Question

Topic: Book Club

Citizen Marketers: Where Is The Tipping Point?

Posted by Anonymous on 500 Points
Citizen marketers have more tools than ever to create their marketing, and as a result, their efforts are gaining more exposure. My question is, will we ever reach a point where companies start actively reaching out to citizen marketers to include them in their marketing plans, much like New Line Cinemas did with Brian Finkelstein's efforts to promote Snakes on a Plane? Will major companies ever decide to employ someone whose duties include finding and reaching out to citizen marketers?

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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!
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RESPONSES

  • Posted on Member
    My money is on that a new job title a la "brand evangelist manager" or "director of social media relations" will emerge over the next 12 months. Right now companies are juggling this responsibility with current resources (or maybe through their agencies). What's needed is a real commitment and a real dept. dedicated to (1) initiating and managing these relationships and (2) creating/contributing value to these communities--as throwing press releases and ad jargon at them isn't value.
  • Posted on Accepted
    Absolutely- Traditional marketeers are busy scouting for media with the kind of involvement that Citizen Marketeers demonstrate. Just the postings of questions on this website show the diversity with which marketeers are planning media including usage of Youtube,myspace etc.
    Large organisations will embrace this faster- most have blogs going under generic and not brand names. Case in Point- SunsilkGangofgirls.com
  • Posted on Accepted
    Some companies already are doing that. At some point this week I'll be posting my inaugural article at Fast Company Experts blog, which will detail my story with the magazine and how I became an evangelist 7 years ago -- that was way before the time of social media, etc.

    I'm talking about FC readers' network, Company of Friends.
  • Posted on Member
    Yes, we'll need 'ambassadors' - good term since I see 'evangelists' as on the customer side even tho' companies have that title left and right (especially tech co's). We just need to ensure they follow best practices which are way SIMPLE but as Mack the discussion leader can tell you, very DIFFICULT for co's to understand. Practices like transparency, listening (really), taking the negative feedback and doing something with it and engaging an audience for far longer than a specified campaign.

    I say that "goin' social" is so hard because it's so easy. It's based on some simple practices--we learned them in grade school not grad school. Having involved myself in social media for 6 months, I've accumulated even more of an argument for transparency, listening, engagement and action.
  • Posted on Member
    Bobg: Yes the paycheck is way sticky. It has to be so transparent to consumers that the ambassador actually has to state boldly and clearly: "I get paid by X but I get paid to channel feedback, solutions, complaints and, yes, praise."

    The company really has to stick its neck out in doing this, but the thing is, it's migrating that way anyhow. Look at how Dell has been MADE to respond. Take MSoft and countless others. Better they're proactive then reactive. But, alas, we have a huge barrier in getting past legal as co's are, understandably, going to be grappling with what they can say and how much they can air on their own sides about what others are saying.

    Interesting tho', that some movie studios are now having Technorati (search engine for blogs) "syndicate in" (not out) content of reviews--be they good or bad--onto the websites for the movies. Think about it: movies are having a bugger of a time (declining box-office $$ for several years) and they're finding that when they post authenticity (reviews both good and bad) they start to engage their users.
  • Posted on Accepted
    It occurred to me that Amazon.com's been doing some of this for years. They allow people to post reviews (good or bad), and others to decide if the reviews were helpful or not (rate the reviewer). People can also contribute content, like "reading lists" or "movie lists."

    Although Amazon.com doesn't make these products, they sell them, and if people review products badly...they don't get sold. Ultimately, Amazon.com decided that soliciting honest opinion was better than filtering only "the good stuff."

    I think if co's make this small step...allowing people to post reviews of their product for all to see, they'd be partway there. Opening the dialogue is is just the first step, but it might start a relationship. And if people start giving them ideas about how to improve the product, then all the better.
  • Posted on Member
    I particularly would like to weigh in what Bob is saying here-- reaching out should be an attribute of attitude vs. job description. Certainly, the people in the front lines, i.e. marketing, customer service, sales, anyone in the field, should be required to know how to protect and produce a conversation.

