Okay, so do you find Craig Newmark and the Hilton sisters hot or not?
This post is my contribution to the CluetrainPlus10 project, in which 95 bloggers are commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto by reflecting on the 95 theses of this seminal social media marketing work.
thesis #70. If you don’t impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. Don’t they understand this? If they did, they wouldn’t let you talk that way.
Corporations (for profit) are a pretty incredible form of human organization don’t you think? It seems to me that they were originally formed to enable groups of people to take actions together in ways that were previously not common. The corporate form let groups enter into contracts, own things and most importantly it enabled people to treat risk differently. Leverage. Scale. Risk is a big part of innovation. It is related to rewards. It is how we get ahead, isn’t it?
This form of organization has proven to be very effective at creating wealth. It is responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any other approach. Even still, eventually we end up asking how is this wealth creating form of organization accountable to the rest of us?
The call for regulation is getting attention these days. Does anyone think that any group of policy wonks is going to get in front of a mammoth like Google and many corporations like it that are way around the curve on investing in and understanding the power of data and networks? Regulation is important but don’t you think it addresses practices after giant shifts have occurred and there is a new status quo to code into the system? I think a more important and achievable check at the early stages of new practices is developing greater accountability to markets.
Being accountable to customers is one form of market accountability. But all boats rise in a flood. If a company is fortunate enough to be doing enough of the right things and it is connected to the context of an inexorable global trend they can grow like crazy and ignore their customers. Or they can completely disregard all of their potential customers and new streams of revenue and just hang onto the ones that come easily. Nice little business. Everybody is happy, except the folks at Tribune.
It could be worse, one could be totally free of direct responsibility for production of product or service and still able to live off of the spoils of corporately created wealth and the attention and power that access to capital affords (are they hot if they are not heiresses?).
In any event, some people at the top of Tribune, the banks and a lot of other major corporations lost the plot recently, but does anyone feel like these corporations are not accountable to the market? They seem to be getting hammered by the market the last time I checked.
Looking back over the last ten years and reflecting on thesis #70, we now have many examples that investors suffer when companies do not adjust to the network era. But do investors fully understand this and reflect it in their analysis of the future prospects of a company? I think the answer is no.
I think this is a big part of the problem at the heart of the #smfail thread that recently evolved out the of the Business of Community Networking conference in Boston and Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.
Howard Lindzon has part of the answer. He says, “it’s time for some Venture Capitalist’s and founders with balls to take some real chances and lead change.”
For whatever reasons, folks like Bill Gates and Clark/Andreesen and Jeff Bezos engaged with public markets, became poster children for embracing change for all of us, created a lot of wealth for a lot of people, scaled to the global challenge/opportunity and they changed what investors look for in a company in the process.
A Twitter, Facebook or Craigslist IPO would have similar effects IMHO.
But I don’t think that the real answer is “out there” with other people. It is not the responsibility of a few to provide leadership for the rest of us anymore.
Any so-called social media expert can help stop the Web 2.0 Swan Song.
1. Stop selling social media as a cheap alternative to television advertising. If something is better it is worth more. If a television campaign is worth $1-million then doing social media right is worth $1.2-million. Go after those deals and you will quickly find your self sitting across the table from senior executives, rather than junior managers. (Real quote within last month, from real director level employee in Canadian operations of a brand you know and trust: “We are not adopting social media, and if we were that decision would not be made here, it would have to come from a senior level executive in the US office.)
2. Stop waiting and advocating for some sort of “executive buy in”. Yes, leadership from the top will help, but it will be the little success stories or implementations that start small but spread memetically that draw in the senior execs as champions. Who is hosting corporate changecamp in NYC?
3. When you do get into the CEO suite, don’t propagate the “Giving Up Control” myth. Telling a middle-aged executive who has fought half of their life to get where they are that they need to give up control is quite the “conversation” killer. Worse – it is not the truth.
4. Let’s put an end to the arrogance of looking down on the way corporate types speak. Excessive PR is one thing but let’s recognize that if we want investors to understand the imperatives of the new economic model, we need to make the effort to convert our “conversation” into terms and language that they can act upon.
The shift to common perception shaped by broadband empowered social networks is accelerating and the dominant source of shared perceived value for the last 50 years, broadcast media, is in rapid decline.
