Topic: Book Club

Citizen Marketers: Book Review -- Give Us Your Take!

Posted by Anonymous on 500 Points
Hey Bookworms: Please take 5 minutes and give us your "take" on the book...

Are you going to be applying the book’s themes, principles, points and real-world lessons in your own strategies, plans and programs? Did the book deliver clear information on social media...and the impact and influence of citizen marketers? Did you enjoy the read?

You needn't answer the above per se, just provide two sentences or two paragraphs and let us know what you found through your reading. To begin this thread I’ve input my own review in the comment thread. Feel free to use the space you need—it’s YOUR review!

Moderator Note: This discussion refers to the book Citizen Marketers by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell (topic: social media). Click the title to buy the book from Amazon. Then join the conversation. We'd LOVE for you to participate!
To continue reading this question and the solution, sign up ... it's free!


  • Posted on Author
    Citizen Marketers is a worthwhile, interesting read for those both new and familiar with social media. The book covered multiple themes and trends in a digestible, reader-friendly format--and through a conversational flow.

    Citizen Marketers also introduced a balanced perspective through many recent, relevant (and sometimes, humorous) examples of companies getting it right with social media and those foundering in this bottom-up, everything-democratized world...where one person can have a BIG impact.

    I would/will refer the book to colleagues, clients and friends.
  • Posted by Stephen Denny on Accepted
    Citizen Marketers is a great proletarian title, celebrating the ascendance of consumers over providers. Perhaps a more descriptive title would have been, “A Brief History of Social Media, So Far.” We learned about the early and mostly accidental pioneers, instant YouTube celebrities, and other oddities. This clearly wasn’t a “Social Media for Dummies,” telling us what to do. This was a history of what has happened in the infinitesimally short period of time since we gave this thing a name.

    The best you can hope for in a book like this is the ability to understand the causal factors of successful programs so you can shorten your learning curve, make fewer mistakes, and see your payout faster. The nugget for me was the birth of end user communities. How to create them successfully, however, is still something of a question. Do you hope that your customers selflessly come together to create a community that you observe but do not influence, somewhat like a Tivo version of Star Trek’s Prime Directive? Can you proactively seed such a community without overstepping your bounds? If I wanted to have a vast community of end users creating my compatibility guide for me, would I say, “Guys, I can’t do it myself – there are too many options out there – can you help?” and hope I avoided the derision and loss of loyalty that would come from a backlash? I’m not sure I have that answer.

    To be clear, I’m not blaming the authors for not knowing the answer here, either. This is a moving target and what works today may be leapfrogged tomorrow. I think a deeper dive into why certain things worked and why others failed might have helped me get more out of this – and maybe these lessons haven’t been learned yet! Sounds like a sequel!
  • Posted on Accepted
    Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba have written an easy-to-read look at how everyday consumers are becoming involved in marketing and stewardship of brands. They help us understand the different types of citizen marketers and what drives them. The authors also include an interesting variety of examples of marketers' responses to and engagement of – or lack thereof – citizen marketers and how those actions helped or hurt the brand.

    It's an excellent and eye-opening introduction to the growing power of blogging and how it can be used or abused by marketers.
  • Posted on Accepted
    One of the first things that struck me when I began reading Citizen Marketers, was the ability that Ben and Jackie (calling them McConnell and Huba just doesn't fit) have to take a concept as misunderstood as Social Media, and scale it down to where it is accessible to all, and to do so without talking down to the reader. In fact, the book does such a good job of giving background on the various forms of social media, that it can double as a general primer on the subject.

    But where CM shines is in explaining what exactly Citizen Marketing is, who these people are, and what motivates them. I'll be honest, going into reading this book, I was a bit worried that this would simply be a collection of case studies providing examples of citizen marketing, bookended with an introduction and conclusion chapter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Ben and Jackie have done exhaustive research into the subject of citizen marketing, and instead of simply rehashing examples such as the CGM buzz behind Snakes on a Plane, Jarvis' Dell Hell, or the liberation of Fiona Apple (quite possibly my favorite story in the book, which I'd never heard of previously), Ben and Jackie talked to all the parties involved, and discovered what they did, why they did it, and who they did it for.

