We all have that friend, the one who we are excited to see because we haven't seen them in a while, but when we do meet up they monopolize the conversation with all of their problems.
Then we re-realize why we haven't seen them in a while. They are a one-way conversation with themselves and they could be talking to anyone. We may get our chance to tell our story, but this conversation is not a real dialogue. It's not allowing for genuine, creative, authentic real time responses. It is difficult for people to have conversations that aren't trying to promote one sides agenda over the others.
It is especially difficult for brands to shift from message broadcasting, to a mass audience to authentic conversations with their advocates.
One way to ensure that brands have meaningful conversations is to create a conversational calendar. A "conversational calendar" is an "always-on", year long and beyond plan to provide useful content, promote a dialogue and find a balance between the brands needs and the needs of their advocates. It's starts by understanding what is valuable to your advocates. What gets them excited to engage with your brand? Is it a particular social cause you support, an issue they care about, a contest, free products, insider information, being listened to, special offers... Whatever it may be, you have to genuinely support what they care about and want to help (like Pepsi Refresh), and that means honestly caring about others and not just getting your brand messages weaved into the conversation. If you can engage and promote authentic conversations, you will be able to earn even more commitment from your advocates and purpose for your brand. Don't be that friend who doesn't listen, be that friend who asks questions and truly wants to know what the other wants and support them as much as possible.