There seems to be growing curiosity around the idea of “Designing the Conversation.”
Here’s our origin story for this concept. Social media has been a superb lubricant for digital conversations, but sometimes it seems more like a barrage of irrelevance versus an authentic conversation. I believe this has to do with too much emphasis on the “broadcast advertising” approach to social media. Some of the old constructs are brought over into this new medium and they serve to corrupt the original intent and greater purpose it can serve.
Design: To prepare the preliminary sketch; to form or conceive in the mind; to assign in thought or intention; purpose.
So, designing the conversation creates a contrast in your mind. Design by definition, slows something down and extends it, making it more valuable over a longer period of time.
Conversation: An interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between people.
Conversation isn’t understood as a visual exercise, and design is misperceived as only visual. But, if you’ve spent enough time in design you know it is not relegated to a visual activity. Visual language can start, contribute and extend a conversation.
By designing a conversation, we are more thoughtful in our orchestration of a conversation. This serves as a contrast with the typical social media tactic of poking someone in the eye with the intention of garnering attention and interest in your brand. This doesn’t mean it can’t be casual vs. formal or playful vs. serious; these are mere representations of tone. The design of the conversation can take as many paths as we can collectively imagine.
The design of a conversation is a deliberate act — mindful and respectful of the audience. Its intention is clear and the outcome should capture engagement, interest and eventually loyalty.
Here are some other related words you know but may have not looked closely at in the recent past:
Discussion: Consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc., especially to explore solutions; informal debate.
Dialogue: An exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, especially a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.
Communication: The imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
From this post forward, we will be observing and deliberating on the discussions a brand has with audiences. We will articulate our findings here, weekly for this blog series.
If you have a designed conversation you’d like to submit for consideration, please comment, send us a link or email the details.