Mind The Conversation Gap

    October 26, 2005

Over the past several months I have travelled around the country, meeting with senior marketers at some of the biggest global companies on the planet.

Each time, I prepare some slides and/or talking points that illustrate “The Conversation Gap.” It’s a powerful technique that anyone can apply to demonstrate the blog marketing opportunity.

The concept is simple, yet it makes an important point. I try to show the communication/brand manager their share of the online conversation. I talk about the gap that exists between the number of conversations that are just about their category and the ones that are about their brand AND the category. This illustrates the gap they can narrow by getting more involved in the dialogue by having a blog. Here’s how you can tap into this.

For this exercise, I suggest using IceRocket’s Blog Trend Tool, one of my favorite gadgets. You can also use BlogPulse’s Trend Search tool, but I find IceRocket more effective here. I will use Midas – a company I have never met with – as an example here.

I enter two distinct searches in the conversation tool. One searches for all mentions of the word muffler or mufflers that do not mention the word midas. The boolean search phrase is “muffler OR mufflers -Midas.” The second search is inclusive: “Midas (muffler OR mufflers).” It shows me who is talking about Midas in the context of mufflers.

Picture 1-10

The result is this nice graph (also republished below). This enables me to see that Midas is missing the opportunity to be included in approximately 73 conversations per day (less spam blogs). Note that while this isn’t a perfect qualitative conversation analysis (because of spam blogs), it gives me a good idea of The Conversation Gap they can try to close.

Picture 3-1

Now, let’s take it a step further. Let’s see if Meineke – Midas’ #1 competitor – is doing any better. The answer, as you can see below, is not much…

Picture 4-1

This is when I tell the company I am addressing how they can close the gap with a blog. If there’s time, I also show them blogs that are talking about them. Each of the links underneath the chart generate blog search results for the boolean query as well as the number of sites linking to that particular blog. It gets their attention every time.

Give it a go the next time you need to sell someone – either internally or externally – on the value of blogging. Be sure to also mention that some of the results may be cluttered with spam blogs. However, since spam impacts each query equally, the share of voice should be the same regardless.

Reader Comments

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.