Reflections on Cluetrain, Ten Years Later
July 12, 2009
As anyone who knows me in real life is well aware, I recently reread The Cluetrain Manifesto, and having read the original when I was in high school ten years ago, I had the advantage of an interesting perspective. Not only did I get a bachelors and join the working world since then, I work in interactive marketing and often tend to be the person who helps companies board the Cluetrain. Here are my thoughts, jotted down as I read:
The relationship your customers have with your brand is more important than the relationship you have with your customers.
The feelings and emotions your brand evokes are just as important, if not more important than your actual product.
You can’t control the conversation, and it is stupid to even try. Instead of trying to hide, be transparent. Honesty and an authentic desire to enrich and benefit your consumers resonate far more than anything else.
People buy from people.
Instead of PR, do MR – Media relations. One solid partnership with a journalist or blogger is worth a hundred press releases.
The second you really, truly recognize that it is not about what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for your customers, it all becomes so much easier.
It is not what the website does, it is what the user does.
Your company/brand is boring. Your people are interesting.
Your customers are not grain and you can’t keep them in a silo. Give them the freedom to interact, share, remix, and make your content/brand their own and they will reward you.
Anything can be a social object when properly communicated and presented.
Linear thinking will kill you. Relationship thinking is where it’s at.
First, create something worth talking about. Then give your audience the tools to make it their own.
We are in the API era. Chances are someone has already built the technology you need; don’t reinvent the wheel.
The attention economy is dead. Welcome to the interaction economy.
Minimizing the pain doesn’t make it a kiss.
Once you’re formed a genuine relationship, you’re willing to take less and your customer is willing to give more (Moroccan carpet seller analogy – the more you get to know them and their family the more you want to give, and the more they get to know you and your life the more they want to give you a better deal, since they see you as fellow human and not just a wallet).
Agility and analysis are just as important as research and expertise.
It is damn easy to turn on your user’s BS detectors, and nearly impossible to turn them off. Build only authentic authority.
All the SEO in the world can’t help you if your content sucks (said it two years ago and got quoted by Doc Searls himself, and it holds even more true today). In fact, this should really be “all the SEO in the world can’t help you if your content, design, and/or usability suck.”
The web and therefore interactive marketing is fundamentally optimistic. Go the opposite route at your own peril.
Your customers are online, and they are talking. Full stop.
We’re all so used to the changes the web hath wrought that we don’t even realize it.
Ten years ago no one knew what blogs and SEO were except for the hardcore geeks.
Combining bleeding edge enthusiasm with thoughtful analysis will let you write your own ticket.
Traditional media makes the audience a passive witness to their own life. The internet enables people to be active.
Passion subverts hierarchy on the web.
Consumers shouldn’t respect corporations, corporations should respect people.
The ideas at the fringes are the most interesting.
Gandhi had it right – “first they ignore you (no one cares about that lone voice online), they laugh at you (what a silly idea! no one will use that), then they fight you (our customers are not online/don’t read blogs, don’t use social media, then you win (adoption/conversion).”
The lure of the web is human-on-human interaction.
Everyone is granted a unique voice and perspective at birth. It is up to the individual to take full advantage.
Every webpage you see has person/people behind it.
One-way communication is dead, and that is worthy of celebration. Two-way communication is ten times as effective.
The web has changed time from sequential to random in the sense that everything is searchable and accessible.
If your FAQ page doesn’t reflect actual customer questions, its existence is pointless.
Language isn’t camouflage, it is clarity.
If you are not funny, sexy, or useful then change your company/brand until you are.
Customers are not targets, they are friends and partners.
The future hasn’t even been invented yet.