Minter Dialogue with Brooke Sellas

Brooke Sellas is a digital customer experience consultant, social media customer service management and social media listening expert. She’s founder and CEO of B Squared Media, is host of The Marketing Agency Show and is also author of Conversations that Connect, How to Connect, Converse, and Convert Through Social Media Listening and Social-Led Customer Care.” In this conversation, we discuss the different types of conversations one can have as a brand with customers, the role of emotional disclosures, the relationship between empathy and trust, the Social Penetration Theory and the place of imperfection.

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS: brand, question, feelings, people, social, social media, conversations, customer, faq, clients, personal, minter, brooke, love, patagonia, talking, convinced, opinions, employees, information

SPEAKERS: Brooke Sellas, Minter Dial

Minter Dial  00:05

Hello and welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 531. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information to check out other shows on this network, please go and visit evergreen So, this week’s interview is with Brooke Sellas. Brooke is a digital customer experience consultant, social media customer service management, and social media listening expert. She is founder and CEO of B Squared Media. She’s the host of The Marketing Agency show and is also the author of “Conversations that connect, how to connect converse and convert through social media listening and social-led customer care.” In this conversation with Brooke, we discuss the different types of conversations one can have as a brand with customers, the role of emotional disclosures, the relationship between empathy and trust, the social penetration theory and the place of imperfection. You’ll find all the shownotes on And if you have a wee moment, please go and drop in your rating and review because you know, that’s how these podcasts work. And don’t forget, subscribe to catch all the future episodes. Now for the show.

Brooke Sellas, a middle-named person like me. Great to have you on my show. In your own words, Brooke, how would you like to describe yourself?

Brooke Sellas  01:34

Oh my gosh, from a personal standpoint, or a professional standpoint?

Minter Dial  01:38

Well, you tell me!

Brooke Sellas  01:40

Professionally, I am an overachiever. Personally, I don’t want to do anything. My perfect day personally is a rainy day, laying on the couch binging something on Netflix. But that’s not me professionally, am very different.

Minter Dial  01:57

And how do you reconcile those two?

Brooke Sellas  02:00

I tell myself that because I work so hard and my professional life that I probably should really enjoy in my personal life, you know, but I guess I also ride horses on my personal life. So, you could say I’ve had a little bit of craziness in me. And that ties into the professional side because I’m an entrepreneur, right? So there has to be like a little streak of wildness in there somewhere.

Minter Dial  02:22

I’m about to do an interview of my old roommate from University, who wrote a book called winning with horses. Oh, and so lots of horses will be in the in the future. So, your book conversations that connect how to connect converse and convert through social media listening and social led Customer Care. Tell us why you decided you want to write this book?

Brooke Sellas  02:46

That’s a great question. I’ve owned my business for a little over 11 years now. And when I first started out, I thought it was going to be building social media strategies and delivering those to the client and walking away, right kind of like a consultant. And with my very first client, I delivered the strategy. And about two weeks later, they called me up and they were like, Brooke, we can’t implement this. We just don’t have the time. We don’t have the resources. We’re scared. We don’t know what to post. And I realized very quickly that it wasn’t that my customers needed a strategy, because they knew maybe they need some help maybe with a strategy, but they really knew what they ultimately wanted and what they wanted to do and how they wanted to tie it to goals. What they didn’t know how to do or didn’t want to do was execute. And so, I quickly pivoted to executing. And in that journey of executing social media management for people, they would start the clients would start to come to me and say, you know, we love the content, we put you’re putting out we love all you know, all the stats and the engagement and the followers. Is there any way you could cover us more time and respond quickly or to some of these requests that we get, like support, basically social media support? And I said, Well, yeah, because we’re already, you know, we already do basic management, which is where we respond within the same day. So, very quickly, I started to have clients ask about this thing that I didn’t know what to call it, but ultimately, it’s social media customer service. And so, we ended up rolling it out about six years ago, after we beta tested it for a year with one of our clients. And lo and behold, it became our biggest revenue stream and the thing we’re most known for.

Minter Dial  04:30

Well, congratulations, I have a couple of thoughts that ruminate my head as I listen to you. The first is a story about a chap running an enormous grocery store that’s based out of France called Carrefour and he had an Instagram account that he chose to sort of hide his identity behind, because he didn’t want to be known for this within the company. And his passion was for black and white photography with his Nikon camera and the funny thing is he ended up with more likes, more followers of that personal account with the black and white photos that he was taking, than the entire company Instagram account. Which leads me to the observation I have with my daughter, where I have, like my daughter, about the same number of followers. But anytime she posts something, she gets hundreds, if not 1000s of likes, and I sputter to get 20, 30, 40, 50. And in my observation, so the first one is about the personal element of it, as opposed to the corporate side of things. And the second one is the, and I’m going to say younger, but also female side of it, versus the masculine side of it. How do you riff on that?

