One of the seminal books of the web is more than a decade old. As the landscape changes it's also an essential read for anyone looking to understand the social web.
by Dan Slee
If you really want to irritate someone and show them how far from the curve they actually are point them at ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto.’
Published in 1999 as the product of a web forum the 95 points sketches out how the social web will work and what the future will look like.
It’s bold stuff. The old way of doing things are dead. Thanks to the web people can organise themselves far faster than organisations. The organisation that fails to realise all this will be left behind.
Not all of the points have come true. But enough have to make a closer reading of the original 95-points part of your reading list. The 10 year anniversary paperback with essays around the subject is worth a punt. But the original list will do just fine.
For those on the bow wave of innovation this will be nothing new. But to comms people coming to terms with the changing landscape it's good advice.
For me, the thing that shines through really clearly is the importance of using the human voice.
On the social web, the streams that, in the wise words of blogger Adrian Short ‘speak human’ are the ones that connect best and in times of stress have some social capital to fall back on. Social capital, by the way, is the indefinable sense of appreciation when someone talks to you like a human and even helps you out on a thing or two.
Just to whet your appetite here are 16 of them comms people need to know right here:
- Markets are conversations.
- Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
- Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
- Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
- The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
- In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.
- Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.
- Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.
- Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.
- Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.
- To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.
- You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!
- We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal.
- We know some people from your company. They're pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you're hiding? Can they come out and play?
- Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances.
- We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.
The Cluetrain Manifesto can be read in full here.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0. He also blogs here.