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Citizen Marketers

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Citizen Marketers

When People Are the Message

Kaplan Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Learn to use social media and your customers will do your marketing work for you

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


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, getAbstract recommends this book to old-media communicators who want to understand the latest cyberculture developments and apply them to their own businesses.


Send in the Amateurs

In 2004, George Masters made a minute-long, animated film featuring an iPod. Though the film’s creative graphics and unified appearance made it look like an advertisement, Masters wasn’t an Apple employee. He was a fan who made the film for fun and posted it on his personal Web site. Then, his little film went viral. Bloggers mentioned it, magazines did articles on it and more than half a million people watched it within a month. Around the same time, journalist Jeff Jarvis blogged about “Dell Hell,” maintaining that Dell’s service was as bad as its computers. So many people agreed with him that the movement eventually forced Dell to reinvest in customer service. And, through posts on a Web site, fans of the singer Fiona Apple forced their idol’s previously unresponsive record label to rerecord an album with which she was unhappy.

These stories demonstrate the leverage some citizen marketers have attained. Their skills are not for hire. Viewers want to see their creations because they’re fun and sincere, and they spread the word. No public relations experts are involved. Citizen marketers are changing the relationship between individuals, corporations...

About the Authors

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba are writers, speakers, business advisers and co-authors of Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force.

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