Ultimately the ability to maintain margins is dependent on a shared perception of sustainable difference in value between price and costs. That means that brand value, around 50% of big company corporate valuation, is at risk of evaporating.
Broadband connectivity is set to triple every six months and it is the key driver. The broadband trend, along with mobile communications & GPS integration is eliminating the boundary between the virtual worlds & the so-called real world, establishing the link between broadband empowered people and stable future earnings.
Should the “conversation” go something like that?
Part of the problem is that a cross-disciplinary solution is required. It really takes collective input from a variety of experts to arrive at a satisfactory answer.
With a seed investor and a few precedent setting corporations we could all get involved in an open source approach to making the business case to investors in a meaningful way. Call me if you have $200K and want to get started. I will send you the proposal.
2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors. Simon Kendrick, Curiously Persistent, @curiouslyp
3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.Keith McArthur, Rogers Communications, keithmcarthur.ca @keithmcarthur
4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived. Shel Holtz, A Shel of my Former Self, @shel
5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice. Dave Fleet, Davefleet.com, @davefleet
7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. Chris Brogan, Chrisbrogan.com, @chrisbrogan
11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products. Andy Beal, Marketing Pilgram, @andybeal
12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone. Dan York, Disruptive Conversations, @danyork
14. Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman. C.C. Chapman, CC-Chapman.com, @CC_Chapman
15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court. Tom Ewing, Freaky Trigger, @tomewing
18. Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity. Ivan Croxford, The Fumoir, @croxy
19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance. Kyle McInnes, BlackBerryCool.com, @blackberrycool
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. Colin McKay | Canuckflack | @canuckflack
25. Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships. @sclapp, Sharon Clapp, librarywebhead
26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets. Heather Yaxley, greenbanana, @greenbanana Post: http://greenbanana.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/public-relations-does-not-relate-to-the-public-companies-are-deeply-afraid-of-their-markets/
28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company. Brenna Flynn, com.motion, @b2therenna, Post: http://www.causeacommotion.com/2009/04/cluetrainplus10-project-most-marketing.html
30. Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed. Kevin MacKenzie, mack-musings.blogspot.com. @mackenstuff
31. Networked markets can change suppliers overnight. Networked knowledge workers can change employers over lunch. Your own “downsizing initiatives” taught us to ask the question: “Loyalty? What’s that?” Blake Medulan, blakedot.blogspot.com @thebdot
32. Smart markets will find suppliers who speak their own language.@debworks http://debworks.blogspot.com/2009/04/cluetrain10-number-32.html
38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns. Mathew Ingram, http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2009/04/28/cluetrain-human-speech-human-concerns/ @mathewi
41. Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce. Maddie Grant
42. 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.
43. Such conversations are taking place today on corporate intranets. But only when the conditions are right.
45. Intranets naturally tend to route around boredom. The best are built bottom-up by engaged individuals cooperating to construct something far more valuable: an intranetworked corporate conversation.
46. A healthy intranet organizes workers in many meanings of the word. Its effect is more radical than the agenda of any union. Connie Crosby Intranet Apocalypso http://crosbygroup.ca/blog@conniecrosby
47. While this scares companies witless, they also depend heavily on open intranets to generate and share critical knowledge. They need to resist the urge to “improve” or control these networked conversations.
48. When corporate intranets are not constrained by fear and legalistic rules, the type of conversation they encourage sounds remarkably like the conversation of the networked marketplace.
49. Org charts worked in an older economy where plans could be fully understood from atop steep management pyramids and detailed work orders could be handed down from on high. Mark Federman What is the (Next) Message?
50. Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority. Michael Stephens, tametheweb.com, @mstephens7 http://tametheweb.com/2009/04/28/hyperlinked-libraries-org-charts-the-human-voice-ten-years-of-the-cluetrain-manifesto/
53. There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market. http://bit.ly/CluetrainWizard – “CluetrainPlus10 and The Wizard of Oz”, John V Willshire, @willsh
55. As policy, these notions are poisonous. As tools, they are broken. Command and control are met with hostility by intranetworked knowledge workers and generate distrust in internetworked markets.
