This, to me, is one of the most powerful examples of the Cluetrain. When we are considering buying something, taking a trip or going out most, if not all of us, take to the Net and search.
We still are mindful that there are no gatekeepers, but after a scant few minutes, we have decided whether the electronic item we are considering, the restaurant we want to take our spouse to or the car we want to drive is all it is cracked up to be.
Reading reviews, people’s opinions and what folks share about hotels and holiday venues shape our decision-making process.
With years of corporate culture and the rule of hierarchy and marketing as a damn verb, we have turned the tables. This new frontier is bold and it is fresh. We like to share our opinions. And we tend to share our negative opinions a lot more. An old saying is if I like something I tell someone about it. If I hate something I tell hundreds of people about it.
In days gone by we used to rely on the ads, the pitchmen, and the marketing bumpf. The corporations are still churning out happy-talk brochures, but a 5-minute session online with Google cuts through to the meat.
And you can control it – not by, as some CEOs have been heard saying – “We have to get these negative comments removed!” But by answering the comments and taking positive action.
The Cluetrain sums this up …
The something special is what the Manifesto calls voice.
Imagine for a moment: millions of people sitting in their shuttered homes at night, bathed in that ghostly blue television aura. They’re passive, yeah, but more than that: they’re isolated from each other.
Now imagine another magic wire strung from house to house, hooking all these poor bastards up. They’re still watching the same old crap. Then, during the touching love scene, some joker lobs an off-color aside — and everybody hears it. Whoa! What was that? People are rolling on the floor laughing. And it begins to happen so often, it gets abbreviated: ROTFL. The audience is suddenly connected to itself.
What was once The Show, the hypnotic focus and tee-vee advertising carrier wave, becomes in the context of the Internet a sort of reverse new-media McGuffin — an excuse to get together rather than an excuse not to. Think of Joel and the ‘bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The point is not to watch the film, but to outdo each other making fun of it.
And for such radically realigned purposes, some bloated corporate Web site can serve as a target every bit as well as Godzilla, King of the Monsters. As the remake trailer put it: size does matter.
So here comes Joe Six-Pack onto AOL. What does he know about netliness? Nothing. Zilch. He has no cultural context whatsoever. But soon, very soon, what he hears is something he never heard in TV Land: people cracking up.
“That ain’t no laugh track neither,” Joe is thinking and goes looking for the source of this strange, new, rather seductive sound.