The art (and science) of the conversation with Brooke Sellas

Author Brooke Sellas (she’s still getting used to that descriptor) has been leading and measuring conversations for years. As CEO of B Squared Media, she’s developed a model for metrics that have meaning and help organizations understand what is happening and why. Instead of generic measures linked to ‘engagement’ she reports on a return on conversation that has elasticity to better capture the needs of the particular organization, and those it is conversation with. Her book, Conversations That Connect, maps her creation of the model and how to best use it.

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Find Brooke B. Sellas here:

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The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who thinkfor a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back onsomething you hear in this episode, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The mostinteresting messages will be added to future episodes. Music for The Strategy Inside Everything is by Sawsquarenoise. Host Adam Pierno is an author, speaker and strategyconsultant. Learn more

Transcript here:

A P 0:02
This is The Strategy Inside Everything. I’m Adam Pierno. The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who think for a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back on something you hear in this episode, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most interesting messages will be added to future episodes. And I can’t wait to hear from you. All right, welcome back to another episode of the strategy inside everything. I am looking forward to a great conversation that is foreshadowing for today’s conversation that I’m going to have. I have CEO of B Squared media and the author–you’re getting used to hearing that–Conversations that connect, Brooke Sellas. Brooke, how are you?

Brooke Sellas 0:34
I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me. And no, I’m not I’m still getting used to the author title. But it sounds good. I like it.

A P 0:41
When do you think you’ll get like, what do you think is the hurdle that you’re trying to pass that will help you get used to that?

Brooke Sellas 0:47
I, I really don’t know. It’s just even though we published, you know, back in July, it’s and it’s, you know, many months later, I’m still trying to kind of wrap my head around that I like, did the thing you know, everybody talks about doing the thing, and then I actually did it. So I just I don’t think I’ve like realized it yet.

A P 1:05
Take your victory lap. Man, you got to do it, you got to enjoy the successes. So before we get going and talking about the conversation about conversations, give the listeners a sense of your career path. And you know, how you got to where you are at the head of B squared media?

Brooke Sellas 1:21
Yeah, well, it’s very windy path. But I actually started out in nonprofit. And that’s where I realized I wanted a career in social media, believe it or not, I was down in Texas, working at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as the director of special events. I had like 12 events or so that I was responsible for. And then they came to me and said, you know, we are going to beta test a young professionals Leadership Committee, and we want you to head that up. So I, you know, talked to some other people who were younger than me this time, and just said, what are we going to do to get young people involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation? Because really, nobody knows what it is. And it only affects 33,000 Americans? And how can we make it fun for young people, and the consensus was beer. Food, beer, you know, shopping, but then shopping, you leave some segments out. So we’re pretty much we figured in Texas, especially we were going to hit all targets, right? So we decided to use Facebook to, you know, promote the event recruit for the event. And this was way before Facebook had Facebook pages or advertising, there was only Facebook profiles. But we used our profile, kind of like you would use a page today. And very long story short, ended up recruiting 7500 people to attend this pub crawl with beer that we had, and made $60,000, which most first year events we make 5000. And again, longer story short, our beta test got picked up by 80 chapters across the United States. And, you know, in the meantime, in the back of my head, I was kind of thinking to myself, Wow, this whole thing with Facebook, you know, I know it’s supposed to be like a fun social thing. But there’s a business case there. Zoom immediately saw that potential immediately. Yeah. So after I left, my nonprofit job, it wouldn’t work for a sales and training company in Texas built out social media strategies and revenue streams and programs for this business owner. I kind of wanted to test tests my own, my own my own company on someone else’s dime, which was, you know, very nice. And after a few years with her and seeing that it was wildly successful. I made the leap and founded b squared media 10 years ago, this year in May, we celebrated our 10th birthday. So it was very windy path, but like kind of once I saw that little Facebook thing. I was I was hooked.

A P 4:04
Yeah, you were you were headed in that direction. Once you once you saw the opportunity. It just took a while to get there, right?

Brooke Sellas 4:10
Yeah, yeah. So you know, not a linear path. But I couldn’t I wouldn’t be where I was, without all those things kind of happening the way they did. Now, you wrote a book about conversations.

A P 4:22
And tell me more like what’s the connection between that work and maybe the work you do a B Squared with? Why conversations as the focus of the of the entire book?

Brooke Sellas 4:33
I think, you know, as marketers, we get mired in vanity metrics in broadcasting, right. That’s our job. Like we have these little boxes we have to check or goals we have to meet. And we forget that social media started as a platform for having conversations with like minded peers just like we did for the pub crawl and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. So, you know, as I started to build my own company, I realized that we know from that Facebook and pub crawl event, you know, fast forwarding to to building out our own business, that marketers has kind of left the conversational part of social media marketing behind broadcast.

