Markets are Conversations

20 years after the Cluetrain Manifesto, we are writing this Millennial manifesto for marketers and communicators to unite. As we believe it, the art and science of social media falls under a new approach, at the crossroads of marketing and communication. Both practitioners and companies need to wake up if they don’t want to miss the real value added, the shortcuts to reputation, and effective stakeholder management and employee communication.

Practitioners all the way from academic researchers, digital marketers to PR and reputation specialists need to adapt, need to learn from the young because they are wise. They know better. Practitioners need to speed up, to work smart, and communicate smarter, to upscale processes that slow down and alienate others.

We titled this article Markets are Conversations as a tribute to the four visionaries:  Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto, who in 1999 predicted the magnitude and impact of social networks:

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter, …and getting smarter faster than most companies. These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.”

Luhmann was saying in his Systems Theory that organizations are like plants. They are inter-connected systems that cannot live without communicating with the outside world. Yet, still now, 20 years after the web big-bang, as we are all witnessing the big shift towards organic living, most of us are still watching it with eyes wide shut.

Most corporations, only know how to talk in the soothing, monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do. But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound and act human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

Having said that, we wish you’ll read all the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto, apply the lessons and why not, send us your feedback. Hoping they will empower you as well, we leave you with a teaser:


To traditional corporations, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound confusing. But we are organizing faster than they are. We have better tools, more new ideas, no rules to slow us down.

We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

By Andreea Zaharia, Digital Director

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