Brooke Sellas  05:43

I mean, I talk about this a lot in the book, but I think it’s that we are, we’re emotional beings, right? Literally, we are built on our emotions and our feelings. We’re thinking beings, separately from that, right, I would say that’s a secondary and probably even way further down the listing that we are because some of us don’t think at all. But knowing that we base 95% of our decisions on emotion, and only 5% on logic and thinking, it’s still appalling to me that brands, corporations typically are posting content that is devoid of any emotion or feelings. And people, obviously, are posting personal things, even with black and white photography, I’m sure there was a story that was being told it invokes some kind of feeling or emotion. And that inherently is what I want companies and corporations to realize, and change with their social media marketing, if you want, you know, the old adage of like, know, and trust, you can’t get to know and you certainly can’t get to trust without being vulnerable. I mean, those are the basic tenets of any relationship, including a brand to a customer.

Minter Dial  06:56

It was actually might your dislike, know and trust that you just said, A is my almost smirk at how people operate on LinkedIn. I don’t know them, therefore, I can’t possibly trust them. And why would I like them? And why would they connect if you don’t know like, or trust them?

Brooke Sellas  07:19

Well, because they’re trying to sell you something. And this goes back to that branded content. It’s steeped in, you know, from the book, what we call clichés and facts, not in opinions and feelings. And you cannot get, you know, I think the other the other one, I guess I should probably point out is brands view connection as a subscriber, or a sign up or a download or a customer who’s going to come in and buy something. But that’s not connection. Connection, by definition is two way, right? It can’t be one way. So, I think that’s brands are getting that very first step of connection wrong. So, how could they get beyond connection to knowing which is, you know, some of the conversations that you would have back and forth to understand your customer better to conversion, you can’t really get to conversion without connection and conversation. So, you might have like, but you’re not going to get to know and trust it

Minter Dial  08:11

So, I ran a large brand, called Redken, when I was working at L’Oréal. And the idea that people want to connect with a brand is a struggle for me, because I think people want to connect with people. Yes, and the challenge with that in a corporation, where you work for a brand for a while and then move on means that in the end of the day, you are connected with the person who worked in your brand, but then he moved on. So, you’re left sort of strung out with the brand, not the person. And it becomes difficult to craft personal messages when the people who are typing, the messages are rotating. And it feels like ultimately, it’s a strongest need to have if that’s your situation, an agency to deal with your communication as a brand. If you don’t know how to create that sort of more personal, intimate touch and feeling as a brand through the people you are employing.

Brooke Sellas  09:20

Yeah, I think you’re hitting on a great point there. I mean, there’s a couple of real mismatches between social care and the way corporations operate. There’s high turnover, especially at a lot of these like larger brands who do have the high volume of these conversations that would happen through social you know, they don’t have the know how they don’t have the skill set. They don’t have the digital body language that’s required a lot of times to handle things and they work typically work Monday through Friday nine to five when social lives 24/7 Right. So, that’s a big mismatch. But I do think that’s one of the things that our customers say they love about working with an agency ever since we brought up this program by the way. But we haven’t had one customer care client churn like that, how valuable the services and I think to your point, part of that reason is because they have a pod of people who are dedicated to their brand who intimately know the brand’s tone, voice, all of those things, and know how to take the brand’s values tone of voice and turn that into personal connection, conversation type content. And they get a direct line to me. So, I think, I think they really appreciate that well, but that’s why we want to stay boutique, and we don’t want to become a 1000-person agency, because if we did, we would also have that high turnover. So, we’re very selective about who we work with. And we’re very selective about the team members that work with us. So, I think that’s a big reason as to why it does work for some of these, you know, larger brands.

Minter Dial  10:50

And yet the issue remains Brooke, of the solid understanding of that tone, sense of humor, borders or frontiers that shouldn’t be crossed. Yes. Because, I mean, as soon as we’re personal, you can go your giggle? And is that whatever or blurt something out, because you’re being spontaneous. And, and yet, you know, if you’re a pharmaceutical company, that you’re laughing at my illness, or whatever the speed with which things can be taken poorly, means that you write too many protocols to fit into, well, how do you sneak my personality into it?