We’re using it as a billboard.

A P 5:21
Yeah. But that’s that is because the algorithm keeps shaking us off and telling us you have to pay, you know, it’s going to be a broadcast medium, essentially. And then you have to deal with the comments that you get, which are almost always terrible.

Brooke Sellas 5:34
Yes, yes. I’m not saying the conversations are easy. But I mean, if you look at return on conversation as a metric, right, instead of return on investment, look at your return on conversation, you start hitting all of those other metrics that we have to check the box for engagement, shares, comments, likes followers, right. So I think it’s arguable, arguably, the most important metric, and nobody that I know of other than us are kind of really tracking that as a metric.

A P 6:02
So have you have you flush that out as a metric? Or is that something that’s still kind of hypothetical in your mind? Or is that something you report on today?

Brooke Sellas 6:09
It’s something we report on today. And it’s something that we really encourage our clients to get behind, which is, you know, as a part of your content, media mix, making sure that you are both soliciting and eliciting opinions and feelings as the brand to your would be in current clients, right, because a lot of pages on social platforms are made up of not only your current clients as a brand, but potential clients as well. So you know, there’s a lot of good things that come out of conversations, not just meeting some of those metrics we mentioned earlier, but also, you know, voice of customer data, that’s very important to making better marketing decisions.

A P 6:50
Yeah, there’s a lot, there’s definitely a lot to dig into here. So when you talk about return on conversation, is that are you talking about a financial return? Or is it any kind of return? Is it is it return of like new subs, or, you know, some kind of call to action that was responded on? Or any kind of like, or engagement? Or how is it a monetary measure? Or does it vary by client and campaign?

Brooke Sellas 7:13
It varies by client and campaign. But essentially, that base level, which I think really anyone can do is use conversations in your media, mix on social and see what your return is. And I’m not saying it’s easy, but you have to continually try to have that conversation to condition your audience members to respond. And as you respond, and as you know, you’re responding back. And that two way conversation emerges, a lot of really great things happen, including more conversation. So once you kind of have established the conversation with some of our, you know, bigger, more established higher volume brands, we are attributing conversation to acquisition of new customers and retention of current customers.

A P 7:57
Well, that’s really interesting. And so do you. When you talking about voice of customer, is that part of so I know, traditionally, we I’ve done a lot of social listening, in my career. And it was I found it more valuable before the quote unquote, privacy movement, which is really not browser based. But you could get into pretty much every platform, you could see these the all the comments and conversations that use these rich keywords or whoever, whatever you’re using the search. It’s much more limited now. So when you’re talking about voice of customer is part of the work that you do, Kurt, trying to you said elicit those feelings and emotions, is that trying to generate the conversations so that you can get the insights that aren’t really available through regular social listening? Is that what you’re? You’re nodding? So maybe, yes,

Brooke Sellas 8:56
that’s exactly right. So we love social listening, it’s hugely powerful. I don’t understand why every brand isn’t using social listening. But in some instances, it is limited, you know. So, for example, if you have your Facebook site page set to private, and you’re talking about a brand, even if you’re tagging that brand, social listening is not going to pick that up, right, because it’s private. But if you’re on the brand’s Facebook page, asking for opinions and feelings, and Adam comes through and leaves a comment, even if your page is private, I have that information. I can collect that data and take it back to my team for you know, better, more marketing decisions better and more.

A P 9:40
Yeah, at least you could see what people are interested in or what they’re rejecting what they’re pushing back on. Absolutely. at a base level. It seems automatic, but I know what isn’t.

Brooke Sellas 9:50
No, unfortunately. I mean, that’s what I keep saying like people’s like, oh, you make it sound so easy. I’m like, I mean, yes, it’s very easy to you know, um, come up with these, you know, content drivers, but it’s harder to have people engage in that conversation if they’re not already conditioned to do so. And then you have to collect the data. And then you have to do something actionable with the data, right? Because unless we can do something actionable with the data, it’s it’s useless. Really?

A P 10:18
Yeah. It’s simple. But it’s not easy, I guess.

