I recently talked to Jaffe, and he told me he enjoyed my post on Walking with the Community I left here last year, but wasn't quite sure if he understood the point I was trying to make.
My point was, I think the idea of 'The consumer is in control, get out of the way!!!!' goes too far. The better solution is for companies to walk with their customers. By doing so, that gives us the ability to understand the path that the customer is taking, and then we have the ability to clear that path for the customer.
For example; YouTube users enjoy posting and viewing clips from their favorite shows on the popular video-sharing site. This is a big reason why users visit the site, and why it is so popular.
Still, users posting copyrighted clips on YouTube isn't popular with all media companies, and some continue to contact YouTube to have the clips removed. Others have pursued legal action against the users uploading these clips.
But users obviously aren't going to stop uploading and sharing copyrighted clips of popular shows, just as music fans didn't stop downloading music after Napster was shut down in 2001. CBS is smart enough to ACCEPT the path that their community has chosen, and is clearing a path for them. Instead of yanking clips from their shows and going after the users that post them, CBS first created a brand channel on YouTube, where it seeded clips of its popular shows, and then the network partnered with SlingBox to allow users to upload clips from CBS programming to YouTube! I talk about the CBS/Slingbox partnership on Episode 2 of Mind The Gap.
CBS accepted that YouTube users want the ability to more easily upload, view, and share clips from their shows, so they created a way for their community to more effectively engage in a behavior that they were already enjoying. They helped clear the path for their community to more easily upload, view, and share clips from their shows.
That's why I believe it's far more important for marketers to reach out to and embrace their communities, than it is to 'get out of the way'. When we walk with our community, then we can begin to accurately judge their chosen path, then our job becomes clearing that path, so that the community can get from Point A to their intended Point B as quickly and as effectively as possible.
And what about CBS? The network has seen spikes in viewership for shows that have popular clips uploaded on YouTube, and CBS finished as the most-watched network in last November's sweeps period.
Which is an example of another marketing idea I like; Satisfy your community's wants and needs directly, and they will satisfy your wants and needs indirectly.
The Viral Garden, Marketing
Denny wrote on this a bit back, too. Yup, I agree fully with this approach.
As is often the case, your argument is sound. We business persons do not want to give up control to consumers, that's neither fair to them nor us. We want to share, to have an open dialogue and to understand their wants, needs and desires. That has been marketing's goal forever; we just have some new tools to integrate into our mix.
I call it an open door invitation to share ideas; you call it taking a walk. Whatever we call it, it comes down to communications that include respect, dignity and listening, from both sides.
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