Back in '99, The Cluetrain Manifesto said that markets were nothing more than conversations and message-based marketing was the ''Anti-conversation". In light of this it insisted that companies should converse directly with 'we'- the people, if they wanted to communicate.
Since then the popularity of social media and networking sites like MySpace and Facebook has indeed mushroomed exponentially. Rapidly, we are seeing these media overshadow the 'old' media, as consumers turn to each other for the content-creation and conversation that these applications allow. In fact, this year saw the first ever user-generated marketing awards!
So what does this mean for us?
It used to be our job to inform people about new brands, products and services, but now people are increasingly turning to user-generated content and reviews to inform their purchasing decisions and opinions. Interestingly though, our research showed that it is only 8% of the UK online population that are uploading the content that the others consume, exchange and talk about.
We agree with the precept that markets are conversations, but what are people basing their conversations on? We decided to dig a little deeper and find out more about these informers of the people... what drives them to do what they do and what potential influence do they have both online and offline?
We have summarised an initial interpretation of our findings (see pdf) and are keen to kick off a conversation around these ideas...