Brooke Sellas 10:21
It’s called I call it doing the deep work, you know, you have to do some pretty deep work to to get results. But I really think that’s where marketing is heading. Yeah. Oh, sure. We’ve got to do the deep work. If you want to continue to thrive and survive in this new marketing era that we that we’re in,

A P 10:38
do you use? If if you’re talking about return on conversation? How do you benchmark that like, What? Is it period over period within the same same client or campaign? Or is it is there other voice of customer benchmarks that you use to compare and contrast

Brooke Sellas 10:56
for the content conversation, it’s month over month, year, over year, you know, quarter over quarter type data that we’re looking at, as we start to see increases in people engaging in those conversations, and we want to add more conversation to the media mix. Because ultimately, what we’re trying to prove out, and we have in a few cases, with those who are willing, is that people respond better to these kinds of human conversations that brands are engaging with online versus like, Hey, here’s a fact about our new upcoming products that you’ve seen 300 times. You know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So and then I think what the voice of customer data, you know, where it’s kind of combining what’s happening organically with some of that proactive listening data and seeing where we can find what I like to call gaps in the path to purchase are potholes on the path to purchase. So a lot of times, we can see, you know, before the full blown crises happen, like, Hey, this is kind of bubbling up in conversation, it’s pretty negative, it has to do with a feature of our product, what can we do to get ahead of this?

A P 12:06
And is that all that can always be a content solution, I deal with this a lot where people are coming and say, we have this huge problem, let’s let’s do a campaign to fix it. And it’s like, I don’t think the campaign is gonna fix it.

Brooke Sellas 12:18
Yeah, you know, a lot of times, it’s the fix, quote, unquote, I’m doing air quotes. I know, I know, the audience can’t see me, but the fix is, you know, related to CX or customer experience. And that’s really hard. Let’s not like, let’s create this thing, and a customer experience is gonna be, you know, but a few times, we have seen where, you know, a new product launched, and people really couldn’t figure out how to work a certain feature of it. So we were like, Hey, how about you put a video of that on your product page? And that will not only quell that negative chatter, but also help you? I mean, what do you do with the first time you have a problem with a feature on a product as you go Google it, and you know, that will help show up in search so that people will stop complaining or stop asking or whatever the solution is, and that worked quite well. But it’s not always that simple, just like you pointed out,

A P 13:10
but that’s people are very pleased when they have the problem, their past, then they Google it, and they find the answer on the website. And it’s like, oh, I should have just look to you right away. Yes, that’s like a very easy solve that actually adds to the brand. Yes, like that positive interaction that you have, you’re like, oh, they already thought of that.

Brooke Sellas 13:29
That’s exactly what happened. You know, they had a lot of negative chatter around this new new product launch. And after we put the video out, within a six month period, the negative chatter went down, I think to like less than 10%, whereas the positive chatter was almost 90%. And what happens when you have a bunch of people online talking about your amazing product, their peers get interested, you go into the awareness phase with your brand for a new group of people, and hopefully are able to convert some of those people that customers?

A P 13:57
Yeah. Do you do any measurement of kind of the effects of ambient chatter? So you mentioned the negative. The negative chatter at that point at one point was higher, and you got it down to 10%? Good job. But like that ambient chatter, sometimes you go as a consumer will go and look for review actively, like I’m at the decision point, and I’m going to look for reviews. And this only has three stars, I’m not buying it, or sometimes during their journey. It’s like in the background processing, maybe in the future, I will need X Y or Z and they just seem negative. A steady stream of like this thing is broken. This thing is broken. I don’t know how to use this thing. Yeah. Oh, I’m ruling out that that instapot I’m not buying it because everyone bitches about it. You’re hitting

Brooke Sellas 14:45
the nail on the head. I wish I could talk to you all the time most of my clients. But yeah, well Twitter actually came out with a study recently that talked about the that consumers are now waiting these brand conversations just as hot As they’re waiting reviews, so not only are they going out and looking at reviews, they’re going to that brand page. And they’re seeing how people are how the brand is responding to people who have questions or complaints. They’re looking and doing, you know, advanced Twitter searches for the product to see what kinds of conversations are happening. So if your brand isn’t engaging in those conversations, conversations, whether they be you know, pre purchase and acquisition or post purchase and retention, you’re going to lose the battle.

A P 15:28
Yeah, it’s kind of like I’ve done this before, where, especially on Twitter, where I will look at their Twitter account to see what it is what it’s like. And then I look and I go, Oh, they’re not replying to anything. And then I go, Well, this is where I do 98% of my communicating. So if they’re not here, then if I need help, they’re not going to help me. I’m done.

Brooke Sellas 15:50
Right? That’s right, it is

A P 15:53
not perfect. And not every company should be on Twitter. But for me, that’s what I use. That’s the That’s my example only is that you want to use as a brand. So how do you when you get into a you get into a client? And they’re not already thinking this way? They’re not already working this way, they’re not already ready to have these conversations, or it’s not as a lot of work. What’s the biggest hurdle usually that they that they throw up? Is it just lack of awareness? Or is it manpower? Or is it you know, what, what’s the biggest hurdle that they face when you’re trying to show them the, the positive effects of this and get them to do it?

