Trends and Truisms FINAL DAY (day ten): The Consumer Is Not King, but Co-Creation and Collaboration Makes Us All Kings

So here we are at the final day of this experiment. I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed this and have gotten some great commentary. This project will most likely be documented in one of the industry trades and reprinted in PDF format for ease of consumption. All comments and blog posts referenced will be included. All of you that have not joined in, I welcome you to take a stab at this one. I am hoping to hear from Joseph Jaffe and Greg Verdino on this one in particular. I would also love for Jeremiah Owyang , Amanda Mooney, my friends at On Digital Media, For Immediate Release, Brad Berens and Scott Monty to join in on the one. In fact, I am hoping that everyone on my blogroll will contribute, as I want to make this document very useful for all of us.

I will probably format this whole project over the weekend, so there are still a few more days to join the conversation.

Most of us in marketing or sales have been plagued by the adage, “the consumer is king” for most of our lives. While the sentiment is a nice one (for consumers), and may be valid in certain instances, this way of thinking needs to be closely examined before it is blindly adopted.

If markets are in fact conversations, and effective conversations consist of two parties of near equal status, where is there room for a king?

As a consumer and a marketer, I never felt the need to be king. I have only felt the need to be heard and responded to in a way that signifies care.

My feeling is that once the empowered consumer gained the ability to create and distribute content to the masses, we all went UGC/CGC/CGM crazy. I am beginning to think the key word in the last sentence is “crazy”.

While I am a huge fan of independently produced content, I don’t feel that it represented the Holy Grail that some marketers made it out to be. I feel that marketer’s adoption of consumer produced content was largely based on fear; fear of the unknown and fear of becoming irrelevant.

It is my belief that 2008 will be a year when marketers regain some of their confidence. My hope is that marketers realize that effective marketing campaigns cannot be driven solely by consumers (at least not in all cases). My hope is that marketers begin to realize that collaboration will produce far greater results than any singular constituent could ever hope to produce.

People often ask me, “As a pragmatist and a realist, how do you so roundly justify your love of Second Life?”

The answer is simple; Second Life represented mass collaboration and community like I had never experienced before (at least in the world of media). Inhabitants of Second Life got together and made a world!

Sure, uninformed marketers entered Second Life, not understanding the culture and made asses of themselves (in certain instances), but I cannot completely blame them for that, as Second Life is pretty complex for some users. Still, the idea that people can collaborate and co-create on such a massive scale gave me hope that markers and consumers would one day be able to achieve the same type of thing.

I am hoping we will see more projects this years that exploit collective intelligence, collaboration and co-creation!

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