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Cluetrain Manifesto literature review


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Cluetrain Manifesto literature review

  1. 1. 1. Intro duction The text that I have chosen to examine for my literature review is ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual’ and the title of my literature review is ‘The Marketplace is a Conversation’. The Internet is providing a platform for people to discover and share relevant information in real-time. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter, smarter than most companies; these markets have become conversations (Locke, et al., 1999). I intend to examine how the Internet and the prevalence of social media technologies are changing the marketplace from one that voices its message to a passive audience to a model that is based on engagement and interaction. 1.1 The Evolution of the Media Landscape The media landscape has change dramatically over the past five hundred years, with the printing press redefining the landscape in 1454 to the present day of the Internet. The media of industrialisation is considered to be broadcast media where companies told its audience their message and those people reacting by buying that good or product based on the advertising. Television became the focal point of many houses in the Western World and companies would purchase advertising time to bombard the viewers with their marketing message; if companies advertised directly to a consumer their sales would go up. This was the media of the 20th century, but the Internet came along twenty years ago allowing native support for groups and conversation at the same time, where the telephone gave us one-to-one and television gave us one-to-many, we now have many-to-many scenario — marketing has moved from a monologue to a dialogue (Shirky, 2009). 1.2 The Problem with Industrialised Media The Industrial Age witnessed high rates of production, as goods were being mass-produced. As a result companies employed the techniques of mass marketing to increase the levels of consumption to sell their goods. The use of advertising through mediums like the television symbolised the relationship between consumer demand, TV advertising, and ever-growing companies that were built around investments in ever-increasing marketing expenditures (Godin, 2002). The problem with the TV-industrial complex is that it broadcasts messages to an audience that are unwilling to listen. As Locke, et al. (1999, p.81) states in The Cluetrain Manifesto “the industrial interruption of the human conversation is coming to an end”. 1
  2. 2. 1.3 Transition to ‘New Marketing’ We are now post-consumption consumers; we have what we need, we want very little, and we’re too busy to spend a lot of time researching something created for us. The marketing department’s job has been to take a nearly finished product or service and spend money to communicate its special benefits to a target audience (Godin 2002). This approach no longer works. Before advertising, marketing solely consisted of the word of mouth. With the advent of advertising, coupled with the mass appeal of television and mass media, companies would see sales go up as a result. We are now back where we started but “word of mouth has gone global” (Locke, et al., 1999, p.81). O’Reilly (2004) has described the Internet as an architecture of participation and Godin (2008) states in Tribes that it has eliminated geography. Consumers are now talking about goods and services, regardless of whether they are in London or Dubai, and these conversations are connecting consumers. 2. Social Media The previous segments have highlighted the change in media landscape as a result of the Internet, but these changes would not have taken place if it hadn’t been for the groups of people that are using the emerging tools that have provided the framework for collaborating and taking collective action. The real power of these groups has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with the people (Godin, 2008). Having the communication tools in place has merely provided a platform for group-forming but the tools that have been built for them have harnessed its full potential, making it fast, easy and cheap to form groups as a result of these new social tools. Shirky (2008, p.20) highlights in Here Comes Everybody, “When we change the way we communicate, we change society”. Social technologies now exist that connect people around a variety number of themes, such as sharing videos (YouTube), photographs (Flickr) or sharing what’s happening in one hundred and forty characters or less (Twitter). A good example of how these tools can be used to bring about social change was the 2008 presidential campaign. Barack Obama’s party launched a web-based campaign that rewrote the rules on how to reach voters, raise money, organise supporters, manage the media and wage political attacks (Leadbeater, 2008). Using the web Obama was able to raise $50 million in twenty-eight days (Godin, 2008). Obama’s party used these technologies in imaginative ways to connect with his supporters. Not only did the candidate with the greatest Twitter presence win the election, but just about all observers said that Obama had been the most discussed candidate, on election night alone there were a million mentions of Obama (Israel, 2009). 2
  3. 3. 2.1 Social Media Technologies Social tools have made it easier for us as a society to share, cooperate and take collective action (Shirky, 2008). Cluetrain was published in 1999. At the time the authors didn’t know what a blog was, YouTube had yet to be invented and Twitter would not follow for almost a decade later, but the premise that the “market is a conversation” had been established. With the advent of social media technologies we have witnessed this fact — consumers are now eager to engage in the discourse of commerce (Li, 2009). Marketing used to be about advertising, and advertising is expensive. Today, marketing is about engaging with the audience and delivering products and services with stories that spread. These stories spread as a result of new social tools but the real power of group-forming has nothing to do with the technologies and everything to do with people. Technologies will come and go but the lesson is that everyday it becomes easier to tighten the relationship with the people who choose to follow you (Godin, 2008). Tools like Twitter bring groups together and provide a forum for the conversation. 2.2 Twitter Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that enables users to connect with other people and message, or tweet, each other in one hundred and forty characters or less. This constraint means that people can update their accounts using their mobile phones, but far more importantly restricts users to update their status with concise and relevant messages. As Pascal1 says, “If I had more time, I would have written [you] a shorter letter” implying that it takes more time to craft your thoughts and ideas in a concise manner. Twitter itself is a prime example of the power of conversation and new marketing. It started off as a tool for a team of employees at Odeo to communicate with each other. At the end of the first day of launch there were the twelve employees of Odeo plus eight of their friends. Three years and two months later Twitter had a user base of 32 million with no money invested in traditional marketing, PR, or advertising (Israel, 2009). Twitter’s members marketed Twitter to the ‘unconverted’ as they thought it was a service worth talking about. Twitter is now doing for business what it itself had done. It is allowing big companies to connect and talk with a wide 1 The origins of this quote are unclear and has been attributed to Hemingway, Cicero, Voltaire, Twain, Elliott, and Blaise Pascal. 3
  4. 4. variety of their customers. Twitter is the most effective tool yet delivered into the growing arsenal of social media tools (Israel, 2009), “Twitter is not a technology. It’s a conversation” (Li, 2009). 3. Refl ection The market is very much a conversation with many entering into discussion, both companies and consumers. There is no longer a demand for marketing messages, but there is tremendous demand for good conversation (Locke, et al., 1999). Social media tools are providing the platform for these discussions and whilst Twitter is the prevailing technology at the minute we may see a new tool in the near future that will bring us even closer together. This new philosophy is relevant to my practice as the web is changing to cater for our new expectations and needs. Big companies and people are engaging with each other in new and exciting ways. Cluetrain predicted that markets would have to change how they operated a decade ago and we are now seeing the ramifications of this transition. The next five years will see the refinement of existing social tools and new ways to connect which will heavily impact on my practice. 4
  5. 5. Bibliography Godin, S. 2002. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. New York: Portfolio. Godin, S. 2008. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. New York: Portfolio. Israel, S. 2009. Twitterville: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods. New York: Portfolio. Keen, A. 2008. The Cult of the Amateur. London: Nicholas Brealey. Leadbetter, C. 2008. We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production. London: Profile Books Ltd. Locke, C. Levine, R. Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. 1999. Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual. New York: Perseus Books. Scoble, R. & Israel, S. 2006. Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customer. New Jersey: Wiley. Shirky, C. 2008. Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens When People Come Together. London: Penguin Press. Links Gillmor, D. 2006. We the Media. [ebook] California: O’Reilly. Available at Authorama [Accessed 10 December 2009]. O’Reilly, 2004. The Architecture of Participation. [Online] (Updated June 2004) Available at: [Accessed 23 December 2009]. 5