    CK suggests the term "ambassador"; I like that. Perhaps champion may be a consideration as well? After all, we know little gets done until there is someone to take that on. Ambassador holds the qualities of stewardship and good will; champion feels more actionable.

    One of the strongest points the book made is the need for authenticity. And now I'm thinking about that movie and Jack Nicholson saying: "Do you want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" Can we? We must. We also must understand that what we hear is one truth, not *the* truth. We think as we are.

    And after we digest all that, we have the ethical duty to filter the information through our knowledge and experience, add a dash of take-it-at-face-value spice, mix some give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt and make something of it. Understanding that doing nothing -- and communicating back our decision and possibly reason(s) why -- is also a way to respond to the issue and answer the person.
  • Posted by lrmarroquin on Accepted
    We will reach the point, although the commitment of resources to reach the citizen marketers audience will rely on how trustworthy this new media become and how much control do the companies want to loose.

    How long will it take for some companies to realize the strategic value this new media offers? some companies will change their mind in a disruptive way, after been beaten up by a displeased customer, and others will embrace it easily foreseeing the value they can create from it, both kind of companies will share a common situation: they are surrendering the power the used to exert on customers behavior, because it is better to loose a bit of control than to loose it at all.

    It is hard to understand that value is created in the boundaries of control, where creativity spurs, I am a fervid believer of the creativity value, but I know creativity and order (control) donĀ“t get along well for a long time. Companies will try to catch a quote of power again, they will collude as customers do and will create a way to label confidence too, this struggle, if it is successful, will take us again to another equilibrium point, a discussion that game theorists surely will enjoy.

    I would like to know who will be the final one who will hold the power to solve the battle in what we have been since economy was born, will be a citizen marketer or will be a couple enterprise-citizen marketer partnership?So far the experience owe to say: customers rule!
  • Posted on Accepted
    To Mack's questions,

    Companies will reach out more to CMs. The key when reaching out is to be authentic and not overdo it. Target overdid it when their marketing dept. slowly began to flood the blogger mentioned in the book (sorry name I don't recall).

    To begin reaching out, start off with research be it through a research agency, PR firm, customer referral logs, salespeople, and valued customers (give them a perk for any insight).

    There are a variety of tactics once you engage with these CMs and their communities, but I suggest that the firm itself...not a PR agency, participate (since responsiveness and authenticity is paramount).

    Secondly, and as was mentioned by CK earlier....if proactive endoresement/review methods are employed through monetary or other compensation...be Transparent about it. You can follow a great controversy going on now about vista-preloaded high-end laptops given by microsoft to some influential bloggers and the response so far at a few links:

    https://tinyurl.com/wsdwb
    https://tinyurl.com/tsv8k
  • Posted on Author
    Great conversation guys. My fear is, like so many other things in business, that companies aren't willing to embrace and reach out to Citizen Marketers until they can track how much money they are making or losing by doing this. This is a big reason why I think blogging at the company level is so slow to take off, because companies can't find a place for it on the balance sheet.

    Hopefully as companies see the power of social media as a whole, they'll be more receptive to it and citizen marketing in all forms.
  • Posted by Drew McLellan on Accepted
    Mack,

    Like others have said -- I think it is already happening but in small numbers and in industries that we'd expect like entertainment/movies.

    I'm not sure that this isn't a bit like an avalanche. It's coming whether the business world likes it or not. Because it is not a one-way dialogue, companies cannot stop it from happening. Really, their only choices are:

    Ignore it
    Just listen
    Jump into the conversation
    Initiate conversations

    I believe that ultimately down the road it's a mater of where in the continuum you sit. Not that you remove the continuum.

    I do think, within a year, it will not be at all uncommon to see this as a part of a company's marketing plan and budget -- be it for staff, technology, etc.

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