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07/29/2010 It's the People, Stupid

I've been reading the latest 360i whitepaper "Twitter & the Consumer" this week. It's a study about how people use Twitter and what they talk about. The part of the report that seems to interest most people is the data showing that people aren't using Twitter to talk about brands, they use it instead to talk to each other.

I'm wondering: Is this really news?

Marketers and brands tend to be incredibly self-centered. I'm not sure if it's due to the power of the late broadcast era, or whether it's due to the type of people who tend to work in the industry. Whatever the reason, the era of the self-centered marketer is over, that's what I see as the true message of this study.

It's too bad we've already labeled this next era as Social Media. It's really People Media. Of the people, by the people, for the people. 

This doesn't mean that marketers have no role to play here. It means that marketers and brands have to show up as people. The ones who do it best are the ones who have either put themselves out front as a person first and a marketer second (Scotty Monty, Frank Eliason), or those brands who identify quickly who's actually doing the talking and tweeting (Zappos, Best Buy). The ones who do it well act like people too, which means they listen and converse, rather than spout.

I must have quoted Adrian Ho a dozen times here in the last six months, but he nailed it: "People don't want relationships with brands, they want relationships with other people."

The 360i Twitter study puts numbers behind this. We might be tweeting about the silliest, inane or personal topic, but we're tweeting for us and our friends and acquaintances, not for brands.

If brands and marketers want to succeed, they'll have to remember: It's the People, Stupid.


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