Brooke Sellas 16:35
I think for the most part, it’s, you know, the question we get the most often, which I talked about in the book is where do I start? Because they know there’s a problem or they know there’s a there there. But but there’s usually there’s an inherent mismatch between corporate America and social media, right? Corporate America exists Monday through Friday, from nine to five, for the most part, social is 24/7. So I think the biggest fear that a lot of our clients come to us with is we don’t have the bandwidth, or the or the manpower or the skill set, because there’s also a mismatch between a call center, which is a lot of times where they stick social media, Customer Care, and social media, customer care, because a call center typically has the lowest paid lowest skilled workers, and they’re not able to meet social work needs to be met, you know, spelling, grammar, tone, voice, your digital body language, it’s really a special skill set. So there’s a lot of mismatch that’s happening with with corporations and social media. And, you know, I’m obviously a huge advocate for outsourcing not just our company, but really anyone because there is that mismatch there. And I don’t know that it’s gonna get fixed anytime soon.

A P 17:52
Yeah, that’s such an interesting cultural contrast between corporate America, that traditional window, and then the fear of having to commit to that 24/7 Social cycle. However, as you were saying that I was like, Yeah, that’s really logical. But if my neighbor gets the product at Amazon, and it comes at 10pm, and they open it, and they’re excited, and they want to use it for school the next day, and it doesn’t work, they are going on tick tock and making a tick tock, they are going on Facebook and posting about it, like, whether your company is closed at five o’clock or not. Sorry, this Yeah, I mean, do you want to you want to help or not?

Brooke Sellas 18:32
Yeah, it’s unfortunate. It is unfortunate. Listen, nobody wants to be 24/7. You know, I totally get that as a consumer as a human being. But just like you said, consumers use social when it’s convenient for them. And at the time in which it’s convenient for them. And most of the time, because they also work Monday through Friday, nine to five, it’s before hours, after hours, on the weekends on a holiday, you know, all of those really inconvenient times.

A P 19:01
It’s like Thanksgiving, right? When the turkey table, you know, every every Thanksgiving,

Brooke Sellas 19:05
there’s a flare up, I can tell you unequivocally

A P 19:10
you raise another interesting cultural contrast, which is the idea of social media response. And the and the people you know, community managers or people that are handling comments are not always community managers, as kind of new, more modern knowledge workers than call center representatives. And that idea that call centers is something that can be outsourced and it’s out sourced for efficiency. And the metrics that are used to measure call centers are honestly shocking. When you look at this, like Oh, my God, you you were off the phone for 18 minutes yesterday and you’re fired. It’s really scary stuff. A lot of those call mills. But how do you convince a company or what’s the what is the conversation like with accom Could you when you’re trying to explain to them why grammar and that doesn’t mean following up style, but why the grammar of your audience matters. And you know how to how to get the ship, right.

Brooke Sellas 20:16
I think first and foremost, it’s just the simplicity of even if we can’t spell something, but we see someone else misspell it online, there’s always a slew of people running in to talk about the typo, or how to spell or you know, it’s not your whatever. That’s number one, you know, people are just, we’re inherently negative, we like to complain more than we like to give positive glowing reviews. And, you know, that’s unfortunate. But that’s backed by research. This is just how we are as humans. And I think the, you know, the second reason is brand reputation, right? You want to be known as the brand to who at least tries to get it right. Of course, we all make mistakes, and that’s okay. And actually, sometimes it makes us even more human right when we make a mistake. But I also think the digital body language is so important. Having empathy, which is not necessarily something that’s taught in a call center culture is really important is really, truly important on social because you’re not just speaking in that one to one situation. It’s not just broken atom. Everybody’s watching you have an audience, so you really have to get it right and fire on all cylinders.

A P 21:27
Yeah. And that’s, I have never really thought about that. You’re trying to appease that person who’s maybe angry, or build up somebody who’s happy, but you’re trying to do it in a way that gets the crowd. Either you’re trying to like take the steam out of the angry villagers with the pitchforks, or you’re trying to get more people revved up, because look how positively this is going. You know, you have to talk like a, like an FBI negotiator.

Brooke Sellas 21:56
It’s because the negotiation skills so underrated in the social world, right? Yes, I mean, it is true decorum diplomacy, a lot of things that we’re we’re lacking as a as a society, you have to have as a social media, frontline customer care person. And you have to do it in the face of someone who probably isn’t using any sort of decorum or manners or nice words, you know, and because everybody’s watching, and it’s it’s like we were talking about earlier, those brand conversations, how you handle yourself is going to pay in dividends or make you suffer greatly.

