We are indebted to Franklin D Roosevelt for the quotation ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ In fact, one of the reasons that people had not explored the unknown seas before the great explorers of the sixteenth century did so was the fear of this unknown. It was thought that there were chimeras lurking there. The same is true of genetically modified organisms in France today: fear dominates thought and action.
For brands, a new reality is making itself felt: the technology is there, it will expand, and it has already been adopted by the customers themselves. It must therefore be used, and made into a friend. It is understandable that brands fear technology: it profoundly changes all consumers’ habits, and above all gives them power.
Recall certain inescapable facts:
If during the first internet revolution there were only prophecies, Web 2.0 makes its mark because the internet works, is used everywhere and makes money. The characteristics of our world can be summed up in four words: on demand, interactive, collaborative.
For marketing, things have now come full circle. Marketing was born from the end of physical markets. The merchant and marketplace discussions between customers were replaced by self-service and television advertising. Now with the internet and 3G mobiles, other people’s opinions are accessible about everything. The brand no longer has the monopoly on communication. Wishing to control everything, it must now compound with consumer, or customer, power, the power to broadcast another truth: their own. It is the end of broken product promises. It is the end of unethical or non-citizen brands.
The internet and blogs have revived conversation with an unequalled power: rumour and word of mouth now have a weapon of mass diffusion. The conversations, however, are also the best way of getting to know each other better, and of appearing human. They are a way of bringing down the barricades of mutual ignorance. The image of Microsoft in the United States has changed a great deal since Robert Scoble, a Microsoft employee, created his blog in 2004, attracting the visits and participation of nearly 3,500,000 people.
Robert Scoble believed that Microsoft’s image was too far removed from what he experienced within the company: it was not the ogre, the demon that others described it to be. He was not a communications director, or a public relations or marketing manager. He did know how to create a community around his blog, a trust connection. Since then companies have come to understand the value of these spontaneous corporate ambassadors: they give the company a human face, and build a trust network with the community they create.
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