THE SOCIAL CMO Blog
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This is a very thoughtful article all the way to the last part, then it turns horribly wrong..
In the last few paragraphs it strikes me as if there is no respect whatsoever for “the masses”, since in your eyes they seem to be clueless people looking to leaders to show them the way..
May I remind you that we’re talking people. In my humble opinion it is a marketers job to understand people and what they are trying to do. This is what you need to really understand how you can build products or services to help them get their jobs done..
A marketer who sees the masses as clueless, uncoordinated and chaotic followers, clearly hasn’t understood social and isn’t worthy of the label “Social CMO” ..
This is a very interesting post. I am rooting for the red trunks guy, Malcolm Gladwell. Why?
Because he focuses on a targeted message to a vertical market. I’ve been in direct marketing ny long career, written lots of books, speak on the subject…and I know it gets results.
I also agree with Gladwell(from my personal experience) that speaking at the podium will enhance my luck and my business many times more than all my social media following.
So red trunks will win in my book. Maybe blue trunks can be a rockstar or a flash in the pan. We’ll see.
Thanks for the critical feedback and I appreciate your stance. I would like to respond and clarify to a couple points you make.
First, I have tremendous respect for the masses. Properly motivated they are one of the most powerful forces of positive and negative change we can imagine.
Next is the context of my statement where I speak only to influence where people don’t understand voice and influence, let alone how to use it.
As for my remarks “Clueless, uncoordinated and chaotic”… well, let’s just say there is a lot to draw on from history that teaches us these lessons. Look at the chaos of the LA riots, the immediate lawless aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or numerous other examples of history where a lack of powerful, decisive leadership created chaos. I also believe that we are not above the laws of nature; capable of immense evil as quickly as we are capable of immense good. Whether we do this or not as the masses depends on a couple factors – leadership, morality, and laws. Without those 3 things what do we have? Leaders can come from anywhere and indeed the masses have leaders, but leaders with myopic vision.
As for me not being worthy… I’d say I have a pretty firm grasp on the whole of human nature, not just the positive. I’m still learning of course, and thus it will ever be, but I do know that humanity is not all bubbles, chipmunks and sunshine.
But I appreciate your judgment of me regardless.
Cheers and thanks for the debate!
Jeff – Sensei
I tend to lean towards Gladwell as well, although I am fascinated by the potential of Watt’s theories. What I disagree with in Watt’s argument is that super influencers don’t exist observed by his perspective on Gladwell’s Hush Puppies example.
So i tend to agree that Gladwell will triumph if simply because Watts denies (or tries to marginalize) the existence of super influencers.
Thanks for the comment and I am humbled to have such a prestigious reader!
Interesting post Jeff! and a nice challenging thought at the end 😛
I somewhat agree with you on the masses, wrote a few posts on that myself as I’m highly interested in the (very large) grey area between blindly following someone else and thinking for yourself all the way
The title (It’s all a matter of PEERception) will probably appeal to you: http://www.martijnlinssen.com/2010/02/its-all-matter-of-peerception.html
It also points back at my On The Acquisition Of Knowledge 1/2 where I start at knowledge or even information being available to only a very few – now that each and every one of us who has a PC and a browser can get unbiased information on almost everything, I have to agree with your “There will always be leaders and followers; it is in our DNA”
However, I think that it is easier for ordinary people to gain influence nowadays compared to 100 years ago. And yes, of course, as averages are averages, not everyone will stick out as a fly on the wall
But, you should be a lot more optimistic I think: reaching out to the world is now possible for every one – and I think that it is exactly that which will rock your middle-class theory. I do firmly believe that authenticity and originality will appeal to people more and more
Just a simple question to you to prove that: what do you do when it’s commercial time on TV?
It’s time for Change, and Change has come to our doors. And it will not go away
Thx for the reply.. I respect you for it, as I do your opinion..
I think it’s all a matter of perspective. I believe the vast majority of the people who’s lives have been ruined by Katrina we’re not involved in riots.
Yes, humanity is not all bubbles and sunshine, but most of the outcries we’ve seen on both of the examples you mention are, imho of course, caused by a lack of leadership (and maybe morality?) by the people who do understand voice and influence and how to use it…
The real issue, imho, is that these kind of outcries get a chance to evolve in somekind of “mass”-hysteria because a complete absence of empowerment with the people involved. And if one ‘goes bad”, more will follow soon, because behavior spreads (good and bad behavior that is).
Of course some will abuse the situation, no argument there, but it’s the lack of being empowered to improve the situation for oneself, that ultimately results in behavior we rather not see.
If we try project this on marketing, I think we can see a clear analogy: if you don’t listen to your Customers and if you don’t empower your Customers to create value with your product, the masses will just walk away (and seek an alternative). Some (a minority still) will do whatever they can to be heard. And now they have the means at hand to mobilize not only their friends, but their friends’ friends and .. you know this drill..
Of course there will be leaders, yet in the age of the social customer, it will be the leaders that listen to their Customers and the leaders that empower their Customers to create superior value for them, not (just) themselves, who will be the influential ones, because they will mobilize “the masses” to do business with them, not the other kind.
