Tom van Laer answers the question posed in response to
his blog on 17th October, 2012.
Thank you, Abhijin, for this interesting question.
Depending on your age and memory, developments in the modern
marketing industry seem radically new or reassuringly old. To me
the past five years have seemed like the former. I perceive a new
deal: Whereas in the past 150 years, media have been pushed to
people, today consumers get to be part of the conversation. Using a
Facebook-inspired approach, I argue that companies can piggyback on
social actions by online users, because people ultimately influence
These claims of course echo Katz and Lazarsfeld who argue that
marketers do not simply broadcast messages to a passive audience
but rather that they target certain "opinion leaders" who then
spread, confirm, or negate the marketers' messages through their
own "social relationships," whether by word of mouth or personal
example. Yet Katz and Lazarsfeld also assume that most of these
conversations, and their implicit marketing messages, remain
inaudible to firms. The notion that firms might eavesdrop on this
chatter became widely conceivable with the rise of weblogs (blogs).
Thus Searls and Weinberger could argue that "markets are
conversations," and blogs can make the conversations
To the earliest practitioners of this new media form, blogging
entailed regular sharing of written stories, later adding photos
and videos, about themselves and their experiences, with a few
interested friends and relatives. Today lots of Internet users do
similar things, though they may not consider it blogging; instead,
they only see themselves as updating their profile pages on
Facebook, MySpace, or other social media sites. Whether in the form
of blogs or profile pages though, these are persuasive narratives
about who the posters are and what they have been doing.