(Scroll down to skip ahead to iPhone goodies if you'd like)
I write about the nature of influence from time to time (a list of a few of those posts here) and think about it quite a lot: as consumers we market to each other, all the time.
The constant innovation around content creation and distribution tools means that peer marketing communications are, along with every other type of communication, expanding rapidly. This isn't a new phenomenon, it's just something that's being accelerated by the technologies employed. Which is not to underestimate the impacts of that acceleration, but rather, to say that I dislike it when people frame this as something that is brand new and novel. It's not, get over it.
Which brings me to a few things I've wanted to share:
"Advertising's New Reality" - Aside from the unfortunate title, this is a pretty thoughtful piece about the fact that consumers are assisting in the creation of advertising and importantly, do so willingly because it fits with their interests and existing activities. I believe that thoughtful marketers have always understood that involving consumers in the process of creating, marketing and revising their products/services but now, more marketers are waking up to that fact. The really exciting thing is that it's getting easier to connect with consumers in order to accomplish this.
"Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog" - This lengthy but entertaining piece (like my blog posts right :)?) focuses on one innovative musician who's using peer communications and the new tools at his disposal to create and grow an audience (it's not easy though, it takes a ton of work). An example of the great stuff to discover in this article (bolding mine):
Coulton’s fans are also his promotion department, an army of thousands who proselytize for his work worldwide. More than 50 fans have created music videos using his music and posted them on YouTube; at a recent gig, half of the audience members (!!) I spoke to had originally come across his music via one of these fan-made videos.
"Critical Mass: Everyone listens to Walt Mossberg" - For those of you who don't read the Journal regularly, you might not be aware that Mossberg's considered to be one of the best consumer technology writers out there. This piece by Ken Auletta (an excellent writer in his own right, I really enjoyed Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way) talks about how influential Mossberg is: a mention in his column can boost sales, traffic and awareness. What's relevant here is that Mossberg writes for the consumers as a champion. The article relates that when Mossberg came up with the idea he stated that:
If it works as I envision it, this column . . . would be the voice, the champion, of the individual person actually faced with buying and using the core hi-tech devices—the customer whom industry calls the "end user".
Segway to a very hot discussion topic: the Apple iPhone.
Yep, I, along with every other blogger, must mention the iPhone. But I mention it as an extension of the article about Walt Mossberg. The video below is his video review of the iPhone (from the larger print review). The review is basically a ringing endorsement of the phone. For those who make it to the end of the video, they'll see the drawbacks of the AT&T exclusivity (certainly limiting) and the EDGE network (very slow for data), but most people won't need to get that far to buy in.
This video and review will sell a LOT of iPhones, mark my words. As someone who has successfully achieved his goal (quoted above) of being the voice of the "end user", Mossberg has gained an amazing amount of influence. Although the hype around the phone is astronomical, there are still many taking the "wait and see" approach. Mossberg's review does something that no amount of corporate advertising can do: it convinces you that you don't need to wait and see.
Did it convince you?