    Their conclusion was that they were dealing with, concerned citizens. Citizens whose love of their favorite brand compelled them to take action on its behalf. And thanks to the rise of the internet, and more specifically social media, those concerned citizens not only have the tools necessary to produce their own brand marketing, they have the ability to reach others, and mobilize them to share their cause. One person's blog post lamenting the cancellation of a favorite TV show can blossom into a full-fledged petition drive that saves the series. A bad customer service experience at a fast food restaurant can be recorded and uploaded to YouTube within minutes. Jarvis' post about his dissatisfaction over his Dell erupted into Dell Hell, which eventually forced the Austin-based computer maker to totally re-examine their customer-service, and revamp their policy on reading and responding to bloggers(IOW, creating a policy for reading and responding to bloggers).

    But in my opinion, the heart of the book lies in Ben and Jackie's breakdown of Citizen Marketers into four distinct categories, which they have dubbed 'The Four Fs', all with their own motivations for their actions. I'll quote the pair from their Church of the Customer blog on their roles:

    1. Filters

    The Filters are human wire services. They collect traditional media stories, bloggers’ rants and raves, podcasts, or fan creations about a specific company or brand and then package this information into a daily or near-daily stream of links, story summaries, and observations.

    Most Filters maintain a steady objectivity like traditional news wire services, but some Filters cross over into analysis. For the most part, Filters are not prone to fits of pique or confrontation, and they occasionally produce their own journalistic work.

    2. Fanatics

    The Fanatics are true believers and evangelists. They love to analyze the daily or weekly progress of a brand, product, organization, or person and prescribe courses of action. They are, essentially, volunteer coaches.

    The Fanatics praise great work -- which may vary widely from marketing to accessory development -- but they will also critique mistakes or obvious lapses in full view of the world, just like a coach may do as a teaching tool.

    3. Facilitators

    Facilitators are community creators. Their primary citizen marketer tool is a Web-based bulletin board or community software. Facilitators are like the mayors of online towns, and some online communities exceed the populations of small cities.

    4. Firecrackers

    Firecrackers are the one-hit wonders of citizen marketers. They can attract considerable attention because they have created a song, animation, video, or novelty that generates a lot of interest but tends to die out quickly as the creators go on with their other work.

    Sometimes the proverbial wild hair springs up and a few hours later, two guys with a video camera record a funny rap about McDonald’s McNuggets, post it to a few video-sharing sites, and watch it accumulate 70,000 views. Not all Firecrackers are get-’em-out-fast productions. George Masters’ homemade ad for the iPod was a popular one-hit wonder, but he spent five months creating it.

    In conclusion, buy this book. It isn't a marketing book, it's a book about your community of customers. What motivates them, and what inspires them to take action, both on behalf of, and against your brand. A customer is shaken from their apathy toward a brand, and spurned to action either in response to a brand's indifference towards them, or as a result of the brand's reaching out and offering the hand of empowerment to them. Right now your brand likely sits on one side of this fence, and gaining a better understanding of your customers and what gives them the incentive to act, will help you understand how they view you.

  • Posted on Accepted
    McConnell and Huba delivered on the promise of an insightful and practical manual to navigate the vagaries of today's marketplace with panache and a heavy dose of realism. This is important because today more than ever, business needs to reengage with life as the roles we fulfill have mixed and in some cases overlapped.

    What we have called the experience economy with Pine/Gilmore and the conceptual age with Pink has now become a conversation. One where content and product producers, delivery channels, audience and customers come together to define the future of work and the creation of meaning; the meeting of the minds resulting in commercial and intrinsic value.

    The new culture is one of personal identity and ownership; individual meets environment and thanks to advancements in technology makes sense of the proliferation of information to deliver her/his message. People want to count, not be counted.

    This book is the springboard to new thinking and a valuable resource to learn new behavior-- a required reading to navigate today's complex market dynamics and make new customers in the process.
  • Posted on Accepted
    I found this book both informative, particularly in the wealth of examples, and intriguing in that it caused me to think more deeply about the growing relationship and overlap between social media and mass media. The book's informative comment on blogging, podcasting and the wealth of social media sites and users has caused me to reevaluate how I teach mass media and how I examine the relationship of mass media and social media to marketing.

    While I'm not certain the world of media is changing as rapidly as the book might indicate, I do think that for all of us who teach mass media, there is certainly ample evidence that the old methods and models don't work as well as they used to. A new world of citizen media is definitely upon us, and it may very well be marketing that is leading the way.
  • Posted by Mark Goren on Accepted
    I flew through this book. Not because it was light reading, because it was so engaging. Ben and Jackie found a thorough way to explain what motivates people like you and me to function as micro-agencies that work on the behalf of – or against – brands.

