So consumers are taking over control of information and brands from revered institutions? I guess this is an anarchist’s dream. Although I would hardly call Groundswell the business world’s new manifesto du-jour, I think Groundswell brings to light the inevitable trend fostered by the changing face of ICT. Accenture, my former employer, was one of the largest “consumers” of HBS press business books. For whatever reason, they loved giving their employees the latest and most “buzz-worthy” texts swirling around in the consulting space. Hence, I was a little skeptical about Groundswell. “Another dumb coffee table business book that I can use as my coaster,” I lamented. Accenture has built its expertise in helping organizations better execute their enterprise, to improve their overall standing in the market. But I never really considered the things that Charlene Li mentioned.
Marketers tell us they define and manage their brand…Bull…Your brand is whatever your customers say it is. (Page 78)
Wow. That’s a pretty bold claim. I can’t imagine Ford being told what there brand is by my Facebook friends and me. Now, I don’t need to be convinced that there is something greater already brewing and rearranging the landscape of how we interact and express ourselves. But I never put it into the context of the free market –
With so many products trying to gets people’s attention, shouting at them isn’t nearly as effective as it used to be. (Page 102)
The key to succeeding in social networks is to help people spread your message and to measure results. (Page 106)
Markets are oversaturated. I never really though about what that meant until I stopped and looked around for a moment. I soon realized how bombarded I was with information from multiple sources every day – information from billboards, TV advertisers, school, signs, etc. The crowd is just too loud. I filter these results through the use of my peers. I trust my peers. I am similar to my peers. Hence, I indirectly abdicate some of my internal review to my peers. Social networking is the perfect conduit to go underneath the shouting arenas of traditional media and surprise me from the ground. I sort of envision myself in Times Square, befuddled by all of the flashy billboards and signs, while Bugs Bunny borrows through the ground beneath me and pops-up with the latest Amazon.com recommendation. I guess this is where the title “Groundswell” comes from?
But isn’t this all a bit insidious? I mean, going with this idea of how networks can spread information very effectively, are we really in more control over the advertisers if they instead manipulate the network, and no longer a demographic? If Groundswell properly evangelizes these trends – as I’m sure they already have – does this taint the purity of these social networks? One final quote allayed my concerns –
A community is a like a marriage; it requires constant adjustment to grow and become more rewarding. And if you’re not in it for the long haul, well, maybe you should think about the ugly endings you’ve seen to marriages that lacked the long-term effort. (Page 149)
I trust that communities of social networks are dynamic and evanescent enough to adapt and to respond to attempts to be manipulated.