Nov 14, 2009

Conversation Friday - aka Empowering Friday

Yesterday, Michael Calienes came by the agency to speak with around 10 of us from within the agency and a few influential folks from the social media scene to discuss topics. Michael conducts what he calls Conversation Friday more frequently in Tallahassee, where he lives, but he was in town for the weekend and suggested that we gather for a chat.

What I found so interesting, was how powerful I felt, as a consumer and citizen in controlling my destiny in the future. Our discussion began around product placement - and how we felt about the Cisco product placement on 30Rock. We all discussed how product placement is acceptable provided it is natural. I mentioned the Project Runway where they went the LA Times and made clothing out of paper - I felt that episode went too far and Project Runway actually lost credibility with me. And what a sad sight to see that folks are no longer reading the newspaper but are now being forced to wear it... The points that were made were around how you can actually blog & tweet this point of view and get enough traction to actually make a difference.

This case in point was reinforced with our discussion around brands, products, and ideas that do or do not get it. If you're not paying close attention to what folks are saying on Twitter and beyond, then you don't get it. One person's frustration around a product can quickly spread to the masses particularly if their frustration isn't an isolated incident.

When the discussion turned to politics in New Orleans - a very hot issue in this town - we talked about the mayoral candidate pool. Is it possible for someone to actually win an election through social media (yes, we do recognize how influential the web was for Obama - and vice versa)? My point of view is that it's 100% possible if you have a fucking strategy. Just announcing you're the social media candidate and then flailing about on the internet is not going to win you an election via Twitter - if anything, it can do damage if you proclaim you're something that you clearly demonstrate you are not. We had some incredibly influential folks in the social media space at this discussion - Champ Superstar, Liz Money, Austin Lavin. They have alot of influence on the NOLA Twittersphere and with greater influence comes great responsibility. Could they choose a candidate they support and drive that candidate toward a successful election - I believe absolutely. Even down to the $$ drive, which we pointed out can now come from well beyond New Orleans.

It all supports the power that we all have for good or for not so good. The challenge, and this is where strategy comes in, is to put a plan together and to know what you will and won't do with your brand, your product, your election. I think it's really exciting that individuals have finally been given some power back - in the wake of our financial crisis compounded with the misdirection of our federal government, citizens will now be paying much closer attention to who is or isn't acting appropriately. And 'they' don't - they'll certainly be called on the carpet.

My thanks go to Michael for starting the conversation, Addie King for organizing the conversation, and everyone that attended for participating - I loved the dialog and feel pretty empowered. Here's hoping we do it again AND perhaps extend it to 2 hours.