Isn’t that the kind of influence we all want?
All the best.
Why would anyone want to control the masses?
Oh yeah I know, money, money and more of it… yuk so industrial age.
Why not empower the masses who hold the value, if you don’t believe me look at all the educated middle creating crowdsourcing initiatives, co-creators unleashing value adding initiatives..
Perhaps just look at the world at large and how at peace we are coming…
Why, because when you push and keep pushing you keep people in the defensive, as your statement tried to do, but if you pull you allow and forgo any defensiveness..
In the trenches that we call twitter, the masses are educating themselves, I follow no super influencers, and only if I do listen it’s because a “nobody” suggested it that I have respect for, someone who is in the trenches with me, listening, engaging, sharing and caring… that’s what raises consciousness, that’s what brings peace..
Do you know who Graham Hill is?
He’s a middle educator empowering the masses and educating the elite on how to drive better value from going from a push marketer to a pull marketer by finding out what jobs customers are trying to do
Do you know Wim Rampen or Mitch Lieberman or Venessa Miemis and a large pool of people that like them are not super influencers, but hard working people sharing day in and day out their thoughts and messages on twitter who get down to work and the real work is not in some super influencer but the small nobodies who dismiss your statement.
Your statement only adds fuel to these people’s burning desire to see that ten years from now your statement won’t even be one worth mentioning…
Because of the nature of this post and the variety of spots i can pick to discuss i think i will concentrate on this statement…
“My opinion is that the vast majority of people are so clueless as to what to do with a voice, let alone understanding influence, that the masses will stay the masses; chaotic and uncoordinated followers looking to leaders to show them the way. The X factor will always be the educated middle- capable of empowering the elite and controlling the masses.”
Does this statement not disturb you?
Does it not kill all hope?
Is this an influential statement?
Is this an empowered statement?
Or is it one of ignorance?
I’m not debating anything you’ve written here, in most cases I agree with your perspective and I even agree with this statement.
However, instead of taking the journey you have with this post and ended it with such negativity perhaps what should have followed is questions such as..
How do we empower the mass of clueless people to begin by influencing themselves?
How do we get the educated middle capable of empowering the masses and controlling the elite?
Have you asked yourself why they are clueless on what to do with a voice?
I recall a super influencer of his time called Jesus who said some pretty influential things, he knew like you do that sheep do exist, he influenced them, empowered them and was straight up with them.
“I was blind but now I see” these sheep are not clueless they are blind and that’s because of the x factor who as you said, “empower the elite and control the masses”
Push, push and push harder they did keeping the masses blind and put all their faith into the elite who fed the system with manipulation and pushed this onto the masses.
However, a time has come where the masses are not blind anymore, their influence is not in the elite yet they empower the masses so that they can influence themselves.
The masses are pushing back, they have a voice that may not be as loud as Malcolm, but their whispers together are just as loud.
Above I had mentioned these two questions,
For the sake of keeping it narrow, there are people out there that realize clueless’ness’ does exist, but they go beyond the formality that has become a burden and done something about it, teaching others to find purpose, find human capital and share that with the notion of a collective intelligence.
I am a middle educator the one in the masses day in and day out sharing information small bits of information that tell a story each tweet my thought and sharing others thoughts as well, because I believe in empowering the masses and controlling the elite the elite who would kindly like to keep your statement true.
“if we change the way we look at things the things we look at change”
Perhaps look at the clueless as potential with hope for a better world.
Look at how chaning this statement to a question shifts the energy from one of negativity to positive potential…
“educated middle- capable of empowering the elite and controlling the masses.”
“educated middle capable of empowering the masses and controlling the elite”
Doesn’t my statement sound a lot better? More positive and perhaps modern.
Why would anyone want to control the elite?
Do you know who Graham Hill is?
He’s a middle educator empowering the masses and educating the elite on how to drive better value from going from a push marketer to a pull marketer.
Do you know Wim Rampen or Mitch Lieberman or Venessa Miemis and a large group of people that are not super influencers, but hard working people sharing day in and day out their thoughts and messages on twitter… get down to work and the real work is not in some super influencer but the small nobodies who are using nature, to make the clueless finally have a clue…
Ah, you did a much better job than I did last week when I tried to convey what you so adeptly labeled, “situational influence.” I was trying to convey the idea that influence lists might only be such because of your personal social sphere, your exposure, your current situation.
My post did not come out as eloquently as yours and I believe I made an enemy or two because of it – so I was extra happy to see the debate brought up here.
I see Wim’s comments about lack of respect for the masses and yet I have to agree on some level that most people do not know what to do with their voice. It’s the same reason I believe social media is not killing marketing or PR. People have always had a voice and an opinion. There’s always been a Better Business Bureau. Just because it’s easier now to share their opinion or complaints or happiness doesn’t make them influential.
There are those who know how to use their voice and do so intelligently. Take, for example, the first case study in the new book Empowered, about @Dooce (blogger Heather Armstrong) and her Maytag situation. That’s a woman who knows how to use her voice.
Guy Kawasaki knows how to use his voice.
