Citizen Marketers is about how amateurs and professionals are working together—intentionally or unintentionally—to assume new forms of ownership in the companies, brands, products and people they closely follow—and how this widespread publishing and distribution of ideas is disrupting traditional models of corporate marketing.
As social media—which is defined as the sum total of people who create content online, as well as the people who interact with it or one another—remove barriers to widespread distribution, they create new challenges for companies and organizations that are used to closely stage-managing their reputations.
The authors divide these citizen marketers into four categories: Filters, Fanatics, Facilitators and Firecrackers.
Filters are human wire services. They collect traditional media stories, bloggers’ ramblings, podcasts or other creations about a specific company, organization or product and then package this information into a regular stream of links, story summaries and observations. Filters are usually objective, although they occasionally cross over into analysis. They are amateur brand journalists, and sometimes they turn pro.
Fanatics are true believers and evangelists. Their role as citizen marketers may include filtering work, but they mainly focus on analyzing a brand, product or person—even if the company or organization isn’t listening.
Facilitators are community creators whose primary tool is a Web-based bulletin board or community software. According to the authors, Facilitators are like the mayors of online towns—and some online communities exceed the population of small cities.
Firecrackers are the one-hit wonders of citizen marketers. Typically, they attract a great deal of attention because they have created a song, animation, video or novelty that initially generates a lot of interest but then dies out quickly. However, Firecrackers illustrate three principles of amateur content in the world of social media: Memes—cultural transmitters that distinguish one idea from the billions of others out there—can live indefinitely on the web; social media networks accelerate the spread of memes; and people love to mimic what entertains them.
The work of citizen marketers is defined by three commonalities:
Personal expression. Their opinions or journalism are their own, not unlike what a professional journalist, pundit or analyst would do.
Amateur status. They are usually volunteers and are transparent about their motives and associations.
Freely given. Their work is not meant to steal money, time or attention away from the company or organization of their affiliation; instead, it’s meant to enhance it.
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