Brian Oberkirch is one of only a few people in this world who’s every word I hang on. Brian is a thought leader, in it’s truest form. I’m proud that Brian even knows my name. Enough fanboycrap. On to the thoughts that Brian stirred up for me.

Brian just wrote a post taking a jab at conversational marketing, clearly pointing his pointer finger at the “Misbegotten & generally borked offspring of Cluetrain“. His point is something that drove me to create a Flickr group over 6 months ago, tounge in cheek renouncing the phrase “Join the Conversation”. I ended up not following through with the Flickr group because all that happened every time I looked at it, I got angry.

I hate the phrase “join the conversation” because it encourages the worst thing that conversational marketing could have: dilution of valuable, community contributed information.

“Join the conversation” encourages a poor signal to noise ratio.

“Join the conversation” has bred an entire movement that’s forgotten what the social in social media means.

“Join the conversation” doesn’t mean “listen to me, me-me-me-me-me”.

Conversational marketing doesn’t mean “talk about it until they can’t help but listen”.

Conversational marketing DOES mean that your pitches don’t sound like pitches. Conversational marketing means STOP PITCHING.

Guess what. If you are still trying so hard to be conversational, odds are, it’s coming across as far less genuine than if you aren’t trying at all.

Stop, collaborate and listen (yeah, i went there)

How about listening for a change? Rather than spending all of your time talking about what your customers/partners/vendors/markets/employees/members, whatever might want; ASK THEM.

So what does this boil down to?

I think that you should take a good hard look at your “conversational marketing” techniques and exercise the side of the conversation that most people aren’t terribly good at:

listening.