Friday, November 23, 2007

Cluetrain's 95 Theses Response

Not long after the Internet begins to go mainstream, the writers of the Cluetrain Manifesto post their 95 Theses in 1999 about how information and communication accessible to anyone with an internet connection will change the future of how people and companies interact. 8 years later, we can we still learn something by getting back to basics.

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

I think this is the crux of what web 2.0 should mean for PR and marketing professionals. No matter how you're trying to engage with customers, sounding like an actual person counts for a lot. Aren't blogs more interesting when the writer is easy to understand with a bit of humor and personality? In practice, it might be more advisable to have a group of employees blogging rather than a CEO - multiple, down-to-earth voices are going to be more interesting and provide more frequently-updated content.

As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

This is something I've learned particularly from this class - once you start particpating in discussions, reading blogs and listening to podcasts, it's hard to stop! Suddenly the Internet becomes more than Google and Facebook and it becomes a way to learn, stay on top of your industry and your interests and even get involved.

39. The community of discourse is the market.

This reflects the idea about how non-CEO company bloggers may be a better solution because they'll get updates posted more timely and frequently. I'd rather read a blog that's contributed to by multiple employees for this reason - unless your CEO is really good about posting in a reliable time-frame. What could be worse than a CEO blog only updated rarely and randomly? Most would say they shouldn't even bother.

40. As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside the company—and not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom lines.

Again, what a great resource employees can be- they are knowledgeable about their company and industry, and those who can write will come off more humane and real should they become bloggers or podcasters. Employees have ideas and recommendations, and they need to be tuned into.

64. We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

If I'm going to read a company blog, it should be a bit more substantial than posts of press releases. Let's talk about hot topics, innovations, events, etc. Ever seen an amazing website with sparse content? What's the point of dazzling me with your website if it isn't substantial? That's the key to the Cluetrain, I think: say something, and make it substantial.

We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

This one I don't know about. Advertising still fascinates us - especially when it's memorable, like being unique or really funny. How often have I gone into dorms and seen the student's favorite magazine ads, movie posters, etc used as decor? I don't think we're immune completely, but rather extremely tolerant to what's been done to death. For advertising to work, it's going to need to be innovative to grab our attention.

You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

Cluetrain in a nutshell. I'm not going to invest in some expensive product if I don't respect the company that made it. Dell is a good example of a company trying to turn their image around. Apple learned how to turn a new, greener leaf. They listened: the company is better for it and their customers made a difference using the internet as their vehicle for change.

1 comment:

Yuhong Bao said...

How about multiple employees blogging including the CEO? Sun Microsystems is a good example of this.