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Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message Hardcover – 1 Dec 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Kaplan Business (1 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419596063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419596063
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,332,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Much like the cyberculture events that Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba cherish, their book is fun, jazzy and almost habit-forming. They spin tale after tale of individuals and communities that are doing new and exciting things online, demonstrating just how much the emerging "social media" movement has changed the media landscape. Although fan sites devoted to particular cars or fictional universes are similar to older media phenomena such as fan magazines, spontaneously arising mass movements dedicated to saving discontinued soft drinks or spreading song parodies are unpredictable and unprecedented. The authors do a great job of sketching the outlines of the new movement. However, in part because the movement is still emerging, and in part because of their genuine enthusiasm for its activities, their analyses aren't as strong as their descriptions. This is especially true of their discussion of the forces driving social media, which are apparently all positive. With that caveat, we recommend this book to old-media communicators who want to understand the latest cyberculture developments and apply them to their own businesses.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great overview of how customers use social media to express themselves 17 Jan. 2007
By Mack Collier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One of the first things that struck me when I began reading Citizen Marketers, was the ability that Ben and Jackie (calling them McConnell and Huba just doesn't fit) have to take a concept as misunderstood as Social Media, and scale it down to where it is accessible to all, and to do so without talking down to the reader. In fact, the book does such a good job of giving background on the various forms of social media, that it can double as a general primer on the subject.

But where CM shines is in explaining what exactly Citizen Marketing is, who these people are, and what motivates them. I'll be honest, going into reading this book, I was a bit worried that this would simply be a collection of case studies providing examples of citizen marketing, bookended with an introduction and conclusion chapter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, Ben and Jackie have done exhaustive research into the subject of citizen marketing, and instead of simply rehashing examples such as the CGM buzz behind Snakes on a Plane, Jarvis' Dell Hell, or the liberation of Fiona Apple (quite possibly my favorite story in the book, which I'd never heard of previously), Ben and Jackie talked to all the parties involved, and discovered what they did, why they did it, and who they did it for.

Their conclusion was that they were dealing with, concerned citizens. Citizens whose love of their favorite brand compelled them to take action on its behalf. And thanks to the rise of the internet, and more specifically social media, those concerned citizens not only have the tools necessary to produce their own brand marketing, they have the ability to reach others, and mobilize them to share their cause. One person's blog post lamenting the cancellation of a favorite TV show can blossom into a full-fledged petition drive that saves the series. A bad customer service experience at a fast food restaurant can be recorded and uploaded to YouTube within minutes. Jarvis' post about his dissatisfaction over his Dell erupted into Dell Hell, which eventually forced the Austin-based computer maker to totally re-examine their customer-service, and revamp their policy on reading and responding to bloggers(IOW, creating a policy for reading and responding to bloggers).

But in my opinion, the heart of the book lies in Ben and Jackie's breakdown of Citizen Marketers into four distinct categories, which they have dubbed 'The Four Fs', all with their own motivations for their actions:

1. Filters

The Filters collect all manner of stories, blog posts, podcasts, etc. related to a specific topic, and present them in one place. These filters serve mainly as an aggregator for content in all forms related to a particular topic, but also add their own analysis and commentary on occasion.

2. Fanatics

The Fanatics are very similar to evangelists. They love(obsess?) over their favorite brand/product/person/company, and are committed to informing others about this topic. They are in the truest sense of the term 'Customer Evangelist'. But they also have great love for the brand/company/person, and aren't afraid to criticize any action that they feel is detrimental to its progress.

3. Facilitators

Facilitators are community creators/builders. They bring like-minded individuals together around a central framework, usually an only forum or blog. Ben and Jackie liken them to 'online mayors'.

4. Firecrackers

Firecrackers are the one-hit wonders of citizen marketers. They may create a hit sensation viral video, or a blogging meme, and then never be heard from again. As with their namesake, they burn very brightly and quickly, and burn out just as rapidly.

In conclusion, buy this book. It isn't a marketing book, it's a book about your community of customers. What motivates them, and what inspires them to take action, both on behalf of, and against your brand. A customer is shaken from their apathy toward a brand, and spurned to action either in response to a brand's indifference towards them, or as a result of the brand's reaching out and offering the hand of empowerment to them. Right now your brand likely sits on one side of this fence, and gaining a better understanding of your customers and what gives them the incentive to act, will help you understand how they view you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good lessons for Old School Marketers, and New School Marketers, of course. 23 Jan. 2008
By Rolando Peralta - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of these guys [Jackie Huba & Ben McConnel]. As most of you, I also met them with Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force, I even bought the Discussion Guide and follow their Blog everyday.
The fact is that this book covers really great experiences of lots of industries. One of my favorites is placed in the Record Industry, I thinkg that if they'd wrote the book these days, RadioHead would be a great case for the book.
More interesting lessons come every chapter, and more than a "Handbook", it's a Review one. And it will definetly be a classic record of our new marketing era.
So... Old School Marketing guys... this could be a book that shows you that Marketing is not the same, since several years ago.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Social Media Advertising Sales Manager 18 Jan. 2007
By M. Chassman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ben McConnell does a phenomenal job of providing an overview of the social media landscape (Chapter 4) as it exists today in it embryonic state. What he brings to life is the truth about the democratization of the media, now that the tools to be publisher, broadcaster, and creative director are in the hands of the citizens at large. This new reality requires anyone responsible for building and marketing brands to take note and read this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A great entry point into the conversation for marketers 15 Jan. 2007
By Chris Thilk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba provide plenty of examples of how people like you and me are changing the face of marketing in their new book "Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message." The book is cram-packed with stories of people who have created their own ads for a company simply on account of being a fan of a product. Or how enthusiasts have created online communities where they and people like them can trade stories and tips. Or how dis-satisfied customers have done irreparable damage to a corporate reputation by sharing with their online audience a bad experience they've had.

