The Cluetrain Manifesto: 5 Essentials for Social Media Success

Last Updated Mar 3, 2010 12:48 PM EST

the manifesto's trademark armadillo picture
How many times has a consultant opened their presentation with a quotation from 1999's "The Cluetrain Manifesto" to justify jumping onto the social media bandwagon? "Markets are conversations". QED (or so they think).

I have been a longtime admirer of the manifesto, which is made up of 95 theses.

I'm going to look at just five of the ones I think are most important here:

#3: "Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice" In social media, it means that you have to have real people and real-life interaction -- including behind-the-scenes -- when discussions are triggered in tools like twitter. Automated responses will

#7: "Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy" This doesn't mean that your boss should be replaced. It means websites are driven by links, not menus, and that they aren't designed like software. Too many business discussions (not to say feuds) are triggered by the relative position of a menu within a home page. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the Web is working and the way that SEO is done.

#24: "Bombastic boasts -- 'we are positioned to be the pre-eminent provider of XYZ' -- do not constitute a position In social media, what matters is directness, truth, honesty, disclosure, real information from real people, not pre-formatted pitches in corporate speak.

#26: Public relations don't not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets. There's a tendency for PR to focus on the negative and to deal with a select view. Social media's presence means PR needs to bring back the human factor -- interacting directly and in real time with the public at large, not just VIPs, and acting in a positive way, not just negatively.

#66: We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for websites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance. Clients, ecosystems, visitors at large -- they all want information that is useful to them, not meaningless company brochures. Looking at corporate websites makes me realise how little progress has been made in 16 years. Corporate websites have become the new bone of contention between entities, the area over which all business units are battling. People lose track of what could be of interest to visitors. This is also what makes blogs easier to manage than corporate websites, as blogs are real opinions from real people.

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  • Yann Gourvennec

    Yann Gourvennec is head of internet and digital media at Orange Business Services. He is in charge of the international operator's websites and blogs. and has been in marketing and innovation for over 20 years.