Get Real or Get Lost
I love this piece from Hugh. It perfectly sums up the state of the industry—and I think it provides an insight as to why blogs among other "social network" platforms are being embraced in mainstream fashion.
So let's start with the obvious. People are more informed and empowered than ever, and as a result they are gradually tuning out the traditional methods of marketing communications. But why have blogs become such an integral part of the evolving "open source" model?
Here's a way to look at this. Think about the job interview process. When we are on the job search, there are several sources that we get information from. The recruiter, HR, external resources and if we are lucky, we know someone who works for the company.
Which source of information would you most likely trust? If you said HR, you are probably lying. Most people would trust someone they know who works for the company for the "real scoop" on what it's like to work there.
It's not so different with blogs. Blogs are becoming the "insider" of our time. Not only a source of information, but of information exchange—combined with network-like behavior that creates community and fosters relationships.
It's difficult to "fake" a blog these days. When I did work for HP, we pleaded with them not to launch a "fake blog" which featured a made-up persona named "Ted". Ted apparently ran a "blog" about TVs and coincidentally had a writing style that sounded just like a marketer.
They did it anyway.
So what happened? The blogoshphere promptly flamed the site and it was taken down in a matter of weeks. But sadly, we probably won't see the last of this type of marketing effort.
Blogs are getting embraced because they are real (at least the good ones are). Often times, the authors of industry blogs are active practitioners themselves and blog out of passion for what they do. Blogs are gradually establishing credibility one post at a time. When I go to a meeting, its almost as common for someone to reference a blog source as it is a respectable resource such as Forrester.
On this note, blogs often times have a leg up. They are usually ahead of the curve on trends and often times very accurate. Not to mention blog networks point you to all sorts of great resources at no cost.
Point in case, when I'm looking for signs in the industry I will often "consult" the blogoshpere to see what the word on the street is. If I'm looking for inspiration in next generation marketing, I turn to Jaffe
Juice and Three Minds, for Experience Design--Putting People First, usernomics and boxes and arrows can't be beat. For social networking, there's the church of the customer blog and consumer generated media.
Get the picture? Just like the "inside employee/friend" example, I trust these resources for real talk and unfiltered perspective. And not only that, they talk back. What happens in the comments area of blogs is almost as interesting as the posts themselves. If someone says something interesting, you have instant access to their blog (if they have one) and so the network grows.
So what's next? I have no idea. But if we stay real, the social network we are a part of should continue to build momentum. Back to hugh—people are recognizing bullshit where and when they see it. The blog community has a fantastic opportunity (and obligation) to serve it up "straight" wherever and whenever we can. Blogs can model authenticity to our traditional marketing counterparts. If we
don't—it's just more "blah, blah, blah"...