Brooke Sellas  11:38

Yeah, that is, that is probably the number one challenge. And I think we work with, you know, some pharma brands, and some finance brands, you know, where there’s a ton of red tape. And what I love about these brands, in particular, especially our clients who we work with, they are so innovative in how they think about these things, they understand that they need to talk about their mission and their values as a brand, so that they can attract customers who have similar values. The example I gave in the book was Nike, you know, everybody thought they made a huge mistake with the Colin Kaepernick campaign, everybody was saying, oh, you know, there are people who are burning their Nikes right on in videos and saying they would never buy from Nike, again, this that me other, but Nike knew their audience, right. And what ended up happening is their stock price actually went up. And they actually made more money. And I think that’s one of the clues as to what you need to do if you want to get vulnerable. And you want to try to go into this space with a personality as a brand, if you have to intimately understand who your audience is. Because to the outside person, that seems risky. But to Nike, they knew who their buyer was, and people who loved them, loved them even more for that and bought more shoes, they made more money and their stock price went up.

Minter Dial  12:58

What’s interesting about your commentary about Nike is we’re not talking about employee satisfaction. Because ultimately, for me, this is about congruency within your culture. And in great to have share price go up sales to go up customer clients who are buying the shoes happy. But in the end of the day, the individuals who are typing on the keyboard who need to look in their selves in the mirror, that measurement of employee engagement is I often feel totally missing in the in the way people evaluate social media.

Brooke Sellas  13:35

Yes, that is a huge piece of the social care pie is effects or employee experience, because you can’t be that kind of brand. Online, right? Where again, it’s like digital body language, if you don’t have the buy in of your frontline workers and your employees who are the ones who are out there, really representing the brands, you know, the brand people aren’t even the ones who are on the frontline. So, I think you know, part of the pie is yes, employee experience and making sure that you have the right people in the right roles. And also knowing your audience intimately. So, you can create that kind of content. And then I think a third one, which is another hard one for companies to do is treat social media like a playground, that is your sandbox to test ideas and test concepts and ask questions that bring that voice of customer data back to the people who aren’t on the front line and branding and helps you make better you know, customer focus decisions based on the information that you’re grabbing from, you know, basically the world’s largest focus group that’s free, which is social media.

Minter Dial  14:46

I love it. I always liked to cite former CEO, called Ronan Dunne, who’s an Irishman and he was CEO of a very large telephone company in the United Kingdom and then in the United States, Verizon. And, he used to, even though busy big job, spend a half an hour a day he said every morning listening to social media because that got him in touch got through the chain of communications directly raw into the customer. And I think a lot of CEOs, a lot of C suite anyway are missing that.

Brooke Sellas  15:25

I love the word raw by the way, that’s like the perfect way to describe the data that we get from social and I mean, it is raw, it’s not pretty. But it can provide so much information. Anyhow, go ahead.

Minter Dial  15:35

Yeah. So, then how do you deal with bad social media or aggressive troll? Because there’s a lot of that. And, and, you know, you see an individual with two followers and just cast that aside. They have 2 million followers, even though they’re using expletives and unforgivable language, do you have to deal with it? How do you how do you evaluate those types of nasty, bad news type of social media?

Brooke Sellas  16:09

Isn’t, believe it or not, this is my favorite type of social media, because I think understanding negative sentiment as a brand, is a superpower, right? Because every negative event is an opportunity to turn that customer or that person into a stark raving, loyal fan, if you handle it correctly. Now, when we’re talking about trolls, there are people who come to social media literally just to troll, right? They’re not a customer, they’re never going to buy from you. They have two followers or 2000 followers, whatever it is, but you can, you can kind of tell that you’re a they’re a troll. And a lot of social media experts will tell you block them, banned them, hide them, delete them. But what I would say from experiences is that we’ve had some of our brands have customers who became trolls, I’m talking about posting every day nasty stuff, you know, day after day after day, after day after day, you can block ban high delete a paying customer, especially for this luxury brand. So, I think it’s more about creating a troll policy, and understanding what to say how to say it, and then understanding when to disengage. So, it’s not necessarily you know, blocking someone or banning them or deleting those comments, because, by the way, like 86% of consumers, especially the younger groups, look at Brands conversation, and wait it higher or equal to online reviews. So, this is why it’s so important to respond as the brand even if it’s negative. But back to the troll situation, you have to know when to disengage. And that should be part of your troll policy. At what point if you’re asking this person, “hey, I’m so sorry, you’re having this experience, let’s go to DM I’ll get your phone number or whatever it is, and we’ll get this worked out.” And they won’t go there. And they’re still posting nasty grams, you know, every day, then at some point, you do need to disengage. But every brand has a different policy on how and when that happens, or at least the brands we work with.

