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Influx book review- citizen marketers

December 1, 2006

Citizen Marketers is a new book by the well-regarded marketing bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba is an important addition to the holiday reading list of anyone remotely interested in getting to grips with Marketing 2.0.

For those caught up in the maelstrom of change, it’s a look back at what has just happened and for those unsure of the significance of blogs, podcasts and RSS feeds, it’s a great primer.

The book uses hundreds of examples to show the type and breadth of change that is happening, as citizens take on an increasing role in marketing.

These examples are wide-ranging, interesting and take us from the early days with George Masters and his home created Apple commercial, right to the present with the recent exploits of Lonelygirl15.

Other examples include;

The Free Fiona Campaign Fans rise up to get Sony to release Fiona Apple’s album that goes on to sell 500k units. and Jim Romensko’s StarbucksGossip – A blog that’s now become a sounding board for brand fans and company exmployees

The highlight of the book is an interesting segmentation of Citizen Marketers:

Filters:They suck up all the news and rumor, centralize it and bring people together around it.

Fanatics: Have a passion: and galvanize widespread support around it this passion can be directed around a brand or an artist.

Facilitators: Create bulletin boards and forums that enable community. MINI2 is mentioned here with its community of 20,000 loyal MINI fans having hundreds of daily conversations about all aspects of the car

Firecrackers:The one hit wonders who manage to create a storm or positive noise about a single thing that they do; a recorded call to the AOL customer service center that goes wrong or a mash-up of an advertising jingle.

The book does a good job at explaining triggers and transformers of change, highlighting the rise of Tivo, YouTube, Digg, blogs and the other catalysts that have given rise to the Citizen Marketers phenomenon.

Citizen Marketers is a good guide and a record of recent history. Its weakness lies in its inability to deliver any clear ideas for how brands should respond to this trend.

We are also missing answers to the contentious questions.

Will we all become Citizen Marketers?
Do the 1 percenters eventually revolt?
Will people tire of always being asked by brands to contribute because they feel that they aren’t being heard?

It doesn’t deal with the potential fad of Citizen Marketing, when is it genuine and when is it just a gimmick? Is it all going to reach a pinnacle in the Superbowl of 2007, after which marketers lose interest and move onto the next shiny new thing?

One is left with one big aching question at the end of this book. What does Citizen Marketing mean for the future of the relationship between the producer and the consumer, when the business world places a clear dividing line between the two?

Overall it’s a good view of the rise of Citizen Marketers, but it doesn’t tell us where they are heading.

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