A P 22:34
Yeah, I think about as you’re saying that I was thinking about the screenshot of the Delta Airlines person from a couple of weeks ago, where it was like, sir, please come down. And let me work. It’s like 100%, understand where you’re coming from Lady. But you can’t, like Yeah, that’s not the right way to do that. Yeah. But at the same time, I looked at the thread, and I’m like, Oh, my God is every 13 seconds, this guy is asking for an update. Oh, my gosh,

Brooke Sellas 22:58
and but but that is the world that we live in with social media. Now, you know, more and more people are using it as a service channel, whether it be again, those pre purchase, or those those post purchase retention type questions. I only think that’s going to continue to grow. And I don’t know that we’re gonna stop being angry anytime soon, you know, so you, you, you have to walk a very fine line of understanding how to approach those situations, and how to do it in a way that, you know, you almost have to shield your personal self from what the work that you’re doing online, because it’s it’s awful, and people are nasty.

A P 23:38
It’s funny that that screenshot is the screenshot that gets picked up, because the thread is so long and winding and it’s just the company wouldn’t do the opposite, which is here’s a screenshot of this. Really, Dicky?

Brooke Sellas 23:53
I wish they could, in some regards. That opens up Pandora’s Box even further, right. Like, we need to get away from that not run towards it. But yeah, I mean, hopefully, like you’re saying there were some people that had the wherewithal to be like, somebody seems pushed, let me look at

A P 24:11
the person didn’t get punished, because they were not Yeah, it was just an unfortunate response that got picked up. And then next thing, you know, it’s getting blogged about like, come on, right. Are there still blogs, maybe not blog about

Brooke Sellas 24:24
but yeah, well, you bring up a great point because one of the things I always say when it comes to you know, customer care, regardless, but especially through social media, the customer isn’t always right. But you still have to find a way to answer with empathy, right? Meaning it’s not just sympathy. It’s not Oh, Adam, I feel sorry for you. It’s Oh, Adam. I’m sorry that happened to you and I feel responsible for helping you get it fixed. Even though you you brought it on yourself.

A P 24:53
It says in giant letters. Don’t put this metal cup in the microwave.

Brooke Sellas 24:57
Yes. But let me help you you know, you can’t be like, Listen, you dummy didn’t read the instructions too bad. So sad moving on, you know, we wish we could but you can’t you have to be like add. I can’t believe you did that you must have not read the instructions. Let me let me help you moving forward. You know, what if,

A P 25:17
before I even ask this question, what are the like, what industries are you mostly working in? Are they it sounds like there’s a lot of is it like, direct to consumer kind of product sales, physical products, or is it other other industries?

Brooke Sellas 25:31
It’s, it’s both b2b and b2c? Okay. Believe it or not, obviously, the b2b side is a little less high volume than say, like a product company that has a product or products that they’re selling. But we do work in the b2b space as well, because I just think, you know, again, if you look at the research, even b2b buyers are going to social to ask these be service questions whether they be pre purchase or post purchase. And I feel like anytime anyone gets mad about anything we’ve purchased, whether it’s a product or service these days, they run to social to complain. So

A P 26:09
yeah, one way or the other, or they find, you know, we should qualify social, which is I’m thinking of mass market social, but, but tell me about channels that function like social but are not necessarily totally visible. Because I would imagine, like discord plays a role. Or if you have a subreddit for your brand, have you know, any of those kinds of, or even Facebook groups where, yes, fans or users of a product or brand can organize? Are you are you mad at asking the brand to step in and manage those or that’s that’s where the listening is happening.

Brooke Sellas 26:48
We often we do use listening for those platforms, but it depends like what I what I tell people who are coming into the space or maybe you know, somebody is listening to this and going wow, I probably need to like check on this. Go to an audit. Right? Go look at the conversations that are already happening around your brand or on your products or on your stakeholders, first and foremost on the channels that you use. Then take a look at the channels that you don’t and you can maybe see like if you’re getting four channels a month on Facebook, I’m sorry conversations a month on Facebook, and 37 on Tik Tok, and you’re not on Tik Tok. But you’re putting a lot of stock into Facebook, it might need to change, right the the level of conversation that you’re having having again, this is why it’s such an important important metric to think about is indicative of where you should be spending the majority of your time, money and energy.

A P 27:37
Yeah, and not trying to do it in the place that you are comfortable.

Brooke Sellas 27:41
Yes, and stop getting mired with with sight shiny object syndrome. If nobody’s talking about you on tick tock, you don’t need to go build a tick tock channel stop it.

A P 27:52
You start. So if the idea is to drive valuable conversations, not just generating conversations, you’re gonna measure them you’re gonna measure the outcomes. How for for this might be true for b2b, there’s not a lot of conversation happening around your product or brand. Nobody’s talking about it anywhere. In nevermind a, you know, a favorite channel that you wish people were talking about Ron, but how do you guide clients to start those get those conversations started so that they travel without you? So it’s not always you just broadcasting a question?