Minter Dial  18:10

They ought to have those plans! You mentioned the at the top this notion of speed with which you respond. And for having worked in a large organization. I was seeing how back longtime because it’s now been 14 years since I left. But back in those days, we could see that there was more and more impatience and need to respond quickly. So, we’re talking about the early part of the century. And yet, you need to have a more congruent system of communication within your organization in order to be able to feed that the example I used to give all the time would be someone complains or says something in the shampoo, it had this ingredient. I’m allergic to it, can you confirm it exists? Something so you receive that the social care or social media or whoever it is, is receiving it? Or you’re like, Well, I don’t know, I’m just a marketing dude. I send that message to the labs. So, someone who’s taking care of shampoos, I finally find that person. And that person says, Sorry, who are you? I’m a marketing intern. I’m working for the summer. And I’ve got this message. Well, I say who are you? They don’t even ask if they look at it, they raise the eyebrows and say, I’ve got a bad thing to do. Right? So your desire to get back to this client within four hours is ruptured because there isn’t any sensitivity within the organization to what you are facing on the frontline. And at times that might mean mobilizing a whole set of people that aren’t necessarily correlated or reporting into you. So, how do you face that or what advice do you have when you are talking with a customer about this idea of right Good response.

Brooke Sellas  20:01

Yeah, so I have so many thoughts here, because rapid response, unfortunately, customers are getting more and more impatient about response time, especially on digital channels. So, on social media, the gold standard is with, you know, under an hour response time, but really a lot of reports show they want to in less than 30 minutes, which is bananas. So, the first thing I would say, and this is one of the things we do with every single one of our customer care clients is we create FAQ documentation, and we triage conversations as they come in. So, that first time somebody asks about an ingredient, we don’t, we don’t know, right, that will be labeled as a red, we couldn’t solve it ourselves on the front line. And we would go through the proper channels to get that question answered. Once it’s answered, we add that to the FAQ documentation, and the next time somebody asks about ingredients, we have an answer. So, that’s a green conversation, and allows us to solve that problem right there on the front line at the first touch. So, that’s first contact resolution, which is a huge metric for us to measure because what we find oftentimes is that we are able to resolve with the help of internal forces, these questions right off the bat, right on social which, you know, decreases re escalations, meaning people who come back and complain again, because they haven’t heard something. And re escalations, by the way, cost your business tremendously. This is where a lot of a lot of customers will turn away from a brand if they have to re escalate a problem or a complaint. And part of, you know, having that FAQ document and providing that information and constantly updating it involves buy in from the top, you know, so we have usually someone sitting in a very top spot, whether it’s the C-suite, or maybe a VP of Comms or HR, whatever it may be marketing, and that person has aligned to the top top. So, we can pretty much go to almost the top with this, you know, read situation, this ingredient question, and they can make sure that we get an answer as quickly as possible. And then once we have that answer, like I said, it goes into the documentation, which the team has access to. And we just get faster and faster with being able to solve problems directly on social very quickly.

Minter Dial  22:15

So say you talk about almost like the red hot red telephone red hotline allows. But I do think that this is typical of the type of problems that you might have on the frontline, you want to have with intent, you know, you’re intentional, you are authentic, genuinely wanting to get back to them quickly. And if you write a message like Well, hey, listen within 30 seconds, 30 minutes. Hey, listen, I saw your message about this ingredient. Well, we’ll get back to you. And then you have to make a commitment. We’ll get back to you within Yes. But it’s not within your power to dictate that, especially if you’re an agency. So, I see that as a troublesome irksome area that requires maybe this red hotline, but also a strong integration within the organization so that people aren’t saying, Who’s this broke person?

Brooke Sellas  23:04

Oh, yeah, no, I’m with you. I know, the financial client that I talked about. Again, they’re so innovative, I love using me as an example. Because the negative sentiment around financial brands on social is pretty, pretty ugly, right? They don’t usually fare very well, um, but they have us plugged in to their VP of comms their VP of HR, we talk to everybody on their social what it’s called nimble member social care for them because they have members. And everybody on their marketing team, everybody on their paid media team, we have our hands and so many different departments within the business to try to help be the middle, like, like a spoken, spoken, we’ll kind of model so that they’re not operating in silos, we help them become you know, that middle of the wheel so that we can all move forward together. And that’s the ideal setup and situation. Not that everybody sees it that way or does it that way. But honestly, those are the brands that we see making win after win after win-win. They don’t, you know, operate in silos.

Minter Dial  24:07

Look, I wanted to circle back on something you said earlier about the nasty people and your favorite thing. I wanted to do a little hat tip to my friend Jay Baer and his book “Hug Your Haters.” Yes, something that Jay would subscribe to.

