David Weinberger to MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2010: Not All Conversations Are Markets (#mpb2b)

The ClueTrain Manifesto: 10th Anniversary Edition

Disclosure: This month, I celebrate my year anniversary as a Contributing Writer for MarketingProfs Get to the Po!nt newsletters. I’m also a MarketingProfs Pro member. I recently attended the MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum, in Boston, MA, where I heard David Weinberger speak on the power of the new digital disorder. In this post, I offer my personal lessons learned, from Weinberger’s thoughtful, and thought-provoking, keynote.  

The keynote on the first day of the MarketingProfs Business to Business Forum 2010 was by David Weinberger, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, which ten years ago outlined how people need to change their way of thinking, to take full advantage of the opportunities created by the connectiveness of the Web. Speaking on “What Marketers Are Still Missing: The Power of the New Digital Disorder,” Weinberger reviewed defining characteristics of networks and showed how the Web has rewritten our most basic understanding of how business works. By harnessing these changes and thinking differently, Weinberger called on marketers to strive for greater transparency, and to resist opportunities that are not in the best interest of business or the Internet.

Five Properties of Networks

During the lunch-time presentation, Weinberger described the five properties of networks on the Internet.

  • Large: “Networked conversations know more about the business than the business may itself.”
  • Always Different: “Networks always change.” “Someone who is engaged at one moment, may be disengaged the next.” “You cannot step into the same network twice.”
  • Transparent: Networks today are comprised of transparent sources, a transparent self, transparent humanity, and transparent interests. This transparency includes a recognition of our own fallibility. Transparency fosters trust—it enables us to trust facts (via transparent sources), you as a person (transparent self), and what you’re up to (transparent interests).
  • Integrated Channels: The Internet is an information medium, communication medium, and social medium—all at the same time. It’s “almost impossible not to form groups, Weinberger explained, “even when we’re just going to the Net for information.” The Internet does not respect the walls around business functionality. Each link represents a connection to something we care about.
  • Interests Level Rank: Business on the Net is governed by interest; the default on the Web is to hide rank. If you pull rank, it’s considered bad form, because rank inhibits conversation. Instead, the Net fosters an environment of disagreement and ambiguity.

Tips for Engaging on the Net

a picture of an autographed copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto, with David Weinberger's autograph

Autograph Souvenir from the MarketingProfs B2B Forum: Not Too Shabby

Weinberger advised “embrace this mess,” as represented by the full engagement spectrum, on the Internet, both positive and negative. He provided these specific tips:

  • Engage in social media, but as you do it, embrace the entire spectrum of engagement. We need a variety of ways to engage. Social media alone is not enough; we must address all interests, all at once.
  • Don’t be afraid to acknowledge negative comments, to admit that you are fallible, or to disagree. “It’s the disagreement that makes the conversation richer,” Weinberger observed. In a network based on difference, he noted it’s better to have a transparent disagreement, than a phony agreement.
  • Engage on the Net, similar to how we engage in politics. This approach leads to people both loving and hating you, at the same time. (This is a good thing, Weinberger implied.) Make sure to stand for something.
  • Tell the truth, even in the simple things, down to the product specifications on your site. Make us understand what you stand behind; don’t fake it.
  • Resist opportunities: “Don’t use every case to insert your ideas into the environment.” Participate in conversations, carefully.
  • Be vigilant about keeping access to the Internet open. (During the Question and Answers after the keynote, Weinberger referred to this as a “dangerous time in Internet history,” expressing concerns over continued open access to the Net. For more on these views , he referred the audience to his blog.)

A Call to Action

In probably the most memorable moment of his MarketingProfs keynote, Weinberger revised the quotation, “markets are conversations,” (arguably the most well-known premise from The ClueTrain Manifesto), with the appended insight that “not all conversations are markets.”

Weinberger’s meaning here, and the implications for us today, is perhaps clearer, and just as challenging, when we recall those powerful words from The ClueTrain Manifesto, now some ten years ago:

Market leaders were men and women whose hands were worn by the work they did. Their work was their life, and their brands were the names they were known by: Miller, Weaver, Skinner, Farmer, Brewer, Fisher, Shoemaker, Smith.

