“Your customers are talking about you. They talk to their friends, their colleagues, your competitors, the press. Generally, except perhaps in the last case, what they say doesn’t make it into the public sphere.
But what happens when they start writing about you on their blogs? Do you know what they are saying? Are they your best advocate? Or, are they frustrated and, unable to find an effective communications channel into your organization, blogging their frustrations? Are they forming fan clubs? Or are they running yourcompanysucks.com?
Your customers can be your best friend and your worst enemy. They can spread word of your product, increasing sales. They can provide valuable input into future products.
They can also destroy your brand.
Let’s add a twist:
* Your employees are talking about you
* Your partners are talking about you
* Your suppliers are talking about you
* Your investors are talking about you
Once, these conversations took place at conferences, meetings, in bars and at the club.
Now, these conversations are increasingly taking place in cyberspace, particularly in that world now known as the blogosphere. And once they hit the blogosphere, they are linkable. Others searching for information about your company will easily find these sites. People who love you can quickly band together. So can people who are angry with you.
And you, the marketer, have absolutely no control over this process.
Welcome to the world of networked, distributed communication. Or, what some people call, “participatory communication.”
The old command/control infrastructure of marketing and communications is breaking down. Consumers are no longer passively soaking up your messages (if they ever were). They are actively pursuing conversations about you with others. Most would like to have conversations with you. Do you let them?
Marketers must enter these conversations. But you cannot do it using old techniques of polished “voice of god” style pitches. Rather, you have to break those habits and re-learn how to talk and write like a human being. The blogosphere has many pitfalls for the uninitiated.”