Brooke Sellas  24:22

Yeah, he actually has the Time to Win report that came out recently. And now he’s actually going to release a short book, he says is amazing. If you’re not sure how you’re doing on timing, as far as and this is, he goes beyond social right? Our focus is so social, but he talks about email, in person, all these different things. And he also hits heavily on re-escalations and how much they cost business and looking at all of those areas and kind of give some tips for becoming faster, not just on social, but email, in person, all of those things. So, yeah, I love him. He always has amazing content, and it’s such a fabulous researcher.

Minter Dial  25:04

So, I’ll be sure to put that in the show notes. So, you this book is entitled, The conversations that connect and conversations is a topic near and dear to my heart. It’s the subject of my next book. And I yay, so I have written 350,000 words, but I hope the book will be a little shorter. It’s an encyclopedia, almost. But conversations, obviously, there are many different types of conversations. What type of conversation do you subscribe to that makes these emotional connections and builds community? What? What how do you define? Is it topic? Intensity? Vulnerability? What is it that makes for conversations that connect?

Brooke Sellas  25:50

Yeah, so I’m going to get nerdy here just for a second. But I have to give you the backstory to answer your question. But essentially, I did my undergraduate thesis on the social penetration theory, horrible name, brilliant concept. But essentially, back in the 1970s, there were these two social psychologists and they came up with the way humans connect with one another, how do we build relationships, and what they said was, it was basically based on the level of disclosures we give to one another. And those four levels of disclosures are clichés, does nothing to move the relationship forward. Facts, you know, fine, but really isn’t again, moving the relationship forward. And then opinions and feelings are the two final and deepest layer of how we build trust and build relationships with people. And so, my thesis looked at social media and said, Hey, can does this apply to social media and to brands and people? And what I found was yes, as long as brands were using opinion, and feeling content, which as you know, most brands are not most branded content, you can run out to social media right now and see exactly what I’m talking about is cliché, in fact, but the brands who share opinions and ask for opinions, who share feelings, or values, and ask for those feelings and values back, have the biggest audiences have the most brand conversations happening on social and I can’t speak for every brand and only my clients, but have a lot more conversions that actually come from organic social media.

Minter Dial  27:24

So I’ve written about machines having feelings. That’s doesn’t seem to be an acceptable thought yet. And of course, I would concur. Brands to brands have feelings.

Brooke Sellas  27:40

I think they do well, good brands do. I think brands who get it, and who understand that whole fact that we’re emotional beings, and that 95% of our decision making is based on emotions, no, and start with, Hey, this is our brand. And these are our core values. Patagonia is a great example. Right? They are an outdoor apparel brand. They care about the planet. And a lot of their content talks about their feelings and their opinions on climate change. And this aligns so well with the Patagonia customer, because the Patagonia customer is an outdoorsy person, they love being in nature, because they love being in nature, they probably respect nature and really care about the planet. So, Patagonia is constantly aligning those feelings that they have as a brand about the planet with their consumers. And they meet in the middle, you know, through purchase, but it’s more than a purchase. I mean, if you go look at some of the customer stories for Patagonia, it’s they align with that brand on a bigger way than just a purchase, you know, they’re not going there because of the price or because of the materials. It’s because of the brand devalues.

Minter Dial  28:56

So I’ve had the chance to speak to some folks there and a bit under some competitors. And my sentiment is that I don’t know if that’s an appealing an opinion or a feeling opinion. Well, it could be both well see, my sentiment is that the in the evil Sheena, who was the founder of Patagonia is the reason why that’s credible. There’s a personalized or a personality. That is a person that speaks as a public figure, and re-presents those feelings. The vast majority of corporations hide behind subterfuge of the CEO I have more to I don’t have time to do this. I have to talk to my shareholders. I’m doing other things strategically. And the idea of expressing feelings and opinions. Well if you’re not the founder, how do you know that these are the right feelings that you want to do? In other words, you start Having filters that suggest the feelings you need to have, as opposed to having the feelings that you should have?

Brooke Sellas  30:06

It’s funny that you asked this question because this is an ongoing conversation with many of our clients. And I’ll give you a couple of examples. You know, when we, you know, a few years ago, we’re going through all of the protests and Black Lives Matter. Several of our brands said they wanted to post in support of Black Lives Matter. And obviously, we wanted to support them in whatever their mission or value was. But for some of the brands, we knew that it was more of a gesture than an action. And we discourage them from making those posts unless they could tie it to an action as the brand, right? We support black lives matter. And we’re doing this thing or giving this donation or whatever it was, whatever that piece of action was, along with that support of Black Lives Matter. The ones who had action tied to their messaging, did great. The ones who went against our advice and posted without action, got a lot of backlash. So, I think you have to understand as your brand, whether it’s the CEO, or the C suite, or whomever it is, you have to understand and know what your company values are. Is it you know, pride? Is it black lives matter? Is it what is it that you stand behind? Is it saving the planet is it you know, providing clean water? Whatever those core values are, it has to come from the top, you have to be steadfast and what it is, and then it needs to trickle down within the organization, which is hard. I know that’s not easy, but I think we’re going to see, especially as the younger groups come into more buying power, that the brands who don’t adopt this kind of mentality of their brand, having values and opinions and tying those values and opinions to their customers will have a very hard time

