The Clue Train 10 years on

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by: Karl Long

The cluetrain manifesto, a book
conceived 10 years ago, predicted and described many of the forces that
have been most disruptive to business enabled through “web 2.0″.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people
are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with
blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter–and
getting smarter faster than most companies.

The point “markets are conversations” was true then but the impact
of that statement has been realized very slowly by businesses over the
last 10 years. Amazingly the advice and insights in this book is still
extremely valid, although the tone is probably a bit strident at this
point, no one should need convincing as to the truths laid out in this

There was recently an even in New York to discuss the relevance of the cluetrain 10 years on which was liveblogged by Josh Bernoff at Forrester. At this conference Doc Searls
had a few words to say about advertising which I think are worth
noting, as I think companies and agencies are still addicted to an
increasingly infective and failing format/approach.

1. Advertising as we know it will die.

2. Herding people into walled gardens and guessing about what makes
them “social” will seem as absurd as it actually is. (Facebook is his

3. We will realize that the most important producers are what we used to call consumers. (Yup.)

4. The value chain will be replaced by the value constellation. (Many connections.)

5. “What’s your business model?” will no longer be asked of everything. (What’s the business model for your kids?)

6. We will make money by maximizing “because effects”. (“Because
effects” are what happen when you make more money because of something
than with it.) E.g. search and blogging.

8. We will be able to manage vendors at least as well as they manage
us. (Agreements between companies and customers shouldn’t be skewed in
favor of the companies.) At Harvard Law they call this VRM — vendor
relationship management — which is what Searls is working on

10. We’ll marry the live web to the value constellation. (The Live
Web isn’t just about stars. Relationships of anybody to anybody.)

Case in point advertising on social networks, take a read of this Business Week article on the effectiveness of advertising on social networks.

Marketers say as few as 4 in 10,000 people who see their ads on social networking sites click on them

Getting back to “markets are conversations” surely at it’s worst
advertising is fake, inauthentic, monologue, because companies are
scared to have a conversation, that’s the stuff people tune out? That’s
probably the bulk of advertising, but surely at it’s best advertising
can spark the conversation?

So what mechanisms does your advertising agency provide to help “continue the conversation”?

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