Did Marketers Ever Have Control?

Thinking about my Snapfish posts and the whole debate going on about whether or not we as marketers or communications people should be comfortable with using social media for business because taking that leap requires giving up a large portion of control to your consumers or the general public.

Name-dropping in history

Sticking just to music, bands that existed before or just when the internet came into existence did name-drop brands. From LFO (Abercrombie & Fitch), Barenaked Ladies (Snickers), Run DMC (Adidas) and recently, Melee (JetBlue). (Here’s a good list of brand names appearing in songs)

Though product placement is gaining popularity now, it certainly wasn’t in the early ’90s, though Abercrombie & Fitch enjoyed some market growth and Run DMC was eventually approached to be Adidas’s spokesperson.

Prior to the internet, unless you were one of those bands or maybe Oprah, what you thought about a brand would not grow larger than conversation at the bar.

What’s Changed: The Ants Have Megaphones

Borrowing the phrase from Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail (brilliant book), the ants have megaphones. The democratisation of media means that anyone can be a critic, a brand advocate, or a “journalist”. Because of that, your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what Google says it is. Given the long tail of bloggers, reviews, youtube videos and the like, a search for your brand could turn up negative reference (Dell Hell anyone?)

I don’t think marketers ever had control. But now they have to sit up and deal with the fact that many “ants” collectively can affect a brand (for better or worse), and we’re not as easy to deal with compared to offering a spokesperson contract to Run DMC. We want honest and open company dealings and we will take companies to task for failing to do so.

In short: our conversations are not restricted to bar talk anymore, and it would be folly for a company to ignore it.

Positive or negative brand experiences with social media? Let’s hear it! (Don’t worry, I don’t think you’re ants!)

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