Alex Steer

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You'll never beat the internet again

257 words | ~1 min

Here's a thought.

I'll go mad if I hear another marketer claim that online social media has empowered consumers to talk about marketing. The implication is that they didn't do this before. This is a little like claiming that the birds didn't sing until someone recorded them singing.

Social media channels have done more than improve the general audibility of people's conversations (about everything). They have shifted the balance of power away from those people and organisations who traditionally had access to mass broadcast media, including marketers. This is pretty obvious.

In South Africa they use the term 'historically disadvantaged', which seems ripe to be applied to those of us who can now be heard through social media.

As in post-repressive regimes, the historically disadvantaged users of media suddenly find they call the shots by weight of numbers. They also have little to lose, so their demands for change can be far greater.

Marketers will never again be able consistently to beat ordinary amateur users of social media by any measure of creative excellence. Ever. This is because spending power is nothing compared to weight of numbers. Just as no amount of money can buy you perfect health, yet all of complex life evolved for free, so the internet is always more creative because it can afford to fail thousands of times for every success. No organisation can budget for experimental failure like this.

The thought is this. If you advertise, your main competitor is now the internet. And that's a bit like playing charades against God.

# Alex Steer (26/07/2010)