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Leading the client ‘conversation’

A couple of posts from around the blogossphere have started to raise the question…ok, so just how do we get our clients to do social media/interactive/conversational media? I think this is a natural evolution of social media (which I’m moderating a panel on the topic in September in Chicago, shameless plug) as we see that budgets are starting to swing toward implanting more social media programs.

It was Sean’s ( post that got me thinking about the idea, as he was thinking about how to work the client into the idea of the ‘Fan Loop’. But in his post, an interesting leadership bi-polarization comes out of his post. The examples he gives references how it was the “client” not the agency that pushed for new ideas, yet the agencies he mentions as leaders in this space are recognized and known to have lead their clients to do interactive brand ideas. And agencies should be leaders, pushing clients. As an agency, we should be in the best position to understand what brand experiences the brand can provide and the experiences the consumer is desiring. While we can be successful when clients push us, agencies need to start becoming the leaders in this discussion. This demonstrates that we understand how to lead the conversation with consumers.

That’s what we want to do, but how do we do it?

Jeremiah (Web Strategy by Jeremiah) has a good post on how to create a social media plan. But as I commented, I think his post left out one major sticking point, that social media (or conversational media) works best when it has content or purpose (or “story) to share with the consumer which activates the consumer to participate in the brand experience, this giving them a reason to become a ‘fan’. (some may call this ‘designed experience’)

Which moves us, the client and agency, out of the tactical discussion and to the achieve (strategy) discussion. What is it that we want to lead consumers to say/do? But as Matt (Techno//Marketer) points out, while that’s ideal, what happens when the client shows up with a tactic already well ingrained in their mind?

Going back to Sean’s examples, the BMW films shared that brand experience of…you rev that engine, take that turn and yes, in a BMW you do have just a little bit of a ‘spy’ like feeling. Something of and ego stroke, something of power…(given I’m taking many liberties here) but the films where able to share that. The HD Google gadget shared one of the main HD brand DNA’s (which I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone) that the HD brand has a community experience. Looking in at Sturgis is exactly what brand/consumers what to be a part of, that experience which gives the consumers a story to tell.

So in talking with your clients about doing interactive ideas, it is our job to lead the discussion to help the client understand that the conversation is happening, it is a good idea to create brand fans, and the tactical ideas should come out of sharing a designed brand experience that the brand has to offer to help enhance, or give ‘story’, to consumers. We should emphasis tapping into what the brand has to offer. Then we should look at a larger picture, are there other brand properties or media content opportunities that the social media plan/conversational plan can be integrated with? Could we find was to help enable consumers to spread their story that we are giving them?

And I’m sure, this is all easier said than done.