Minter Dial  32:00

and attained them to the behaviors the actions as well. Yes. The challenge in these types of see I’m only give you an example of I remember reading in a book about how there was a big corporation that was doing very sort of so in social media, and then one day they hired an intern, and she was particularly funny and snarky. And got lots and lots of likes and retweets and everyone said, Oh my gosh, your social media is great. Look at that, actually, it’s bringing in new, new customers everything. Then the social media intern left. And that kind of a personality can’t make up. Yeah, no snarky or sense of humor, this defined sense of humor, what do we mean by that? And how are we going to replace that? Yeah. And so, they got confused, in terms of the metrics. And when it comes to leading that voice, I have the same kind of quibble around agencies doing social media posts for on behalf of a personality, which ultimately means it’s kind of removed from the person. Yeah, in that case, and so how does that become credible? How does that become? How is that an authentic way to render personal and engaging, connecting for brands?

Brooke Sellas  33:29

It’s such an insightful question, because I think and not to knock any agency or person who’s in social, but I think that’s what happens a lot of time, right? The brand’s like, we don’t know what we’re doing. We know we have to have a president just go out there and make it happen, right? And unfortunately, just like your example, what happens is that person doesn’t know the tone and the voice of the brands, they’re becoming the tone and tone in the voice of the brand. And the brand is going to then what adopt this person’s tone of voice? No. So, for us, it’s really about understanding and going through, we go through a lot of exercises with the brands on what their tone of voice is, and how to convey that through language basically typing, you know, do you use exclamation points? Do you use emoji? do you what do you what is your tone? If you could pick it, you know, three descriptive words, what would it be professional but playful, but you know, a little bit sassy, okay, we can play with that, right? But we would never just come up with content without that tone of voice information and exercises because ultimately, if they do leave us, or they go in house or whatever the situation is they need to be able to continue forward. My job is not to, you know, find clients who want me to be there forever. It’s to help them you know, fill the gap in a strategy and tactic area that can be very difficult for brands to You meet. And if we can provide them with all of this crazy good information that is tied to their tone of voice and is tied to their values, then if we go away, they should be able to carry that on very easily.

Minter Dial  35:16

I am jumbling my questions here, because I wanted to get into the disclosures, the emotional disclosures of brands, but you said 95% of our decisions are made through emotions. Yes, there are presumably a large number of questions like is this? What’s the price for this object? $2.99? So when you look at those type of questions, you’re not going to inject emotion into the answer. Or do you suggest, according to your tone? Oh, is it $2.99 with an emoji? Or is how do you deal with that? Which looks like purely factual elements? Are you trying to inject emotion even then?

Brooke Sellas  35:58

Yes, yeah, we do for the brands, obviously, who allow us to do that we work with a brand that does a lot of like craft, they, they manufacture crafting supplies, right? So, crafters are using their products. And so, if a crafter comes along and says like, hey, how much is your label maker? And we’ll say, you know, 2999, and our you know, and have you seen this guide on all the cool things you can do with the label maker? Or we’ll say something like, what are you planning on doing with it? Because we have a lot of tips we can provide for you, you know, like a little winky face or something, if we’re allowed to do that. And if we are allowed to do that, ultimately, the response is better. Because what happens if we ask that question, we usually get a response. And then we can respond back and say, Oh, my gosh, you’re organizing your kitchen? Oh, here’s like, here’s our post on like, how to organize the kitchen with your label maker? Just like Maria. What’s her name Marie? Khan. Anyways, the organizer, I can’t think of her name right now. And people love that right? Then they’ve got this feeling that we’re like, not only friendly and helpful, right? So, there’s two tones of voice, right? They’re helpful, friendly, but they know that they feel safe in the environment of social to come back to us if they have a question or a problem, right? We’re presenting ourselves as a safe place to go. And unfortunately, like some of the bad examples I shared in the book, social scientists a place to go for a lot of brands, customers. And that’s why I think a lot of brands are going to do poorly. You know, if not now soon, because they’re not providing that place for people to go. And again, these younger generations use social more and more to research and shop and ask questions.

Minter Dial  37:45

Well, this feels like a paradox, because if you are suggesting to a brand to share emotions and feelings, that is putting yourself out there, as opposed to clichés and facts. Yes. And, and putting yourself out there. Will invites risky business? Yeah, where were you? You’re going to say, Hey, listen, this is my political stance. I’m for or I’m against a certain stance or whatever, like abortion. So, that’s my feeling well, that can have a whiplash, you know, for the people who are against. Yeah, yeah. And so, safe, but difficult.