For thousands of years, we knew exactly what markets were: conversations between people who sought out others who shared the same interests. Buyers had as much to say as sellers. They spoke directly to each other without the filter of media, the artifice of positioning statements, the arrogance of advertising, or the shading of public relations.

These were the kinds of conversations people have been having since they started to talk. Social. Based on intersecting interests. Open to many resolutions. Essentially unpredictable. Spoken from the center of the self. “Markets were conversations” doesn’t mean “markets were noisy.” It means markets were places where people met to see and talk about each other’s work.

Conversation is a profound act of humanity. So once were markets.

(The ClueTrain Manifesto, 10th Anniversary Edition, p. 149).

Weinberger reminds us that conversation on the Net is messy, running the full gamut of the engagement spectrum—that is, human experience. Conversation on the Net has the potential to harness not just the best in business, but also the best in the human spirit. At it’s worst, well…you get the picture. Weinberger’s implied call to action: Participate in the conversation, but participate carefully, transparently, passionately, in good humor—and always with a clear understanding of what’s at stake.

About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

Awareness Inc. Webinar: Using Online Communities to Create a World Wide Rave, featuring David Meerman Scott ~ Takeaways


How to Start a World Wide Rave

Webinar Date: May 13, 2009 2:00 PM EST

Host: Mike Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Awareness, Inc. (also known as @bostonmike on Twitter).

Awareness, Inc. builds online communities via a “Social Media Marketing Platform that combines User-Generated Content (blogs, wikis, discussions, photos, and videos) and Social Networking (profiles, expert location, and member searching), with Enterprise Security and Control.” The platform provides metrics on the back-end.

The online communities for Awareness, Inc.’s Social Media Marketing platform are based on the top eight use cases, which Awareness, Inc. has identified with its customers:  Innovation, Corporate Voice, UGC Campaign, Loyalty, Enthusiasts, Associations/Subscribers, Peer Support, and Events.

Audience members for Awareness, Inc.’s products include community members, community administrators, and enterprise IT. Brand-name customers include Kodak, Sony Electronics, JetBlue, Hershey’s, American Heart Association, and others.

Presenter: The biography provided in his most recent book, World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories (Wiley, 2009), describes David Meerman Scott as “an award-winning online marketing strategist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and seminar leader. He is also the bestselling author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers  (Wiley, 2007).”

For most of his career, Scott worked “in the online news business, including positions as vice president of marketing at NewsEdge Corporation and an executive position in an electronic information division of Knight-Ridder, at one time one of the world’s largest newspaper companies” (p. 192, World Wide Rave). For more information, visit Scott’s website  and Web Ink Now blog. You can also follow him on Twitter as @dmscott.

Format: A live WebEx session, including Scott’s slide presentation, with chat function as well as discussion on Twitter, via #awarenessinc.

The webinar describes how to use online communities to create a World Wide Rave. A World Wide Rave occurs when you get “thousands or even millions of people to share your ideas and stories on the Web” (p. 4).

Examples of Successful World Wide Raves 

During the hour-long webinar, David Meerman Scott provided several examples of successful World Wide Raves, which he further discusses in his book.

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: When Cindy Gordon, vice president, New Media Marketing at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, announced plans for a major new theme park, she told just seven people, triggering a World Wide Rave, which would ultimately reach 350,000,000 people.  She told seven of the most influential Harry Potter bloggers, who in turn told their readers, who in turn told the people they knew about the attraction. “Then mainstream media listened to those tens of thousands and wrote about the news in their newspaper and magazine articles, in TV and radio reports, and in blog posts” (p. 8).
  • Dr. Helaine Smith’s Dentistry Practice: Dr. Helaine Smith, a Boston dentist, used to advertise her services in the print yellow pages, for $2000 per month. Not so today, as her e-book, Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!:
    How Your Oral Mouth Affects Your Sex Life
    , triggered a World Wide Rave, which helped increase her business from “10,000 to $15,000 a month” (p. 51). In addition to the e-book, she has maintained “a content-rich web site for years and recently added a blog and a podcast” (p. 50).
  • Still Alice: Lisa Genova could not find a publisher for her book Still Alice, a story about early onset Alzheimer’s disease, so she published it herself and started a web site about the disease. As Genova’s popularity grew through her web site, which provided helpful information to both patients and care-givers, as well as her blog contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Voice Open Move campaign (p. 169), Simon and Schuster offered to buy the rights to her book for a half million dollars. The book made #7 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Buyer Personas

