Marketing in the good old days
In the past marketers thought they were in control of their brand and their messages. They had lots of resources and became expert at creating above the line and below the line campaigns that pushed their messages out to their consumers. In this world few consumers had the resources to talk back to the brands or their marketers.
Few consumers had the knowledge or the money to commission a TV ad campaign or print media campaign to answer back or to make counter claims against the might of the brand.
This brave new world
The landscape has been changing over the past few years. The internet, fuelled by web 2.0 technologies, has given ordinary people a voice and a channel to talk back to marketers and their brands. Suddenly the unequal power relations that marketers have enjoyed for so long have shifted. And with that shift the illusion of control is rapidly disappearing.
People have always talked about brands, companies and products, but this has usually been on a limited scale. The scale of those conversations was limited by the size of people's day to day social networks and the relative cost of pushing the conversation out to other people. Thus conversations about brands, companies and products used to be limited to the people one met throughout the day or with whom one had a phone conversation.
A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter -- and getting smarter faster than most companies -- Cluetrain Manifesto
What has really started to shift this landscape for marketers is the ability consumers have to scale their conversations about brands, companies and products nowadays.
New tools refactoring old ways
Social computing enables collaboration without deep technical knowledge. And we are starting to see it go mainstream. Now ordinary people can create online media channels to get their own messages out. They can also co-opt the marketing messages and brands and re-engineer them (like this Diet Coke & Mentos example or Jeremiah Owyang’s Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media ).
Social computing has empowered ordinary people to access the kind of technology that was once only the preserve of very large organisations. Here the term social computing includes concepts such as social media, social networking, etc. The growth of online social networks -- like Facebook et al. -- means that ordinary people now have access to much broader networks. With these tools individuals can maintain loose ties with many more people online than was possible offline. And they can maintain that network of relationships at a relatively low entry cost in terms of both time and money. It also means that like-minded groups of people can now find each other more easily.
The landscape for marketing and for marketers has well and truly shifted. But the real question is how do the old principles of marketing apply in this new landscape?
Kate Carruthers is a digital strategist.