Citizen Marketers | Jackie Huba

Summary of: Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message
By: Jackie Huba


Dive into the world of citizen marketers with ‘Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message’ by Jackie Huba. As you embark on this exciting journey, discover how everyday individuals are transforming the world of marketing and advertising. Understand the power of filters, fanatics, facilitators, and firecrackers in shaping public opinion, and learn how they drive change and influence corporate decisions. Witness the democratization of media, the rise of hobbies and online communities, and how businesses can adapt to and benefit from these emerging trends. Get ready to explore the future of marketing and the unstoppable force of citizen marketers.

The Power of Citizen Marketing

In 2004, George Masters made a minute-long, animated film featuring an iPod that went viral. His success, along with others like Jeff Jarvis and Fiona Apple’s fans, highlights the power of citizen marketers. These individuals focus on creating engaging content that spreads through word-of-mouth rather than relying on public relations experts. By doing this, they are transforming the relationship between individuals, corporations, and the market. Their success shows that viewers want to see fun and sincere content that is not just another advertisement. In essence, citizen marketers are changing how businesses approach marketing and highlighting the potential of a new kind of marketing that puts the audience first.

Citizen Marketers

Citizen marketers come in four varieties: filters, fanatics, facilitators, and firecrackers. Filters sift through all sorts of media to find information on their topics, while fanatics are the “true believers and evangelists” who praise and attack their subjects. Facilitators build communities by starting or mediating discussion boards, and firecrackers burst onto the scene and then disappear.

For example, noteworthy filters include Mike Kaltschnee, whose website collects references to a US movie rental company as though it were a news channel with just one story, and Jim Romenesko, who started his blog about Starbucks as a hobby that soon turned into a forum for frustrated employees. Meanwhile, fanatics have sites that focus on McDonald’s and Barq’s root beer. They try to change the world by persuading, for instance, HBO not to cancel its series “Deadwood.” Facilitators work with companies to create communities, while firecrackers come up with viral content and then vanish.

Citizen marketers have accumulated a considerable audience online, and their numbers continue to grow. Nonetheless, their impact on traditional marketers remains unclear. Nevertheless, there is no denying the fast-growing movement of citizen marketers and the relevance they have in today’s society.

The One-Percent Rule

In the book “Hell’s Angels” by Hunter S. Thompson, the biker gang was referred to as “the one percent that don’t fit and don’t care.” This term has been adapted to describe a phenomenon in social media. Roughly 1% of visitors to online communities contribute content while the rest remain lurkers. This holds true for websites like Wikipedia, Yahoo Groups, QuickBooks discussion boards and TiVo. This is consistent with statistical power laws that show the uneven distribution of power. If you expect 100% or even 50% activity from members in a community, you’ll be disappointed. While the question of whether to pay these one-percenters arises, it’s not a solution as it undermines their incentives and distorts the community. Instead, they should be offered ownership in the community, making them partners and not employees. The one-percent rule multiplies the power of one and is the way of the online community.

Democratizing Access to Information

In “The Tipping Point,” the authors use the examples of and Yahoo to illustrate the conflict between centralized control and democratic forces. While Time Warner poured millions into creating in an attempt to establish the world’s best website, Yahoo, a simple design created by students, provided easy and democratic access. The ongoing conflict between centralized control and democratization is also evident in community-driven markets such as sports, where fans feel a sense of ownership and expect communication from owners in response to their concerns. The authors argue that online communities operate with the same dynamics as real-world communities.

The Rise of Techno-Artistic Mashups

The world is witnessing a surge in hybrid combinations of various data sources, also known as “mashups”. From utilizing crime location maps in Chicago to creating new dialogues for existing film clips, this creative phenomenon is becoming more accessible with the decreasing prices of digital cameras and software. Anyone can take advantage of modern media to create their own content. Citizen marketers are leading the charge, leveraging their roles as publishers, distributors, and syndicators to challenge traditional media structures and foster greater collaboration. This shift towards interactive media is a revolution comparable to the introduction of the printing press but occurring at a much faster pace. The number of blogs is doubling every six months, and podcast subscriptions have started to replace traditional radio broadcasts. Various online communities, such as MySpace, have also emerged and offer a more personalized experience. New media’s success is down to its responsiveness to its users’ needs, user-friendly interface, flexibility, and ability to communicate data transparently.

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