Scott explored the importance of creating buyer personas, in successful marketing today. As an example, he described web sites for hotel chains, which could be so much more effective, if developers organized content around buyer personas, instead of around the product. For example, a hotel web site’s organization and content might reflect each of these different personas: business person, corporate travel manager, family on vacation, and couple planning a wedding. Blogs on the hotel web sites could reinforce these various personas. Scott mentioned HubSpot’s user persona for an Internet Marketing Manager, as “Internet Ian.” As companies develop buyer personas for their respective products, Scott advises that they consider these points:

  • Who are your buyer personas?
  • What do you want buyers to believe about your brand?
  • Think like a publisher. (Consider hiring a journalist to help you develop content for various media like YouTube, eBlogger, and so on.)

Rules of the Rave

The following rules reflect my notes from David Meerman Scott’s webinar. For a complete explanation of these rules, see his book, World Wide Rave.

  1. Nobody cares about your products (except you).
    People do care about solving their own problems. Speak in their language, not corporate Gobbledygook, which is a symptom of not understanding your buyer personas.
  2. No coercion required.
    Publish content that people are eager to consume, based on your buyer personas.
  3. Lose control.
    Lose control of marketing and messaging, letting customers speak in their own language, not yours.
    Example #1: Scott described a recent Grateful Dead concert in Worcester, where concert goers were allowed and encouraged to tape the show. (For more information, See Marketing lessons from the [Grateful] Dead on Scott’s blog: Web Ink Now.)
    Example #2: To jumpstart people talking about his new book, Scott encouraged his publisher to allow free Amazon downloads of World Wide Rave on Kindle, for one week. As a consequence, his previous book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, hit the Business Week Best Seller list.
  4. Put down roots.
    Scott encouraged webinar participants to download New Media and the Airforce to see how even the government is putting down roots in social media. (For more information, see his related blog post, Free Social Media Ebook and Video: New Media and the Air Force).
  5. Create triggers that encourage people to share.
    Scott described the successful Girls Fight Back! campaign, where teenage girls share on Facebook video clips of their self-defense training, from their Mobile phones.
  6. Point the world to your virtual doorstep.
    Measure the success of your social media campaigns. For example, use the number of times visitors come in to your site, by clicking on your viral e-book from Google. However, do not let these measurements become an excuse for not trying social media. Even highly regulated environments, such as healthcare and pharmaceutical settings, can talk to their customers in a humanized voice. Make sure your lawyers are people you can work with. The best organizations let social media have an equal say with the lawyers. If the US Air Force can embrace social media, any organization, including business to business, can engage in conversation.


  • “Word of Mouse” = creating attention, by getting people to talk about you.
  • Marketers must unlearn what they learned for old media. Before, you had to “buy or beg for attention” from the media. Now, you can “publish your way in.”
  • Publish content around buyer personas, instead of around your product.
  • “On the web, you are what you publish.”
  • “The back button is the third most used button.” (Don’t use content to trick or trap people on your page.)
  • One idea may not be enough to trigger a World Wide Rave. Invest in several ideas, at the same time.
  • Opposite of a World Wide Rave is a “World Wide Rant.” If a Rant (negative Word of Mouth) occurs, respond in the same way the rant started. (For example, if the rant started by way of video, respond with your own video.)

Peg’s Concluding Note:

This was an exceptionally helpful webinar, especially for practitioners who are looking for successful examples of social media, at its most impactful. The rules of the World Wide Rave also gave both the webinar and book (which I have been reading over the last couple weeks) an over-arching “how-to” framework. Learning about the Air Force’s guidelines on using social media was an extra bonus, for anyone looking for a model on how to develop an internal, social media policy. I also appreciated Mike Lewis’ overview on the different types of online communities for marketing, and a full discussion of those communities would make an excellent, future webinar.

Photo Credit, midiman

Related Links:

Awareness Inc. Webinar: Building Digital Communities on the Social Web, featuring Larry Weber ~ Takeaways

Webinar Date: April 9, 2009 2:00 PM EST

Host: Mike Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Awareness, Inc. http://twitter.com/bostonmike on Twitter)

PresenterLarry Weber is CEO and chairman of The W2 Group Inc. in Waltham, MA.  W2 Group is an ecosystem of marketing services firms that includes Racepoint Group (public relations agency), Digital Influence Group (interactive agency) and Two Martinis (branding firm.) Weber Shandwick, which Larry also founded, is the world’s largest technology PR firm. 