56. These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognize each other’s voices.
59. However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online perceive companies as little more than quaint legal fictions that are actively preventing these conversations from intersecting. Andrew Goodman, Traffick.com & Page Zero Media, @andrew_goodman
61. Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is. Nancy White @nancywhite
63. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you. Ian Capstick, MeidaStyle.ca, @iancapstick
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. Aerin Guy @aeringuy
66. As markets, as workers, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by remote control. Why do we need faceless annual reports and third-hand market research studies to introduce us to each other? Tom Demers WordStream Blog @tomdemers
67. As markets, as workers, we wonder why you’re not listening. You seem to be speaking a different language. monica levy. http://www.monicaonmarketing.blogspot.com. @mjlevy
68. The inflated self-important jargon you sling around—in the press, at your conferences—what’s that got to do with us? San Antonio Byline Blog @clgoodman
69. Maybe you’re impressing your investors. Maybe you’re impressing Wall Street. You’re not impressing us. Tony Goodson www.tonygoodson.com @tgtips
70. If you don’t impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. Don’t they understand this? If they did, they wouldn’t let you talk that way. Michael Cayley www.socialcapitalvalueadd.com @memeticbrand Craig Newmark – Hilton sisters, Hot or Not? CluetrainPlus10
72. We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it. Joe Kraus, @jokrausdu, http://www.nuthingbut.net/2009/04/we-like-this-new-marketplace-much.html.
75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change. Duane Brown, Creative Traction, @duanebrown
77. You’re too busy “doing business” to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we’ll come back later. Maybe. Gina Lijoi, http://wordondigital.blogspot.com, @ginalijoi
80. Don’t worry, you can still make money. That is, as long as it’s not the only thing onyour mind. Beth Robinson, Inventing Elephants, @bethrobinson Response posted at http://www.inventingelephants.com/beyondmoney.html
82. Your product broke. Why? We’d like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We’d like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she’s not in? Michael O’Connor Clarke, Uninstalled, @michaelocc
85. When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. If you didn’t have such a tight rein on “your people” maybe they’d be among the people we’d turn to. Reid Givens @reidgivens reidgivens.com
86. When we’re not busy being your “target market,” many of us are your people. We’d rather be talking to friends online than watching the clock. That would get your name around better than your entire million dollar web site. But you tell us speaking to the market is Marketing’s job. Danny Brown, danny brown – social media pr and marketing for the conversation age – @dannybrown. Post now live: “We’re Your People Too”.
87. We’d like it if you got what’s going on here. That’d be real nice. But it would be a big mistake to think we’re holding our breath. Joe Buhler, buhlerworks, @jebworks Post live on Marketing on the Smart Web
88. We have better things to do than worry about whether you’ll change in time to get our business. Business is only a part of our lives. It seems to be all of yours. Think about it: who needs whom? Nick Gadsby @nickbjorn of Lawes Consulting READ MY ENTRY @ Dark London
89. We have real power and we know it. If you don’t quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that’s more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with. http://hessiej.wordpress.com/2009/04/28/cluetrainplus-10-thesis-89-we-have-real-power-and-we-know-it-if-you-dont-quite-see-the-light-some-other-outfit-will-come-along-thats-more-attentive-more-interesting-more-fun-to-play-with/, http://twitter.com/hessiej
90. Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than most trade shows, more entertaining than any TV sitcom, and certainly more true-to-life than the corporate web sites we’ve been seeing. David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio, @dberkowitz
91. Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future. Kurt Cagle, Metaphorical Web, @kurt_cagle
92. Companies are spending billions of dollars on Y2K. Why can’t they hear this market timebomb ticking? The stakes are even higher. Sally Falkow Proactive http://falkow.blogsite.com Now live http://falkow.blogsite.com/public/item/231350
93. We’re both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they’re really just an annoyance. We know they’re coming down. We’re going to work from both sides to take them down. Morten Blaabjerg, When The Garden Walls Come Crumbling Down – Kaplak Blog
94. To traditional corporations, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound confusing. But we are organizing faster than they are. We have better tools, more new ideas, no rules to slow us down. Robin Hastings – @webgoddess
95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting. Leigh Himel, http://leighhimel.blogspot.com/2009/04/cluetrainplus-10-thesis-95.html – @leighh