Brooke Sellas  38:28

Yes. Well, here’s my here’s my point to that dissolution, you know, like the dissolution of that relationship, because they don’t agree with your value, or they don’t you know, that you support Women’s rights, and they do not, that is not a bad thing. You are only removing the people who are not going to be long-term loyal customers. When you present the value of “hey, we support women’s rights period,” the people who come through and say like, “oh, my gosh, you know, how could you? How could you be like this, blah, blah, blah,” they’re not your long-term customer. They don’t, they’re not sharing the values that you share. And so, dissolution and pushing the wrong people away, while bringing the right people closer is not a bad thing, even though brands would see it that way. But follower account is a vanity metric. Who cares if they if they don’t follow you if they’re not going to buy?

Minter Dial  39:16

Yeah, well, I mean, this is sort of an influence with a million followers who happy to retweet because he finds where she finds her sense of humor. Funny. Yeah, this spring goes back to this point of the employer or the employee rather, because you get we’ve gotten to a situation for a lot of legacy companies who have employees, they now have to have an opinion, but they didn’t have that opinion, or that value stated and claimed as a recruitment device or a policy at the beginning. So, now we’re coming into this and this is our stance on this, this hot issue. Well, you have to evaluate how the employees are. You have to make a stance but there are going to be employees who might not be on the same page 1000 Present. You’re coming in late in the game. And I think that that is also one of the reasons why so many brands struggle to have, quote unquote, an opinion or feeling, because they’ve existed before, they might not have shown anything previously. And, you know, CEOs turning in the rotation coming in rotation of employees means that they really never had a stable idea on this thing. They were just trying to get the product out and selling it.

Brooke Sellas  40:22

Yeah, no, that happens. We had a client, where they were getting pushed from a lot of their employees to support pride publicly as a company. And while they wanted to support pride, and they had no reason not to, they really already had those core values in place. And unfortunately, it didn’t include pride. So, what they did was they formed some internal committees and support groups and activities for those who wanted to support pride within the company. But they still decided that look, because this doesn’t tie to a core value of ours that is going to be public, we won’t be supporting it publicly. And I think that makes sense. I mean, you can’t, you know, if you were to, if you’re a large brand, and you have 1000s, and 1000s, and 1000s of employees, you’re they’re going to ultimately your employees would want you to support every single thing may support. And that’s not possible for a brand. So, you have to know and stick to whatever those core values are. Make sure you document it, disseminate it, right, make sure it becomes a part of that internal communication with your employees. But then also you can do things that boosts effects in our employee experience, like forming that internal committee to have pride events and support pride within the company without necessarily having to go on to social or other platforms to lift that community up.

Minter Dial  41:44

Well, I liked that point. How you insist on you know, you can’t support everything, because I think this is the nature of strategy. I couldn’t help but laugh at the comment you made about Kérastase, which is where I worked before, but in the time that’s limited to us… Yeah, you do need to be responsive. A couple of comments for you. And I just reacted. One of them is FAQ. The problem with FAQ that I’ve seen is that the F doesn’t usually stand up. So, whenever I go on an FAQ, it’s not actually! My question is never there. And I can remember absolutely writing questions and answers to the questions we wanted them to ask us. And then hiding away from actual questions. How does one, you know, there’s an element of data sorting? And understanding what actually are the true questions and you know, like the “Hug Your Haters,” and yes, within that true insights! How do you deal with the FAQ?

Brooke Sellas  42:52

Like, Oh My Gosh! That is a huge, huge, huge part of what we do. So, typically, when we onboard a customer care client, they give us their FAQ that they have. And what we find very quickly apt to your point is that we might get a few questions that fit into that box that they’ve already created, but most of them do not. And that’s why we start that FAQ repository of you know, all of the comments and questions that we get. So, we use a lot of tagging and labeling of the conversations that are happening on social and we also use social listening, because what a lot of brands are missing the boat on is people, you know, you, you and I are on social, we both bought Kérastase, and we’re having a conversation about them, but we’re not actually tagging them, right. So, if we’re not tagging them that information and that data, this this conversation that we’re having about how they don’t respond, or we didn’t like this product, or whatever it is, isn’t coming too late for them, and therefore can’t be added to the FAQ documentation, and therefore leaves them hanging or leaves them short in some way. So, we use social listening, we use tagging, and ultimately that little box of an FAQ becomes not even a box, there are no walls, there is no spoon, as they say in the matrix, right? It’s constantly being iterated and updated. Based on that triage of red goes internal, we get the answer back, it becomes green, we get a lot of what we call yellows, which is where it’s not like, oh, my gosh, somebody needs to handle this person’s complaint right now. But it’s like a weird question, kind of like your ingredient question. That might have been a yellow, right? Because you’re not saying I’m mad, or I’m angry. You’re just curious, like, what is this? And we didn’t have it as in the FAQ documents. So, it’s not a green-yellows always turned into greens because we ended up getting that information, right? The more greens we can answer, the faster we get with that first contact resolution, which is huge, because that’s where you win. As Jay would say, that’s where you win on time to win, right? Because you’re responding quickly. And especially when it’s acquisition questions, like people who want to buy from you and they’re asking those research questions on social. If you’re the first person to answer it was not only The answer some other helpful information or a promo link, or whatever it is, you’re going to nine times out of 10 be the brand that they buy from.

