I was on an interesting ORM panel a couple of weeks ago and I got asked to prepare a 3min presentation/talk on whether I believed communities are killing brands. A fun little presentation on the topic.
In the 90s we started to get an indiciation, with the advent of the internet, that communities may start having more power than the brands themselves…
This culminated in the Cluetrain manifesto – 95 thesis’s looking at the new brand and consumer environment. It had brands running for cover with an innate acceptance for what it said…
… but a fear of what was to come. The environment was going through a radical change.
One which pealed away the years of marketing and communications hype and when the dust settled the consumer came out ontop. Not because of their individual impact but because of how well consumers were able to share idea, co-ordinate efforts and behave as a mob.
Never again could the truth be covered up. Brands who try eventually get found out and suffer the consequences.
But with 66% of brand touch points controlled by the consumer we have ourselves a problem. Brands need to get their consumers to build their brand on their behalf – no easy activity. There are however two approaches.
Firstly, actively reinforce the desired behavior in consumers.
Secondly, accept that we cannot know the answer as the environment is constantly shifting. Instead look to resolve problems identified by consumers and use this to build consumer centric businesses.
And the model to achieve this is simple. Identify a problem based on consumer data. Resolve the problem. PR and communicate the solution as it’s being resolved. Watch the consumer response to your resolution and find the next problem to fix.
So, in summary. No, consumers are not killing brands. They are giving them all the necessary feedback to be bigger, better and more focused on what their clients needs actuall are.
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