Brooke Sellas 28:24
Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, the first thing I would say is, because we get this a lot. Well, nobody’s talking about our brands. And I’m like, Well, number one, we have to change that. Right. And number two,

A P 28:36
I guess we’re done. See you guys.

Brooke Sellas 28:37
Okay, bye. See ya. Nevermind hanging up now. But No, but seriously, you got to change that. And we’ll I’ll get to that in the second part of my answer. But but guess who they are probably talking about? They’re talking about your competitors. They’re talking about your industry as a whole. Right? So there’s still ways to use social listening in that regard. And then those types of beings that you see, you know, if there’s a ton of negative chatter, what’s your running shoe brand, and there’s a ton of negative chatter around your competitor shoelaces constantly breaking? Would you not want to start a campaign about how amazing your shoelaces are and try to win some of that, you know, some of that customer base, but also that Share of Voice because then guess what, when you get that share voice, people are talking about your brand. As far as like how to start those conversations in the book, I talk about the social penetration theory, which is also called the onion theory, which talks about how as human beings, we build relationships, and it’s based really on self disclosure, right? If I like you, and we meet each other, I’ll disclose information about myself and we continue to exchange information until we get to the deepest part of getting to know each other trust, loyalty and an actual relationship. That’s when we start to share opinions and feelings, right? So what I say to brands is how can you elicit or solicit It opinions and feelings. You know, it doesn’t have to be risky or hard, it can be as simple as you know, we’re going to go to market with this product, would you like to see it in red or blue? You know, whatever it gets the most feet, we get the most feedback on, that’s what we’ll go to market with, right? You’re soliciting opinions about your products or your services, you’re getting that voice of customer data back, and then you’re doing something about it. You know, if you are a social media brand, you might be able to say something like, how do you feel about the latest Instagram updates? Probably not so great, right? But there’s gonna be a lot of people who want to weigh in, and then you can weigh in is the brand and share your own like, well, we hate it too. Is again, you’re just once you align, when you align your core brand values with the with the values of the people who are going to buy from you over and over again, I’m not talking about a one time purchase somebody who really wants to be with you, essentially, right? become loyal to the brand, you really can’t do that these days, unless you can align on those brand values. And that means using opinions and feelings and content. Yeah,

A P 31:09
yeah, that’s, that’s my sweet spot is understanding the brand value. So how do you if you’re a new brand? How do you figure out what the values are? Because you’re not just creating values that I think the old model was like, we’re gonna just make up these aspirational values. Here we are when you stand for inclusion and prosperity and progress, right? And then your proof points are like, we’ve been using the same technology since 1989. Not progress. So you’re you. You want to build the values on something that is connected to what the customer actually cares about, and why they’re choosing you. And then what you what you’re betting on that more people would choose you on that is true. How does How do you bring a new brand into that fold that maybe hasn’t developed all that work? Because it sounds like you do work with some established brands? But it also sounds like you work on some maturing brands that need guidance there? Yeah. How do you use the social listening to help them, you know, on the path to figuring out how to establish themselves and their voice and their values.

Brooke Sellas 32:21
This is where I don’t understand why more brands aren’t using social listening, because you can really start to identify some of the themes, right aspirations, desires, goals, all of those psychographics that your current customer base and would be customers are talking about. And through those industry, competitor or brand, if people are talking about your brand conversations, you can start to kind of pluck out what those values are that are important to them. And how can you if you already have established values, align those with those that group of people or if you don’t have values established, how can you intertwine some of that into building out those values are creating new values. It’s just mirroring. I mean, it’s psychology, when it comes down to it as human beings we grow up. And we learn through mirroring. And that’s really what brands should be doing with their voice of the customer data, you know, if you call your widget widget A, but you know, all of the conversation that’s happening around widget a and they call it the thingy, then you might want to start calling it the thingy so that you can mirror them and align together versus continuing using your corporate speak because the boss said so

A P 33:30
yeah. Or at least nodding towards that nickname so that they know they’re getting through people. Yeah, thrilled about that. Some of the brands I’ve worked on when you reference they’re in joke. They go nuts. They’re nuts.

