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Important Theses From Cluetrain Manifesto

28 June 2009

With Twitter in mind, I re-read the 95 theses proposed in the Cluetrain Manifesto. Though all of them are applicable, I believe the following six should be considered the “cost of entry” for brands on Twitter.

  • Markets are conversations. Brands need to engage in relevant conversations on Twitter; listening is not enough & neither is one-way communication. Reply, retweet, & repeat.
  • 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. Honestly, if you have grounded a plane on the runway for 10 hours, we’ve already heard it from our classmate’s brother. Why not be the first to tell us what’s going on. We’ll probably will be more understanding if we hear it from you first.
  • 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. We’re going to point our finger at you sometimes, so you may as well get in on the joke. We want to believe you are human.
  • Companies attempting to “position” themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about. If your brand’s position is clear, take us “following” you as an endorsement to your position. Stay true to it and we will engage with you because you are adding value to the market.
  • De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.You’re invited, but it’s our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel! Twitter isn’t a focus group, you can’t control the conversations we are having about you, but you’re invited to join us as an equal.
  • If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change. If we wanted to know the headline from your latest press release, we would have visited your website…but probably NOT. The truth is, we want to feel in the know & special, so fuel us with interesting content.
  • We know some people from your company. They’re pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you’re hiding? Can they come out and play? You are bound to have brand advocates within your walls, so empower them to share their passions/thoughts/concerns about your brand. It helps us to see the light. Just think about what Robert Scoble did for Microsoft.

Taken together, I believe brands would find it easier to stay off the blacklist if they simply talk to people in a relevant & compelling way that demonstrates that they’re listening.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. pritiu permalink
    28 June 2009 4:32 pm

    Here are my top five from the 95 Theses (from a consumer perspective):

    1. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors.
    – Twitter is allowing individuals to delve beneath advertising and marketing. Perception of products/services comes from the community, not from the corporation.

    2. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.
    – Twitter is changing the way we exchange information. Rather than scouring the internet for information, individuals are using Twitter to put out a call for information. If you want a new computer, you’re not going to scour a corporate website for the company line, you’ll ask your online community for their recommendations.

    3. 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.
    – This is one of the keys to Twitter’s power. Individuals want the truth and want to share their knowledge. You expect to get the “real” story on products and services from others. Individuals are also ready and willing to use Twitter to mobilize their respective communities around these issues.

    4. We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.
    – This one sentence sums up the power of non-traditional media. Consumers want a conversation — they want information that is meaningful. They are willing to listen if the message is presented in the right way. This is where Twitter offers the greatest opportunities for companies.

    5. 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.
    – This is an extension of #4. Bringing down the barriers between consumers and corporations provides an amazing opportunity for both parties. The perception of “them vs. us” can be banished by the use of communications tools like Twitter.

  2. coreyac permalink
    28 June 2009 10:34 pm

    A few comments about how some of the theses in the Cluetrain Manifesto relate to Twitter:

    28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company.
    – Companies have far less to worry about and can focus on consumer desires when they are able to connect directly to the public. Transparency goes a long way when it comes to things like product safety. Social issues such as who the company donates to is an area in which more transparency will not necessarily lead to more sales.

    44. Companies typically install intranets top-down to distribute HR policies and other corporate information that workers are doing their best to ignore.
    – A new government trend is to transmit the majority of unclassified information via 3rd party platforms such as moodle rather than intranets. Unfortunately they still are out-of-bounds to search bots. Even with technologies like twitter, only information that individuals deem necessary is divulged to the public.

    60. This is suicidal. Markets want to talk to companies.
    – Consumers are now getting their chance to talk directly to companies such as Comcast. The question is what will consumer say? Will they talk?

    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.
    – While some twitter posts are undoubtedly lacking in substance, the real-time information they present is much more powerful than brochures and web-sites. I would argue that it also rivals TV commercials in that when information is broadcast on a 2-way platform, others’ comments amplify the data.

    84. We know some people from your company. They’re pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you’re hiding? Can they come out and play?
    – I often find that when people blog or tweet about their own company they are honest and interact on a more personal level than traditional marketing via large media outlets. Unfortunately there will likely always be a digital divide and overwhelming confusion about the best tactics for advertising.

    95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
    – When linking to each other requires only a click of the mouse and information is in real-time, requiring customers to locate or wait for information has a negative effect.

  3. 29 June 2009 12:49 am

    5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice. What audience are we trying to reach and what do they sound like? What do we want to sound like?

    6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media. AND 19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance. Was thinking about this this weekend. The internet (now through social media) is allowing us to connect with people and groups we may have not been able to ten years ago. Email is one thing, but to carry out a conversation with someone you’ve exchanged DMs or @s with is something completely different. Filters and inhibitions are removed and and you’re one step closer to connecting with someone. Think about the candid feedback we anticipate receiving from our #uwtwtrbook tweets. This being the “last” chance is a little extreme, but it does communicate a sense of urgency, which orgs need to act on with some speed.

    23. Companies attempting to “position” themselves need to take a position. What is it we’re trying to say, and how do we say it without speaking too much in generalities to the point where we’re not really relevant? Sometimes we are afraid to take a stance for fear of backlash, but we could be saying, writing, thinking, blogging sentiments that others share but are also afraid to take.

    72. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change. Twitter 101 books have been done. Tips and tricks books have been done. “How Twitter or X, Y, Z is revolutionizing ______” has been done. What’s our angle? How do we get people to listen to something that has or hasn’t been said before? Are there new positions we can take on old(er) topics?

    95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting. . What are ways to encapsulate in our book, these observations and connections and partnerships individuals and organizations are already making? What can we offer that is relevant and meaningful? We’re on the right track with our collaborative approach!

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