Last Updated Oct 26, 2007 2:08 PM EDT
It hasn't work out that way. In fact, a research paper titled Digital Interactivity: Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing, and Consumers, published September 26, argues that consumers, far from being victims of marketing technology, are instead using its power in the form of consumer review sites (Epinions), social networking hubs (Bebo), trading sites (eBay), and user-generated content sites (YouTube) to circumvent Big Media.
If true, argue researchers John Deighton and Leora Kornfeld, it's time for marketers to reflect and retool how they approach prospective buyers. Forget broadcasting your message. You now have to interact with user communities -- and you better travel lightly.
"Commerce has had to enter these traffic lanes with caution. The marketer in peer-to-peer environments is an interloper, more talked-about than talking. At best its role is to provoke conversations among consumers, and at worst it becomes the enemy, attacked with invective or parody," observe Deighton and Kornfeld. "Today, as marketing strategy grapples with the question of how to work with social media, old paradigms die hard. Marketing may be less a matter of domination and control, and more a matter of fitting in."
Should marketers consider social networking sites friend or foe? What's the best strategy for "traveling lightly" in these waters while still making an impact on potential customers?