Brooke Sellas 33:40
Yeah, yeah. It’s so true. Because again, I mean, at the end of the day, we’re all humans. I mean, yes, I do understand there are very distinct nuances between b2c and b2b. But there’s still a group of b2b buyers who are human on the other end, buying is 95% emotion that doesn’t change from b2c to b2b. So I just think, you know, if we can get more in touch with our emotions, you know, to put it plainly, we would do a lot better with our marketing,

A P 34:10
where do you rank, the kind of, you know, a new, a company that is new to social, or a person that is newly assigned to doing it does not hasn’t been, you know, steeped in social media training, social media listening or social media? Community Management, their first stop is like a Google Calendar, holiday calendar, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, oh, today’s cupcake day and that’s why the blood bank were given out we’re giving you a virtual cupcake like it’s every ridiculous day and that’s their only post with no comments and you look at their brand and you go, Oh, my God, what’s going on? What’s going on?

Brooke Sellas 34:51
I feel like I’m gonna get in trouble for my answer. Because if you look online, that’s like literally like 98% of British

A P 34:57
make it to a crappy holiday. Most of you get through your feed like 13 sites.

Brooke Sellas 35:05
Oh, listen, I get it, right. Because, again, that number one question we’re constantly asked is like, where do I start? And I’m like, not with a content calendar, which, you know, is what most people are gonna be like, what? Ah, but it’s so true. I think, you know, if weird we the goal of most marketers, again, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for all of you listening who are about to get mad at me. But the goal of most marketers is to check that box, we have to put up one post out per day on Facebook, check, we have to put five tweets out today on Twitter check, you know, and so because there’s so much content that has to be created and put out, we latch on to the easy button, right? Instead of thinking like, what is the goal of my content? How can I put out quality content? And yes, that means we’re gonna have to pull back on our on our posts are how can I focus half of my content on having more conversations, knowing that sometimes it’s going to be crickets? And that’s okay, because I’m conditioning people to respond. You know, I think marketers are so scared to get away from the box. And I, you know, unfortunately, that’s what has to change. It’s not about the content calendar, or your or your media mix. You know, I talked about this in the book, too, a year after year, we get more budget for content marketing. And like no budget for social media, customer care, are conversations.

A P 36:32
Yeah. Do you do when you’re creating a scope? Do you try to put more towards customer care and community management than the actual content creation? Or is it 5050? Or? Or? I know, I know, the answer is always It depends. But

Brooke Sellas 36:46
it really does depend. Yeah, if the client wants Customer Care, and sometimes they don’t even know that that’s what they want. They’re like, you know,

A P 36:55
they ever know, any brands that are sophisticated enough to, to? I mean, if they have if they are a brand they know, but if they’re a company, and they’re new to social media, content creation, they don’t know.

Brooke Sellas 37:06
Right? They’re like, we’re getting a lot of comments in our ads. Can you help us with that? And like you mean Customer Care? Through social? Yes,

A P 37:13
we can, like, well, the CEO answers on the weekend, it’s like, yeah, let’s, let’s keep

Brooke Sellas 37:19
him off this. No, but I mean, honestly, it’s just so much education is needed, you know, we have leapt forward with digital transformation, you know, just through the pandemic, because we were kind of all forced to go online. So I think we were already behind on the whole idea of using social as a support channel previous to that. Now, we were all forced to go there. So we’ve sped things up, you know, we Timewarped ahead. And so it just requires a lot of education. I feel like I’m constantly having to educate people about what customer care is, you know, a lot of them call it community management still. And I’m like, Well, really what you’re talking about is customer care, because community management lives pretty much on social, if you’re talking about, you know, solving a problem that needs an escalation internally, like a product return, or somebody coming out and fixing your refrigerator. So service of some type. That’s really not community management. That’s Customer Care.

A P 38:18
Yeah. And you better have a plan for that. Right. That ties to the social channels. Right. Right. Yeah. Have you seen? I think this is my, my probably my last question for you. Have you seen your b squared has been in business about 10 years pandemic is going on into its third year? Have you seen a change in the approach from, you know, your first six or seven years to the last seven years? In the appetite of companies to engage in this work?

Brooke Sellas 38:48
Yes. Do they? Yes. Or, Yes, I think it’s starting with me like those bigger, higher volume, let’s call them enterprise size brands, because they do have so much volume. And so so a lot of that volume, funnily enough, a lot of that volume is even acquisition and one of our clients, you know, she’s a big, you know, direct to consumer tech client just wanted help with the, with the retention portion. So, you know, customer care for customers needing support. What we were able to show them through our work with them is that four of their product lines month over month for the past since like, I think, June or July, so several months now have had 60 to 80% acquisition chatter. That’s money on your organic channels, that through customer care, you can close and turn into customers. So now we’re working with them on a social selling program, where we’re helping close those deals and showing revenue dollars to organic, social and Customer Care. I think as these bigger brands start to get on board and understand the value behind it, not just retaining customers but acquiring new ones, it will trickle down. But we all know that you know, in the marketing world, it happens Slowly unless it’s some sort of like, you know, stupid trend that we’re trying to news Jack

A P 40:06
slowly and then instantly, yes, it’s 18 months of Wait, maybe this will be happening and then overnight it just everybody’s adopting it.

