Bryan Kramer is a social business strategist and the CEO of Silicon Valley marketing agency PureMatter. Bryan wrote the bestselling book Human to Human: H2H. He has extensive experience in brand marketing, with a focus on integrated communications and strategic business planning.

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I invited Bryan to Marketing Smarts to discuss his latest book, Shareology: How Sharing Is Powering the Human Economy.

Here are some highlights from my conversation with Bryan:

Tap into the value of social media through active listening (11:26): "First of all, you have to start out with the right questions—what you want to listen to—because there's so much out there. It also makes a difference if you have the right person in place. While you do need a team, you need [one person] who's connected to both engagement and listening, because it's the people on the front line that really get what it is people are saying. They're treating it as the biggest online focus group on earth, which is social media. Having them connected is the most important thing.

"I think a lot of people try to listen without actually looking into the engagement or connecting the two teams together (depending on how large the organization is)—but listening is one thing, active listening is another. That takes the right characteristics of the right people. Having somebody really dive into not just the ego metrics of what people are sharing, the high-level stuff (the impressions and the Likes and things like that), but actually diving into a little bit more about who they are and the demographics and psychographics of where they're coming from, maybe where they live, and what drove them to share.

"And part of that is connecting [sharing] to every area of your company. Sharing connects to your HR or your staffing area, your engineering and product development—it's just about everything. I see a lot of people listening to just Marketing, and they're not taking advantage of it. Part of that is assembling a team that really dives into a different person from each walk of life in the company, and making sure that everything is being listened to and addressed, using active listening, not just listening. Listening is just a 'hey, what is everyone saying?' Active listening is, as Ted Rubin says, 'looking people in the eye digitally' and really looking past just their followers and saying 'who are you?' Do they like to surf? Ski? Do they have kids? You can start to find out who your audience is."

Sharing isn't just about being nice: sharing (done right) helps drive your business (15:15): "For me [the most important metric is] conversion. When you get somebody to sign up for email. Even conversion in engagement. Not just one engagement, but they're constantly engaged with you, they appear on every tweet chat that you have, and they start to convert into a fan. Conversion on some level is where...I'm focused—where sharing starts to break down into something that's important. But it doesn't have to be conversion into money, although that's the best kind... Eventually, that's the goal."

B2B social media success is all about building community (23:40): "it definitely is a little bit more complicated [for B2B] because you're trusting the human chain of people.... I think the best way to do it is through community.... I have a case study in [Shareology] about Cisco and how they build community.... I interviewed Mark Yolton, he's the VP of digital media globally for Cisco.... He approaches everything as a relationship built through community. So he...built communities on different topics.

"They're dealing with different tools and hardware and software and things like that, so he built different communities for each of those things that allowed him and his team to have one-to-one discussions about those. They invested a lot of time and money where it wasn't necessarily a product sale. It was literally just for community and support and being helpful.

"They were able to see an uplift of things like customers longevity with the company, and staying with them and re-buying their products, coming back again and being influencers for the company.... And also the channel managers, the ones in the middle who were trying to educate their customer were finding the company behind them to be more supportive through community development with answers directly from the company so they didn't have to wait for those answers to transfer down. I think community development in a B2B situation where social media's concerned and how you share and how you build that through whatever platform yo pick, that's probably one of the most challenging and easier ways at the same time to build a direct relationship."

To learn more, get your copy of Shareology, visit, or follow Bryan on Twitter: @BryanKramer.

Bryan and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Special thanks to production company Candidio, an efficient, affordable video production platform allowing marketers and communicators to collaborate and curate video content, with help from a team of professional, on-demand video editors for the finishing touches. Check them out!

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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