First Reading Reflections for my Twitter Class

First Reading Reflections for my Twitter Class

What struck me first about the Cluetrain Manefesto was  the copyright date – 1999, 2001.  The Cluetrain Manefesto was certainly early.  Even before the advent of Web 2.0 platforms, the Cluetrain Manefesto was encouraging conversation between businesses and customers while deriding businesses for their short-sighted marketing practices.

The “Markets are Conversations” chapter reveals to me that these ideas aren’t quite as new as I think they are.  In general, I link ideas of markets having conversations to the time web 2.0 websites started becoming mainstream (around 2006).  However, it is clear these ideas aren’t driven by the web 2.0 websites we know today.  Clearly, online networks were strong in 1999, and certainly before that.  Since that time they’ve become much stronger, but that doesn’t mean the ideas behind them are new.

Businesses are still struggling to understand how to have conversations with their customers.  They are certainly getting better – particularly big businesses that can pay a lot of money for social media consultants.  Personally, however, I’ve found small businesses are struggling to catch up.  Many small businesses have been trained to market online like big business, but haven’t made the shift to conversations yet.  The unfortunate part of this is that small businesses can more easily have conversations with customers online because they can generally be more authentic when they engage in online conversations.

It will certainly be interesting to see how marketing continues to evolve.  Looking back at the Cluetrain Manefesto, it is clearly evolving slower than I would expect, but now that web 2.0 technologies have developed and become more mainstream, we may see the evolution accelerate.

As companies change the way they market, it will also be interesting to see how they use web 2.0 technologies to take advantage of the massive amount of wisdom that can be gained from the population as a whole.  Cass R. Sunstein discusses the power of large numbers of people in his book Infotopia.

The first chapter of Infotopia address the potential strength and weakness in having a large group of people make decisions.  By crowdsourcing decisions, we have the capibility of being more accurate than if we made a decision ourselves.  This is great for guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar, but how can it be applied to business?

The answer comes with open platforms that are slowly becoming the norm.  Many web 2.0 websites open up their API so third parties can link into their resources and integrate their service into another website or application.  Twitter applications, Facebook applications, and even Google Maps and Google Calendar all take advantage of APIs.  What we see from this is products far better than if the company themselves made it.  I really doubt Twitter would be as widespread if they hadn’t opened up their platform to the masses.  The product now is far better due to large group intellegence than it would be if it were developed my the company alone.

What this means is the divide between business and customer is closing.  Smart companies won’t close off their product, but will actually allow their customers help develop it first hand.  By letting go of control of certain aspects of their products, we will find products that are cheaper and create more value than ever before.

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