    What really spoke to me, though, came in Chapter 7: How to Democratize Your Business. Thinking about my own clients, this chapter provides ideas and smart insights on how to engage consumers and get them talking. The examples they provide and the companies used to show how to do it right are real eye openers. Converse, Ban, Shakira, The Beastie Boys, Lego, Discovery, Microsoft, New Line Cinema, to name a few, have all embraced their fans, and either got them involved or embraced their existing involvement to great effect.

    Here’s the lesson I took from the book:

    You can’t sit back. People are working on your company’s behalf as a hobby to promote, generate excitement and just talk about the aspects of your business that excite them or drive them nuts. Whatever the case, they’re out there and you’ve got to embrace them. Listen to them. Hear what they’re saying, good or bad, and make room for their thoughts and ideas in your organization.

    As the tools to self-publish become easier to use and high-speed connections become more and more accessible, the numbers of everyday people out there sharing, connecting and promoting will rise exponentially.

    Never mind being ready then. The time to get in with these powerful people is now.

    After all, they are your marketers.
  • Posted on Accepted
    I thoroughly enjoyed the book, both personally and professionally. "Citizen Marketers" reinforced for me that marketers like myself, who have been in the business for many years, must step back and process a whole new way of thinking about the role of the consumer and the impact of the "democratization of voice" enabled by the web. (I used to be one of those "Suits" the book references!)

    Personally, my 14-year old daughter and I shared side-bursting laugh out loud hysterics as we checked out both Slave to Target and the Diet Coke and Mentos clip. We had not seen either and we thank the authors of Citizen Marketers for the introduction!!
  • Posted on Accepted
    Try to find a way to work “Citizen Marketers” into your already hectic schedule! It is well researched, well written and not too long. What a concept! It's nice to have all of these examples pulled together with additional information added through interviews with the principals. I like the categorization of the 4 F's -- Filters, Fanatics, Facilitators, and Firecrackers. As marketers, we now have to determine some way to handle the negative versions and make hay with the positive expressions.

    The latest tools have made it much easier to deliver a personal message to one or millions. It’s not like cave man days when an audience of one to see a painting was a random wanderer through the cave. Humans have always had a desire to express themselves (and hopefully someone would see the expression) but it was a real pain to carve those messages into rocks.

    Now, more people can easily find a way to find their 15 minutes of fame through personal expression with Web 2.0 technology. The idea that millions of these expressions will now find their way into at least some of our lives is more than a little scary. Whatever your point of interest – there is a lot of really bad stuff out there on the net.

    This book points out all to well that marketers must add a few more ideas and skills into their professional bag of tricks. We’ll have to come up with ways to make sure that the products and services we manage daily will be able to take advantage of the positive "citizens" in our sphere of influence while holding up under the negative battering initiated by an unhappy "citizen."

    The push and pull of citizen marketers will only enliven the debates surrounding how and what we communicate to each other. We get to do all of this with space age technology being managed by human brains that evolve much more slowly. This book is a good place to start the debate that is only beginning between the white hat and black hat “citizen marketers.”
  • Posted on Accepted
    It was very interesting reading this not only as a marketer, but as a citizen marketer. I realize that marketing isn't just social marketing. But, I see social marketing as a natural part of marketing because I do not remember a time without it.

    As a citizen marketer, reading examples that I can connect with urged me to keep doing what I do. This book should be passed to these groups to see in print that they are changing the face of marketing. I remember signing the Free Fiona campaign. I received a voice mail from Samuel L Jackson reminding me to go see Snakes on a Plane (sent to me by a friend, which I was disappointed wasn't mentioned in the book). My sibling participated in a Diet Coke & Mentos video: (In the spirit of sharing:

    I would have loved to see more about how and when this type of marketing should be integrated into a classical marketing plan. It's natural that because this type is disruptive, that in most recorded cases it will just fall into the lap of the company. However, as it grows it's starting to become part of the plan, and I would have liked to see more time spent on that. I would like to have seen the inner workings of implementing social marketing, from convincing management to planning it so it isn't written off as fake to dealing with the community reaction. Since I don't know what it's like on the corporate side to not consider social marketing, learning how to deal with its integration would have been very helpful.

    Overall, great easy read, was a delight over the New Year. Keep em coming!


Post a Comment