Understanding Social Media Marketing via the “Cluetrain”

By February 17, 2012 Social Media No Comments

The Cluetrain Manifesto has been my ‘red pill’ in understanding the successful utilisation of Social Media networks by today’s companies. No doubt Social Media has been a desirable avenue for big business marketers and creative types with the unrivalled ability to connect, engage and market to a massive (and exponentially growing) online community. This is where their target buyer is. The primary contributor to their revenue stream.

Unfortunately, there is a world of difference in undertaking creative Social Media campaigns and undertaking successful Social Media campaigns, with many train wrecks littering the Social Media landscape of 2011. The Cluetrain Manifesto presented 95 theses each implicitly communicating the same core principle- “brands are conversations“. Companies need to humanise their voice, develop a genuine voice to their consumer, empathise with the real issues of their consumer and not get trapped in their own brand utopia. The three which particularly resounded to my own online sensibilities are:

  • Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

  • Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

  • 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.

One of the more notable disasters of 2011 was the #QantasLuxury hashtag disaster .
The challenge posed to followers:
#QantasLuxury Twitter
With the prize of winning “a First Class gift pack feat. a luxury amenity kit and our famous QF PJs” the hashtag turned into a forum for disgruntled customers and stakeholders to vent their anger towards the operational and customer service issues which had plagued the airline having to ground its fleet in early November 2011.


The in-house Qantas Social Media team should have got on that Cluetrain.

My advice:
Use social media as an avenue to actively speak to your customer and respond to their praise and concerns with the same enthusiasm and approach. Be open, let them in on a secret, let social networks know first, let them know they are valuable, treasure their interest. Don’t speak down to them, speak with them.

A wise man once told me, Social Media is like babysitting the bastard child of marketing, PR and customer service. If you don’t look after it well, its parents aren’t going to be very happy. Don’t know about you guys, but I would be aiming for babysitter of the year.

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