The Conversation Triangle

“Conversation” is a powerful, and commonly used, metaphor for many types of information exchange. It is de rigueur in any description of Social Media. So if conversations are so important, what do we need to know to make them better and more effective?

The Conversation Triangle identifies the three key ingredients of any successful conversation.

These are the three pillars that support conversation.

  • The Social Object
  • The Connection
  • Trust

Without each of these three elements any conversation is going to fail, AND the conversation will only be as effective as the strength of the weakest of the three elements.

Let’s look at each element individually.

The Social Object is the subject of the conversation. It is the thing that makes people want to keep conversing. Hugh MacLeod provides a better description.

The Connection is the mechanism of how people converse; face-to-face, on the phone, email, etc.

Trust determines how much people are willing to share. Without the sharing of information, conversations are short and boring.

So the next time you hear a marketing “guru” talk about creating a conversation with the customer, look for the triangle and see if you can determine the odds of that conversation being successful.


3 Responses

  1. So true. What I see in so many business social media “conversations” is they focus first on the connection, getting all obsessed over whether they should be on Twitter, or Facebook, or whatever the Next Big Thing will be.

    They give some thought to the Social Object, but usually only in terms of what THEY want to talk about. (Which seems more like a one-way dissertation than a two-way conversation…)

    And they hardly ever consider the Trust aspect at all. Especially not that Trust has to go both ways. They want their customers to trust them, but when it’s time for the rubber to hit the road, do they really trust their customers? To the same extent they want their customers to trust them?

  2. Lee:

    Excellent Model for examining the on-line social interaction. Trust is the foundation of a quality relationship whether B2B or B2C.

    The Standard of Trust tribe of businesses and professionals are passionate about implementing open industry standards for the capture and measurement of Relationship Capital (RC). RC is earned when one relationship entity (i.e. product/brand) keeps a commitment to another relationship entity (i.e. consumer). Each commitment or suite of commitments is negotiated between the entities.

    Continued success!

  3. Interesting, I heard that the conversation triangle is about people, context, and content. In this model social object, connection and trust are contexts.

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