Are You Generating Conversational Currency?

by Rick Duvall on 06/25/2009

conversation-currency1In the best-selling book Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About, authors Bertrand Cesvet, Tony Babinski and Eric Alper state that “experiences have residual value — value that extends further than mere memories but instead resides in the realm of identity-shaping and storytelling.. . when an experience is sufficiently powerful or transformative for an individual, they feel compelled to make the experience part of their own life story, and thereby propagate the story of the experience as part of their own (and now more exciting) identity.” This  profound insight combined with an awareness of the degree of connectedness that exists in today’s high-tech world fascinates me. As an embedded journalist seeking to better understand this new connected culture and its implications for us, I’ve been prompted to inhabit a community of curious but industrious pioneers seeking to blaze a trail through this digital frontier –  a community of farmers cultivating fruit from fields of knowledge, of miners prospecting  gold from streams of innovation. The treasure we seek is conversational currency. Thus, Conversational Currency is an interactive community built around investigating, validating and implementing the idea that we can affect the meaning and intensity of word-of-mouth events.

The authors of Conversational Capital have identified 8 specific drivers of this new form of currency: Myths, Icons, Exclusive Product Offerings, Relevant Sensory Oddity, Tribalism, Endorsement and Continuity. The presence of one of more of these engines in a consumption experience makes it more likely to benefit from positive word-of-mouth. Continuity is the most critical. Continuity speaks to the integrity of your message: Between who you say you are, who people think you are and who you are. Continuity is crucial since any inconsistency can breed negative, even nasty, speak. Obviously, this should be avoided.

Social Media Strategist Jay Deragon recently stated that “conversational currency is created by people who share their enthusiasm for a topic, a conversation, with their peers. Because conversations are peer-mediated, they have more authority. However, what conversational currency reveals to us is the value conversations create, value that is reflected by endorsement, or propagation of a conversation by the community of peers.”

This is a vital concept to understand in today’s relationship-driven economy. A conversation converts to currency when people attach meaning to a conversational experience, a shared story. Thus, they are prompted to spread the story as if it were their own. Simple stories about their brand experiences, topical perspectives and innovative ideas become the raw material for minting a new form of exchange: conversational currency.

In this new type of transaction, individuals and brands can provide others with valuable conversational currency by simply telling their story. How? By leveraging the most powerful word-of-mouth marketing resource ever: Social media. Success is realized by using social media to deliver meaningful information, propagating knowledge and prompting innovative ideas and perspectives. As your return, the conversation propagates and, by extension, increases the value of the discussion by drawing attention, causing attraction,  and creating an affinity. This results in an increase in your audience. Your audience then provides additional perspective and insights adding more value to the original conversation. It is this process that creates value and generates an actual exchange: Conversational Currency.

So, whether we realize it or not, our lives are being impacted not just day-by-day but moment-by-moment. Have you joined in the conversation? Are you generating conversational currency?


Taj A. June 26, 2009 at 6:20 pm

A fine yet tragic example of this conversational currency is currently taking place globally due to the death of Michael Jackson. All of the specific drivers have been set into motion and are now in “overdrive,” so to speak. Great post!

Dale Lawrence June 26, 2009 at 2:24 pm

RT @tweetmeme Are You Generating Conversational Currency? via The Relationship Economy……

Mark Harai June 26, 2009 at 8:51 am

“Have you joined in the conversation? Are you generating conversational currency?” – via @jderagon

PostRank - Soc Med June 26, 2009 at 3:53 am

Are You Generating Conversational Currency? #postrank #socialmedia

Debbie June 25, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Conversational Currency – absolutely GREAT phrase. You are brilliant, Mr. Duvall.

Cendee Crawford June 25, 2009 at 6:33 pm

You have successfully captured and formulated what has now taken mainstream ‘social gathering’ by storm and coined a phrase, Conversational Currency. What I have ascertained from joining with outlets such as Facebook, is that others, such as our peers, have a connectedness to one another, more than we realize. A mental picture, a form appears in one’s minds eye as to the character, their personality and the integrity of our ‘audience’. With computers as our tool for communication, it’s predictable, people aren’t. You’ll always have to factor in emotions and I truly miss the sitting with our wise elders on the front porch listening to stories. The expressions, the eye’s, the heart we wear on our sleeves, the love that’s shown in a glare, the tilting on the head with earnest listening…where’s all this in the cutural craze? I’ve spent the last couple of weeks with someone who has been staying in our hotel, the stories, the teary eyed emotions when he was revealing his pain when telling his stories was priceless. Maybe this is just dribble, but I love the human factor.

You are brilliant Rick…you motivate the brain, I’ll motivate the heart! What was it you said to me once, you’ll trip, I’ll catch, lol. Many blessings to you my friend.

Christi June 25, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Thought provoking. The moment by moment aspect is so true & I still find it hard to adapt to this new model of conversation. I’ve been thinking about sitting on the front porch swing with my grandmother, her neighbors surrounding us on the porch & in lawn chairs scattered throughout the yard, sipping iced tea, watching lightning bugs, & enjoying countless hours of conversation. Fast forward nearly 40 years & I am regularly conversing with my 7th grade Biology teacher via Facebook, recommending places to eat or where to stay on vacation. This truly blows my mind at times. Rick, you’ve captured what I was trying to put together in my head about this new mode of conversation, very very well.

Blake Frankovich June 25, 2009 at 11:29 am

The value of Coversational Currency. Great thoughts on “continuity”, word of mouth RT @TrustBranding via @JustTweets

Brian C. Citizen June 25, 2009 at 11:21 am

Daily Deragon Dose: Are You Generating Conversational Currency?

brandi williams, apr June 25, 2009 at 9:23 am

@saoinc @hamiltonanthony ths is a gr8 article & the reason vid & the Internet (FB, twttr) r so impt 2 4wrd mvement

Rob Harvey June 25, 2009 at 9:09 am

Are You Generating Conversational Currency?: Individuals and brands can provide others with valuable conversatio..

prblogs June 25, 2009 at 9:08 am

RelationshipEcon: Are You Generating Conversational Currency?: Individuals and brands can provi..

James June 25, 2009 at 8:59 am

This second article has intrigued me to the point, that I might need to read this book. It does resonate with value for everyday communication, even person to person. There is some great ground work for people skills here as well. This statement “a community of farmers cultivating knowledge and miners digging for gold” certainly brings light to the idea of community both in person to person and the world of social media connection. Man, what a lot of gems to consider.

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