Social Media = Consumer Terrorism?

With the emergence of self-organising groups such as the Social Media Club, Planning for Good and even Interesting South, is it any wonder that the peak bodies that represent the media, advertising and digital services are feeling under pressure? Often these bodies only provide services and membership to corporations, not individuals — which does not take into account the sweeping changes in the nature of work in these areas. After all, with the vast array of easy-to-use tools, we can all now publish, broadcast and market to a worldwide audience. It seems anachronistic for these industry bodies to not recognise and adapt to the changes that characterise the industries they represent.

The Job can be dangerous!And while bloggers such as Laurel Papworth have taken a swipe at Australia’s AIMIA and Gordon Whitehead has questioned the value of the Australian Marketing Institute, it is clear that there is a disconnect between those who represent the industry, and those who make it up (see also the debate hosted by MarketingMag). But the situation here in Australia compares favourably with the state of play in Belgium.

Kris Hoet’s popular blog, ‘crossthebreeze, builds on the conversation surrounding the Belgian Direct Marketing group’s upcoming conference — Revenge of the I. Roughly translated (by Kris), the email announcing the conference states:

“During the congress we’ll deepdive into the current era of ‘consumer terrorism’ that is coming up with the rise of digital and social technologies such as blogs, social networks and email.”

As Kris points out, not only does this remind brands and companies to treat consumers with suspicion, it sets up an artificial divide between the "traditional" and "new media" camps. Branding and marketing is no longer something that is forced upon consumers (if it ever was). After all, it is easy enough to simply click away, delete the email or fast forward through the advertising. The POWER disparity between brands and consumers has been eroding for years — and it is time that all parties — brands, industry bodies, practitioners and even consumers (yes, yes invite them in) began to collaborate to find suitable solutions that deliver value all round.

Yes, it is time to join the conversation. It is already happening. You start by listening.

6 thoughts on “Social Media = Consumer Terrorism?

  1. Gavin, so correct.
    Its time brands learn how to hold a conversation and stop being a faceless corporation, scared of what people think of them.
    Good or bad conversations should be celebrate. It makes good business sense to know what you customers are thinking.
    At this point, I’d like to turn the volume…HELLO Australian Marketing Institute!

  2. If you have been used to starting conversations for the last 50 years and the general population is used to listening. You can understand that when the seats at the table change, you can understand why brands are as scared as hell to take the other seat, look at the crappy example they have set (interruption advertising) they have had the chance to created branded content however that is to hard, long term strategy.
    The funny thing is, when they sit down and actually start to listen to what we have to say, it is actually valuable and we have not used the same techniques to start conversations as they have.
    Welcome to the lazy susan table, where everyone gets there chance for a bit of the listening dish and starting conversation dish.
    Nice post gav, sorry for the brain dump hopefully it has added something though. eek

  3. Hmmm – can I number off the things I wanna point out? I can? Oh goody 🙂
    1. There are so many ‘industry’ organisations now, who knows who to listen to? Digital media this, cross media that.
    2. If it ever comes down to war between user generated content and agency generated content, who wins? And that is a real potential future… users don’t have much money, agencies do. We’ve all seen viral UGC ripped off by agencies…
    3. we need an unIndustry unOrganisation: wanna join? 🙂
    4. Companies are being removed from consumer discussion boards and refused to be allowed to enter into the discussion. It’s no longer a question of ‘should we be involved in social media’ but ‘will the consumer allow us to participate in discussions about our own products?’. I’ve seen it happen twice already.
    5. Forget the odd bad comment on a blog, think about AntiBrand communities – is one, the anti zero coke movement was another. hundreds of thousands of members ORGANISED to show how bad your product is. Think of the Parent Jury but truly vindictive. Anti ads, anti slogans, anti marketing campaigns.
    6. … it’s time for a glass of wine

  4. Great points, Gavin. I think it’s also important to highlight the responsibility of bloggers in return to offer constructive feedback.

  5. I must admit, Jye, I am not a fan of offering constructive criticism. There are plenty of consultants who can help brands and organisations find their way/learn the ropes. Much of it is common sense and courtesy.
    A good place to start is The Age of Conversation. Reading half a dozen chapters would be the best 30 minutes and the best $30 they ever spent.

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