Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Yrs After Cluetrain: “Markets are Conversations” More than Ever

Tim Walsh (@TWalk) of Hoover’s had a great post today entitled “The community of discourse is the market” in which he excerpted these 5 maxims from the collection of 95 theses contained within The Cluetrain Manifesto—the now-considered classic doctrine of “New Marketing”:

36. Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures end.
37. If their cultures end before the community begins, they will have no market.
38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.
39. The community of discourse is the market.
40. Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.

It’s hard to believe that it is TEN YEARS AGO (to the month) since the original publication of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Revisiting it in April 2009—it has lived up to its revolutionary initial hype. In fact its prophetic conclusions still true (if not more so) today.

This excerpt could easily have been written in 2009 (vs. 2008):

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.
These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.”

You can now read the entire text of the Manifesto online.
See it at http://www.cluetrain.com/book/index.html

As The Cluetrain suggested: enabling a transparent exchange of information, opinion, fact (and fiction when appropriate) between companies and those who may be interested in their products and services is essential for better business and society.

Ten Years After Cluetrain: We now see initiatives and companies who’ve turned the maxims of the Manifesto into viable businesses.

Consider the example of these four innovators from the Boston-area:

1) HubSpot (http://www.hubspot.com/ ) whose "Inbound Marketing" software helps small businesses engage prospects and customers in mutually beneficial dialogue through blogs/social media.

2) Communispace (http://www.communispace.com/) -- pioneer of private online communities.

3) SocialPharmerBoston (http://barcamp.org/SocialPharmerBoston)--nascent organic community of interested people who are interested in building meaningful exchange through online social media to connect patients, healthcare pros, pharma companies.

4) MedCommons (http://www.medcommons.net/) In the same general area as SocialPharmerBoston, MedCommons creates ASP software that lets organizations share patient-centered electronic Personal Health Records with others in the healthcare ecosystem as appropriate (e.g. Adult children can be part of a Facebook family care group to be kept up to date on the condition/care of an aged parent).

These and other enlightened practitioners of our “age of engagement” are part of the current crop of enlightened voices participating in today’s online conversations. Ten years ago a long list of supporters signed their names to the original Manifesto.

Is it time to issue a reaffirmation of this “Declaration of Interdependence” to declare our ongoing commitment to the value of the original authors? Is it time for us to issue amendments to the Manifesto—taking into consideration the developments of the past decade and contemplate the challenges and possibilities to come?

What would we declare? Who will sign? I welcome your thoughts.


"Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses —
for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it..."

Herman Melville