Brooke Sellas 40:14
Right. So we were very early obviously to market we started doing this in 2018 Social media customer care, but that’s so I’m okay with that because Slow and steady wins the race and I’d rather do it right than fast.

A P 40:29
Awesome. So this is your first book, you’re an author. Now I’m just reinforcing that book because you’re still getting used to it. What’s been the biggest kind of surprise of, of here’s a book, I wrote it, it has my name on it.

Brooke Sellas 40:44
Um, gosh, you know, you What surprised me the most. When all of a sudden, people who were my friends and family started to like leave reviews or like me, comments are better than like, wait, wait, wait, wait, I don’t know who you are in the slightest. And you read my book, you bought my book, and then you read it. And now you’re talking about it, like mind blown me was the biggest, because I was like, pretty sure I was gonna sell like 50 copies. And it was gonna be like all friends and family.

A P 41:13
That was your go to market plan was like who? Yeah, no. Yeah. penciled me chip.

Brooke Sellas 41:19
Yep, exactly. So I think we’re almost at like 300 copies sold. We published in July, I read somewhere. I don’t know if this is true or not. That first year business book and a lifetime sells 250 copies. So I feel like I’m doing all right. Great. Yeah. So and we’ve gotten some fabulous reviews. Some people I have no idea. So I’m very excited. I think, you know, if you have the knowledge, you should definitely put it into a book because it’s, it’s worth it.

A P 41:50
The work is worth it. The work is

Brooke Sellas 41:53
worth it. I mean, year of like really crying and pulling my hair out. I mean, actual tears. But then at the end, it’s definitely worth it.

A P 42:02
How much of it though is it is a lot of work. I’m not definitely not diminishing that. How much of it though, is I know this? You know, I’m an expert in this. Every word in here is words I’ve said or already thought. But it’s the organization it’s the actually type moving your fingers on the keyboards in that sequence, the editing process, which is terrible. Yeah. The actual the first draft, was that hard for you? Or was it more?

Brooke Sellas 42:33
Oh my gosh, yeah. The what you’re saying is actually the hardest part is you have to part with things that you’re like, No, I really needed that in there. But it doesn’t match with flow flow. I had no idea I was going to spend as much time as I spent on just making sure that it flowed well. And, you know, some of the feedback that I’ve gotten is that, you know, oh, you could have switched this with this and it would have flowed better. And I’m like, oh, because you know, I spent so much time on flow. But you It’s surprising how much work goes into putting out a good book. And it was important to me to make sure that it was high high quality otherwise I wouldn’t have gone through the fear of crying that I did to get into

A P 43:16
I’m sorry to hear that you were so sad. You’re happy now. Happy now

Brooke Sellas 43:20
very happy I did it. It was just hard. It’s a It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I loved the challenge so much so that I’m already thinking about book number two, you know, based on some of this social selling stuff that we’re working on so I mean, I would just say like go and do it. But make sure you have the right people behind you a good content editor a good a good line editor, you know, a sensitivity reader all those things like it really took it was way more than just me it was like a team of five of us who got it done.

A P 43:51
Very good. Well books tell us the book is called conversations that connect how to connect converse and convert through social media listening and social lead Customer Care. I gave you that the full title there, bro. Congrats on your book. Where can people find the book? Where can people find you online?

Brooke Sellas 44:08
You can find me at B squared dot media. That’s B as in Brooke and then squared dot media. And the book is on there as well. I’ve got chapter one for free if you’re a try it before you buy it type of person. And the book itself is on Amazon. So you can just go to Amazon search for conversations that connect or Bruxelles and it’s there in Kindle and in print.

A P 44:30
I will link to all that stuff. So it’ll be in the show notes. Brooke, thank you so much for making time for me. I enjoyed this conversation.

Brooke Sellas 44:37
Thank you for having me back to keep making conversation out of that’s all I need you to do and everybody listening.

A P 44:47
You got it. Thanks. The Strategy Inside Everything is produced by me, Adam Pierno If you like what you’ve heard, leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Actually, I have no idea if that helps, or if it’s ever done anybody any good. If you really want to help the show, and you liked what you heard, share it with someone else who you think will dig it. That’s the best way to help the show and keep the conversation growing. New Music for the strategy inside everything is by Sawsquarenoise. If you have an idea, a question or want to push back on something you hear here, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. If you want more information on your host Adam Pierno you can find it on and learn about my books, speaking and consulting practice. Thanks so much for listening.

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