Minter Dial  45:09

Yeah, I do like that way you expressed the difference between acquisition and retention. That was a felt one of the one of the strong AHA has for me, in your book, Brooke, this idea of tagging everything. And in particular, sorting between retention and acquisition.

Brooke Sellas  45:26

Yes, yes, I will say right now like this is, I am not one to gatekeeper information, if you could just start tagging all of the conversations that you get on your social channels, either retention or acquisition. So, that means if somebody’s coming to you post purchase with a complaint or a question, retention, we’re trying to retain this customer, if someone is coming to you, and they’re saying, Hey, is your printer Alexa compatible? That’s a an acquisition question tagging as such, because if you can show the C suite, how much acquisition is coming through your social channels, you can start to prove the value just above social to the C suite, because a lot of people in those roles still don’t understand the value of social.

Minter Dial  46:10

Last question. Brooke, and as we I told you about before we say hit the record button, because it kind of irked me somehow. Where are you put intimate before personal in your in the social penetration theory, so called you had. So, there’s superficial, intimate personal than core, as I saw it, and I was just bemused that intimate should come be considered a more superficial component than personal. I mean, for me, personal, and the most intimate, things are much more hidden and confidential than just personal information. If I make an example, you know, I’m married to a woman, right? That’s a personal thing. It’s nothing to do with my professional element or superficial, it’s I’m married to a woman and great woman, 28 years, that’s not intimate. That’s just personal, intimate would be telling you something more important, about health, about, you know, troubles or, you know, feelings and opinions about it.

Brooke Sellas  47:20

Yes, no, I don’t disagree. Um, that is how was presented in theory. So, I tried to stay true to the science, the psychology, sociology, whatever you want to call it. I tried to stay true to what they said, I don’t necessarily agree with that, either. I think it should be flipped. But ultimately, I think what, what we’re trying to say is, you know, how can you invoke feelings? And we also said, like, what’s the difference between a feelings and emotions? Emotions are sensations in your body? Right? It’s a you’re a chemical reaction to how you’re feeling. Feelings are actually generated from our thoughts about those emotions. So, when I say solicit feelings, you’re making someone think about something to then have an emotion in their body or a sensation of joy or anger, or whatever it may be. Does that make sense?

Minter Dial  48:11

So it’s almost like the feeling is the label of the emotion.

Brooke Sellas  48:17

So yeah, I mean, the emotions, a sensation, like how you feel when you’re happy may be different than how I feel when I’m happy. And we know people have different different types of anger and different types of sadness. But yeah, if you know, the feeling is the label for the emotion.

Minter Dial  48:35

Lovely. Well, Brooke, we have come to the conclusion of this little chat, lovely chat conversations that connect, how can people connect with you get your book and any other links you’d like to share with us?

Brooke Sellas  48:49

Absolutely. So, you can find me on LinkedIn these days. That’s where I’m hanging out the most. Unfortunately, it Twitter used to be my favorite platform, but it’s a bit of a dumpster fire right now. So, I’m hanging out mostly on LinkedIn. You can look for Brooke Sellas, and the book can be found on Amazon conversations that connect or just go to And we’ve got actually chapter one for free there if you want to try before you buy.

Minter Dial  49:20

Nice. Hey, Brooke, thank you so much. Great. Great to have you on site again, and be in touch.

Brooke Sellas  49:26

Thank you.

Minter Dial  49:28

Thanks for coming on the show. Thanks for having listened to this episode of the Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, if you’d like to support me, please consider a donation on You can also subscribe on your favorite podcast service and as ever, rating and reviews are the real currency for podcasts. You’ll find the show notes with over 2000 and more blog posts on Check out my documentary film and four books including my last one, “You Lead, How being yourself makes you a better leader.” And to finish here’s a song I wrote Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

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