I’ve just finished the introduction to the book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research. Yes I know, I should have read this long ago. But my list of books to read is long, and my time short, so I’m just getting to it now.
The introduction talked about many instances where an individual posted something that a company or brand didn’t like, the company or brand followed up with a request that these such instances be removed, resulting in what has been deemed the “Streisand Effect“, where instead of disappearing, the instance multiplies faster than anyone can keep up with it.
The introduction also talked about GM and Bob Lutz’s foray into blogging as a means of connecting directly with consumers. The book notes that as the blog built momentum, anyone searching for a GM related term would likely come up with the GM blog post relating to that term if one existed.
The likelihood of an individual producing something about a company or brand they like or don’t like is much higher in today’s online world than ever before. And if the brand isn’t the authority figure for their content, who is? Or who will appear to be?
After finishing the introduction, I came across an example. Songs and jingles from my past tend to appear in my thoughts as if from nowhere. Today I was humming the Juicy Fruit song… you know the one…
“Juicy Fruit… it’s gonna move ya… A touchy kinda rhythm… you’ll feel right through ya… Juicy Fruit… the taste the taste the taste is gonna mooooove ya!”
It’s a catchy tune. And, as I do with all catchy tunes, I went in search of the Juicy Fruit song on YouTube so it could be posted to my Facebook profile for all to enjoy.
The first result that came up was the following:
Ten year olds making a video about the way they think Juicy Fruit commercials should be. It’s not exactly brand slandering, but they beat out Juicy Fruit for the most relevant video. The video has gotten over 18,000 views. And guaranteed anyone searching for the Juicy Fruit song on YouTube will find it too. We can’t stop it, the online world is all about user generated content. It’s part of what makes sites like YouTube such a success.
Not too far down the page, I did find the Juicy Fruit song from a 1981 commercial:
But seeing the 10 year olds first gave me pause long enough to wonder how many companies out there aren’t being proactive in this space? By proactive, I mean joining in the conversation (in the medium by which the user is participating – via blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) before an event forces them to join the conversation (a la Motrin Moms). It’s the internet and people talk. You can’t just ignore the conversation, you can’t smother it, but you can join it. And so long as you’ve got a presence, the online world seems willing to listen (if you’re reasonable). But if you haven’t, they’ll listen to whoever’s talking about you and leave it at that. So what will it take? What out there is “gonna move ya” into this space instead of dragging you by the heels?