WoM: Consumers In Control - Respect, Trust & Marketers Learning to Live With It
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Respect, Trust &
to Live With It.
Robert J. Gould, Ph.D.
December 12, 2006
from a drizzle to a hurricane
• Mobile phones/text messaging
• Digital cameras
• Cheap video production
AND ON, AND ON, AND ON
Power booster 1 –
Horizontal knowledge acquisition & production
• We have rapidly increasing ability to:
• Obtain, organize, share and control information from
both vertical and horizontal sources.
• Produce and share information of rapidly improving
quality (video, graphics, etc.).
• Discuss, question and challenge any information we
Power booster 2 –
Horizontal social networking
• We’re social animals. We seek out people who share
our interests and values, and establish communities.
• In the vertical era, limitations of time, space and
media ensured that demographics, geography and
shared vertical media experience dominated social
• In the horizontal era, people can network with
whomever -- whenever, wherever, and however
many -- along myriad shared interests.
Power booster 3 –
Horizontal consensus building
• For “social animals,” conforming to peer group and
cultural norms is a matter of survival.
• New technologies are empowering rapid consensus
building – around ideas, entertainment, products and
• It now takes minutes, not months, to know what
“we” think about anything.
Power booster 4 –
• When vertical influence dominated, turning
horizontal consensus into action was very
expensive and very time consuming.
Coordinating meetings, protests, voter drives,
letter writing campaigns, social events or
finding stores with the best prices, made the
step between consensus and consequence a
• In the horizontal world – with flash crowds,
bloggings, e-mails, and text messaging, the step
between call to action and action is much, much
Learning to live in a world of
rising horizontal inﬂuence
1. “Consumers” are not just consumers.
2. Shakespeare got it right: “The truth will out.”
Now, it gets out faster, and to everyone. So
always tell it.
3. Gladwell’s “mavens & connectors” are out there
and more important than ever. Get to know
4. The MSM will feed its nemesis. This can be all
good, or all bad for you.
5. Nothing replaces “face to face.”
6. Your products and services are an important
part of people’s lives. It’s OK to stimulate and
participate in the discussion.
7. But remember: your corporate behavior will also
be part of the conversation.