Other credentials for Larry include being cofounder and Chairman of the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, the world’s largest online advocacy organization.

He is the author of Marketing to the Social Web (978-0-470-12417-8), from Wiley, and Sticks and Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created over Time and Lost in a Click. (Sticks and Stonesis available for preorder on Amazon right now but will not be released officially until July 2009.) 

Format: A live WebEx session (with slides now available at Awareness Inc.), with chat function as well as discussion on Twitter, via #awarenessinc.  

The webinar describes how to leverage social media in marketing, defines new rules of engagement, and provides seven steps to building digital communities.

What is the Social Web?

The social web is “an online place where people with a common interest can get together to share thoughts, comments, and opinions.”  It represents “a new world of unpaid media created by individuals or enterprises on the web.”

Users control the message through blogs, conversation, collaboration, video, and podcasts.

The Marketer’s New Job

“Future marketers will shift from being broadcasters to content publishers and aggregators of communities. Rather than talking at customers, marketers should talk with them, by participating in, organizing, and encouraging social networks.”

Entering Web 4.0

Weber believes we are entering Web 4.0.

  • Web 1.0: The Web was just a publishing platform.
  • Web 2.0: Browser invented  & evolution of 1stgeneration of Web companies. For example: eBay & Google.
  • Web 3.0: Social Web, with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and YouTube (2nd most popular search engine).
  • Web 4.0: Emotive Web: A highly visual place. No longer just a channel. Must have a complete digital strategy.

Seven Steps to Building Digital Communities

Weber spent most of the webinar discussing how to build digital communities:

  1. Observe the conversations. [Use the search engine for the blogosphere:  http://technorati.com/.]
  2. Recruit community members. [Social media is not out of the broadcast era, not one way communication. Social media is one to many communication.]
  3. Evaluate online conduit strategies. [Online conduits include blogs & news sites, reputation aggregators, e-communities, and social networks. For examples, see the excellent slide for this step at http://www.awarenessnetworks.com/resources/]
  4. Engage communities in conversation.  [Build content that facilitates conversation.]
  5. Measure the community’s involvement. [Another great slide at http://www.awarenessnetworks.com/resources/. Shows examples of qualitative and quantitative measurements.]
  6. Promote you community to the world. [Calls for an organic search strategy.]
  7. Improve the community’s benefits. [The Lesson of Friendster.]


  • “It’s not about talking at customers and prospects. It’s about creating and engaging with communities.”
  • Brand is dialogue.
  • Weber predicts YouTube will have a huge impact on the way we market (second most popular search engine).
  • Micro-segmentation will be critical to the way social media evolves.
  • To those who point out podcasting has not taken off, Weber suggests that in scenarios where podcasting has not worked, it was either because it was “boring” or the podcast was not promoted correctly.
  • Podcasts remain important, but are giving way to video. Rich media and visual communication will only become more important.
  • Amazon is the future of commerce sites, where we go to our favorite stores to be entertained, educated, and then to buy.
  • When discussing Leveraging Social Media in Marketing: Weber noted that social media is not just for marketing, but every department that touches the customer. Examples: Sales, HR, Customer Service.
  • On content creation, Weber notes the need for a combination of enterprise and user-generated content. Professionals must remain in the mix.
  • On measuring the community involvement, we need to do a better job assessing the qualitative  as well as the quantitative.
  • Companies who get it: Marriot, Hershey’s, Sony, & American Heart Association.
  • The social web approach for Business to Business is more gated, micro-segmented, and formal.
  • “Marketing has been too focused on buying our way into the hearts of customers, not talking our way into the hearts of customers” through direct conversation.

Additional Information

If you missed this presentation, check out the complete slides at http://www.awarenessnetworks.com/resources/

The next webinar at Awareness is
Marketing Agencies & Social Media: What marketers expect from their agencies

Featuring Emily Riley, Sr. Analysts, Forrester Research
April 29 – 11am ET
Register at Awareness, Inc.


Farah from RacePoint Group provided the following helpful information about how to best keep up with Larry Weber: