Social Media Case Studies, Book Reviews

The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media Importance

I love the strategy of Seth Godin’s Domino Project, which is reinventing the publishing business by making hard cover books easier to find, remember, and digest (the average Domino book contains fewer than 100 pages).

Amazon.com  We Are All Weird 9781936719228  Seth Godin  Books The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media ImportanceThe most recent Domino book to be published was by Godin himself, and unfortunately I didn’t find it particularly good. Called We Are All Weird The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media Importance, it’s a somewhat haphazard treatise on the rise of the individual, and the notion that modern society enables us to embrace our specific proclivities like never before. It shouts not only the benefits of being unique, but that businesses must inexorably retool to serve this new “weirdness” because the “mass” market has essentially disappeared.

I don’t disagree with the premise, but We Are All Weird reads like it was written in a weekend, and is primarily a mashup of the preferable The Long Tail The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media Importance and The Paradox of Choice The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media Importance with a heavy dose of Godin one-liners. It also has a bit of “I’m in Manhattan, surrounded by an abundance of interesting, globally-inspired options. Ain’t that grand?” elitism that I suspect won’t be fully clenched to the bosom of flyover state marketers.

For a more considered, practical book on niches and the granularity of modern business, I recommend Kelly McDonald’s How to Market to People Not Like You The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media Importance.

Despite the fact that I didn’t love We Are All Weird on the whole, there are two passages that I positively adore, and that have substantial social media relevance.

On page 34, Godin writes:

“If you want to sell $900 handmade rifles to obsessive collectors, the easiest way to grow your sales is to grow the market of obsessive rifle collectors. That means that marketers evangelize this particular weirdness to those who might be entranced by it.”

This is precisely the way companies need to think about their social media initiatives, most especially anything in the brand community (Facebook and otherwise) category. The objective isn’t to breed new customers, but rather to increase the temperature of current customers from luke warm to a roiling boil. This deepens interest, builds loyalty, and creates advocacy – turning customers into volunteer marketers.

Stop talking about your products and services as objects and items, and talk more about who and how those products and services are used to do amazing things. Build a culture of accomplishment around your offerings, rather than a culture of availability.

On page 49 he writes:

“As soon as consumers enter the marketplace, they gain power, because power comes from choice. Consumer power is a brand new force, and it’s growing exponentially as a result of more affluence running in parallel with more choice.”

This is so dead-on it’s scary, and it’s a topic that’s not covered nearly enough. I’d love to see a whole book about this. What drives social media is the fact that modern consumers care about what they buy and from whom enough to investigate, interact, and associate with brands. Did we want to “engage” with Kellog’s in 1975? Of course not. Why bother? When you only have a small number of choices and those choice are fundamentally undifferentiated, your selection of one vs the others says NOTHING about your tastes or preferences.

We want to engage with brands today not because doing so is fundamentally pleasurable or advantageous, but because doing so sends social signals about us that we deem important.

The ability to choose drives the desire to promote that selection (and is at the root of Facebook’s new applications system that will have us clicking “drank” “ate” “read” and “watched” buttons soon).

Towards the end, Godin talks about the billions of information channels now available, and our ability to customize our news and content precisely to our own selections. This is a concept that fascinates me, and I’m not at all sure it’s a net benefit to society that we can now consume “news” that fits 100% with whatever belief system we choose to support.

I wrote about that a while ago here “Why Blogs Kill Dissent“.

I don’t suspect you’ll love We Are All Weird The Power of Consumer Choice Drives Social Media Importance, but I may be wrong. And there’s definitely worse ways to spend an hour and $16. (disclosure: I did not buy this book. Domino sends me all of their releases for review. links are affiliate).

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  • OnlineBusinesVA

    “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress” — Herbert Hoover. I always try to remember this quote and try to implement it. Thanks for the great post.

    Shilpi Singha Roy

    http://www.online-business-virtual-ssistant.com/

  • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

    Yeah – Honesty in a book review.

    Of all the passages in this post THIS one has the most impact on me:

    “Stop talking about your products and services as objects and items, and talk more about who and how those products and services are used to do amazing things. Build a culture of accomplishment around your offerings, rather than a culture of availability.”

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @AmyMccTobin Thanks Amy. Maybe I should write a Domino book! ;)

      • http://www.arielmarketinggroup.com/ AmyMccTobin

        @JayBaer I want to write an Age of the Curator book.

      • http://jennifersroberts.com/ Collectual

        @JayBaer@AmyMccTobin Amy, I totally agree with you. That one line “Build a culture of accomplishment around your offerings, rather than a culture of availability.” is worthy of a book all on its own. I love the idea of focusing on achievement through a product or service rather than speeds/feeds.

  • markwschaefer

    The emperor has no clothes. I love the idea behind domino but the content has been crap so far. It can’t last unless they do something more than re-purpose blog posts. Or maybe they know something I don’t. It is Godin after all. : )

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @markwschaefer I won’t go that far, as Derek Sivers’ book (which was indeed repurposed blog posts) was also one of my favorite books of the year.

  • tomcatalini

    Jay,

    Thanks for the honest blog post. I love most of Seth’s work, but do tire of the always favorable reviews. Funny timing on this, though, as I had just listened to Mitch Joel’s podcast where he interviews Seth about this book. I found the content of that podcast riveting. I’m assuming it’s talking mostly about the ideas in the book, but I could be wrong, and they might be presented in a different way.

    Tom

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @tomcatalini Seth (and Mitch) are incredibly compelling speakers. Definitely helps!

  • http://www.griyamobilkita.com/ prajaniati

    Nice article, thanks for the information.

  • DuanePrimozich

    Hi Jay

    Thanks for the review and your bravery in panning a Godin work.

    I too read the book, but had a much more favorable view of it. You can’t look at the majority of marketing in the CPG space today and conclude that most companies “get it”. I am hopeful that most are scurrying to figure it out, but the product (marketing) out there today generally does not reflect the new realities that Weird outlines.

    I think Seth does a good job of illustrating the implications of an ever flattening bell curve. It certainly makes the marketer’s job a little harder and a little more nuanced, but consumers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of a marketing discipline the evolves to live with us weirdos rather tell us how to live.

    I love this quote from the end of the book, “If you’ve made it to the end of this manifesto and come to the conclusion that you need to spend more time going after niche markets, I fear we have both failed”. I think that gets to the crux of his argument – embrace the weird, get comfortable with it, recognize it in yourself and in the people you serve – your customers.

    I think of it this way: the more I get to know my personal friends, the better I understand what matters to them. If I want to be a good friend, I look for ways to enrich their lives based on that. With that perspective in mind and the rich ecosystem that is social media, this is a rewarding time to be a marketer.

    Thanks

    Duane

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @DuanePrimozich Indeed Duane. That quote about niche markets really resonated with me too.

  • http://www.businesstooligans.com/ ChaseSherman

    Jay,

    I appreciate your point: “…talk more about who and how those products and services are used to do amazing things.”

    It seems like the real objective is to market our products as experiences… “tools” to give us certain feelings. Thus, like you mention later on, “We want to engage with brands today not because doing so is fundamentally pleasurable or advantageous, but because doing so sends social signals about us that we deem important.”

    We have a certain feeling associated to what we share.

    Cheers.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      @ChaseSherman Yes. It’s about making US feel better, not about making brands feel better.

  • copyblogger

    Funny, I read it more as “Purple Cow Lite.” It’s really about the narrowing of positioning (or at least of effectively segmenting message positioning) in order to attract and spread. Seth has never been a “how to” writer, of course, but I thought the point was valid. Maybe too basic for many, but this is something that big brands continue to screw up (see Ragu).

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com JayBaer

      True dat.

  • teriel

    Thanks for the review. I think he’s pointing things out that social media marketers should already know, in terms of writing to your audience and also recognizing consumer power. It surprises me how often this is treated as if its something new.

  • http://www.socialmarketingdynamics.com/ Sydney @ Social Dynamics

    I appreciate the heads up about the book. But those two key points are so true though. For a certain niche to grow, the key is to find ways in improving its glamour or usefulness, so as to retain and get more consumers behind the brand.

  • GarryOwen

    Glad to read your review before buying the book. Saves me time and money. Both of which are precious commodities in our business.

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