McConnell and Huba touch on a few key points. First, people are sometimes so moved by their love of a product or company that they are motivated to create their own pseudo-marketing content as a way to express that. Second, people are always seeking out a community of like-minded people and, if one does not already exist, they'll create their own. Third, customer service is no longer a closed loop between a company rep and the customer. Now bad customer service experiences wind up online for all the world to see. Fourth, a company that knows how powerful their community is can achieve great things, as long as it never forgets that community has the potential to crush them if they start making missteps.

To amplify those points and show just how important it is for companies to monitor what the community is saying about them, companies need to remember a few things:

1) Google never forgets and it is an impartial tool, remembering both the good and the bad.

2) The tools that allow people to broadcast their opinions and enthusiasm have never been more prevalent, cheaper or easier to use.

3) Google loves those prevalent, cheap and easy to use tools.

4) Every company needs to figure out how to engage the people using those tools.

By giving examples of enthusiastic self-publishers such as Mike at HackingNetflix, the guy who runs TiVoCommunity and the two Jakes who run Threadless, Ben and Jackie hammer home the fact that not only are non-marketing people now largely responsible for corporate communications but that these people are creating companies of their own based on a new idea. Mike doesn't know everything and so looks to the community to tip him off to things. The TiVoCommunity is based around the idea that people contributing to a hive-mind can help everyone enjoy their TiVos more. And Threadless lets members decide what shirts get made by running weekly contests. When was the last time you heard an old-fashioned marketing guy admit he didn't know the answer to something?

Ben and Jackie hammer home the point that, whatever the motivation, citizen marketers are a powerful and influential group so often and so well that, quite frankly, you'd have to read the book with a sort of willful ignorance to not be moved to some sort of action after reading it.

Just make sure it's the right sort of action. The book offers examples of companies that fully engage, only do so privately and then disavow that action publicly, offer grudging acknowledgment or ignore completely. It makes me shake my head when I read about the latter three. I don't get non-engagement. I just don't.

If you take the opportunity to read Citizen Marketers and really absorb the lessons Ben and Jackie have to offer I'm sure you'll shake your head at companies like that as well, even if yours has been one of them in the past. And if you want even more lessons on how to do this sort of thing right make sure you're reading their Church of the Customer blog on a regular basis.

The best thing I can say about Citizen Marketers is that it should be on every marketing practitioner's desk. That way, when a nervous boss asks why they should engage and embrace the consumer-generated-content being created they can offer this book up as evidence. It offers a counter-argument to just about any skepticism.

It should be noted that I participated, albeit in a small way, in the book. Ben and Jackie put out a request looking for people to read rough drafts of some of the book's chapters and offer suggestions and comments, a request I was more than happy to respond to. There were a dozen or more of us who did so, including fellow Viral Community member CK and others and we're all given shout-outs at the end of the book. That's a great idea they had and certainly goes a long way in showing just how much they believe their own preachings.

Thanks to Ben and Jackie for allowing me to participate in the shaping of the book and for providing a review copy for my perusal.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
For a better understanding of social media 15 Jan. 2007
By Mark Goren - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I flew through this book. Not because it was light reading, because it was so engaging. Ben and Jackie found a thorough way to explain what motivates people like you and me to function as micro-agencies that work on the behalf of - or against - brands.

And they really make their theories digestible. Consider how they name and explain The 1 Percenters, the 4Fs (Filters, Fanatics, Facilitators + Firecrackers), and the 3 Cs (working with citizen marketers through contests, co-creation and community building). They're all easy concepts to wrap your head around, presented with real life explanation-example-consequence examples.

What really spoke to me, though, came in Chapter 7: How to Democratize Your Business. This is where they introduce the 4 Cs. Thinking about my own clients, this chapter provides ideas and smart insights on how to engage consumers and get them talking. The examples they provide and the companies used to show how to do it right are real eye openers. Converse, Ban, Shakira, The Beastie Boys, Lego, Discovery, Microsoft, New Line Cinema, to name a few, have all embraced their fans, and either got them involved or embraced their existing involvement to great effect.

Here's the lesson I took from the book:

You can't sit back. People are working on your company's behalf as a hobby to promote, generate excitement and just talk about the aspects of your business that excite them or drive them nuts. Whatever the case, they're out there and you've got to embrace them. Listen to them. Hear what they're saying, good or bad, and make room for their thoughts and ideas in your organization.

As the tools to self-publish become easier to use and high-speed connections become more and more accessible, the numbers of everyday people out there sharing, connecting and promoting will rise exponentially.

Never mind being ready then. The time to get in with these powerful people is now. After all, they are your marketers.
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