So does Jason Calacanis (who infamously blogged about getting better PR by doing it yourself, like he did: http://bit.ly/dpOrai).
And many others who are pretty consistently influential…. but I say they’re influential because they know how to use their voice – and that’s why they are Super Influencers online. They are the people that know what to do with their voice all (or most) of the time. For the masses, I think “situational influence” is most accurate – situations arise where an individual (like your example of the fire fighter) or the masses rise as a group to super influence (take the Motrin Moms crisis) – often only for a moment. Most of the time, each situation will define who the people are going to listen to at any given moment. But super influencers are listened to and followed from situation to situation, consistently.
From a marketing perspective, I say both matter. The super influencers are easy to spot. It’s the situational influencers – the masses, if you will – that marketers struggle with.
Thanks for the thought-provoking commentary.
Sorry for the late reply but i did want to get back to you. First, thanks for reading and commenting. You bring up an interesting point on peerception and I have always believed that brand (personal and business) is perception. Of course the power of the masses to influence brands via “peerception” now is huge and unpredictable, just look at what a couple people on Twitter did to the movie Bruno; dead before it really had a chance to live or die on its own merits.
How we affect each other is huge; now greatly amplified by social media. But what I really question is: Do normal every day people actually care much beyond their own little worlds? Its a question i alone could not come close to answering which is why I put forward my own belief on the masses to catalyze a conversation.
As for what I do when a commercial comes on…. I don’t actually watch television and when i do watch a show, its commercial free (long live PVR).
While i don’t want to under estimate the power of the mob, I certainly don’t want to over estimate it either.
Thanks and I agree for the most part. I think I have a more pragmatic view of the masses than negative or positive. I believe the way we react, either as individuals or as a group, almost always has to do with Situational Influence, which is then tempered by emotional and logical influence. The Situation, whatever it may be, from surviving the chaotic aftermath of Katrina to eating in a restaurant, influences our perceptions/beliefs/behavior to affect (or influence) everyone else we touch.
Again, I think we are looking at a small portion of the masses that finds motivation from a situation that arises. This catalyst creates a “leader” that rises in influence for a brief, sometimes prolonged period of time depending on their passion, the passion of their followers, and the strength of the idea they are upholding. What I didn’t do into in my article because their just isn’t enough time, is go into “hierarchy of leadership” as a layer of influence in the masses, middle class and elite.
I am a student of natural law through and through. I think the danger to companies now is trying to be something theyare not. The majority of companies are not inherently social. In fact many, like the entire telco industry, are the exact opposite. I don’t think customer expectations on companies are too terribly high either, so the demand for companies to be social from customers is actually much different from what marketers perceive it to be.
Should we strive to be positive and expect more from the social customer than before? Absolutely. Companies need to evolve and the relationship between customers and companies is going through a shift in power – finally. But, even though the masses now have this powerful tool at their disposal, I don’t know that they will use ever use it or use it well enough to make a difference.
Thanks for a great debate and I respect your opinions.
Thanks for the interesting comment and happy I could influence such a passionate response
Personally, I don’t have time anymore to be idealistic nor do my clients. We live in a world where a few greedy men wiped out trillions of dollars in assets and disrupted the world economy for years; putting tens of millions out of work. The chaos they created was immense. I’m not sure i see the same peace that you do… What did the masses do? They changed leadership in many governments sure, but after that? Not much right? They wait for the leaders to do something and struggle to put food on their tables – it really is every man/woman for themselves.
You are cherry picking small examples of people making a difference and I applaud them and you for doing it – please continue because these people do make a difference. But the masses? Sorry I just don’t agree with you. Most people are selfish, and in trying times, even more so.
Do you honestly want the masses empowered? Do you have any idea how chaotic that would be? Our society works because the masses are held in check by institutions and leaders, and possibly fear of punishment (both religious and societal).
Yes, I want people to have good lives – to be healthy and happy – to make smart decisions for them and their families. But I am under no illusions that everyone else wants that for me. I think you are really over estimating how many people actually care beyond their own selfish worlds.
I look forward to ten years from now and hope you are right. I’m glad I could provide motivation to those toiling to change it.
Cheers and thanks for the comments.
I am glad that I could help further the thinking on this subject. You bring up some great examples of situational influence and the big Xfactor I continue to grapple with; What situation motivates a person to become an influencer and how will they use their voice? The more and moreIi think about it and review research, the more I think its a personality type or characteristic in certain people that lies dormant and then “comes to life” under the right circumstances.
The big question is, can we as companies create a situation whereby we can tweak that dormant characteristic or amplify weak influence characteristics in our customers to a mutually positive social end? An end that leads to better customer relationships and better bottom line results.
I don’t know if you have read the book “Connected” yet, but i highly recommend it. It really brought me some new understanding on how we affect each other – mostly at an unconscious level. I’d love to speak with you further on this and maybe we can connect on Twitter @jeffthesensei
Thanks for the comment and I look forward to furthering the thinking with you and others!
Don’t be afraid of making enemies either. Those who benefit from the status quo will always oppose new thinking.
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