The year is 1999. At that time, most companies laughed at it and dismissed it as an exaggeration, a call for anarchy and science fiction, but the Cluetrain Manifesto has gained more and more attention over the years. Especially today in the networked world, the Cluetrain Manifesto has a special relevance.

Even before that, when terms like social media and Facebook did not exist at all, many companies had to become painfully familiar with the power of the new consumer. They underestimated, ignored and failed to notice the networked customers. The classics here are Intel with its faulty Pentium processor or Mercedes with its world-famous moose test. Mercedes, however, had better crisis management and public relations at the time. The car manufacturer was very level-headed and recognised the opportunity to use negative public opinion to its advantage and to see criticism as a chance for authentic dialogue with the market.

Then came the first blogs, RSS feeds, Web 2.0 and user-generated content, Facebook, Twitter and Co. and with them the term "social media". Job titles like "social marketing manager" emerged. Companies began to deal with the "new" market. However, without understanding the market.

Social media platforms were clumsily misused as a low-cost advertising opportunity and attempts were made to engage in one-sided communication in a dialogue-based environment created by the consumer. Criticism of this type of corporate communication was rarely welcome and was all too often simply ignored. Often, the community reacted by collectively turning away from such companies.

Where are we today?

Today companies are taking the effects of developments on the Internet and the ongoing networking through mobile devices more seriously and are looking for their own potential and the best possible strategy to profitably participate in these communication channels. Most companies, however, still want to "just be there" without any concept or purpose.

This is understandable, because apart from the internet, mobile, TV and social media, all other communication channels are becoming less and less important.

The challenges are the same for all companies:

From a technical perspective:

Elaborate use of IT systems is necessary to have control (monitoring, evaluation of opinions, publishing, targeting, personalisation, etc.). However, this is contradicted by the following:

  • Publishing divergences at all levels of output due to the constant increase in output channels, output devices and output forms that must be served consistently - especially in the area of social media, there is still a need for optimisation here.
  • The inability and fragmentation of IT systems to absorb and utilise unstructured information from authentic, organically created social content - a so-called collective intelligence that seeks its own channels.

However, both together are necessary, especially in social media marketing, for dialog-based communication. Everything has to fit the context of the user and the respective community, offer opportunities for information guidelines and remain authentic. This reverse and recording channel in particular, as well as the information processing, still consist of immature workflows with an extremely high level of monitoring and interaction.

From a corporate culture perspective:

  • Fear of losing control (negative criticism)/fear of sharing (information, background).
  • Promotion of more independent employees as an interface to social media
  • Need for rules, roadmaps, social media trained staff with appropriate tone of voice
  • Public communication in both directions
  • Little experience and rapid development
  • Rethinking corporate culture, corporate behavior and tonalit
  • Rethinking corporate organization

From a marketing perspective:

  • Traditional advertising is increasingly perceived as a disruption (disruptive overlay banner ads, disruptive ad intros in video content, etc.) and denial techniques are on the rise (pop-up blockers, commercial-free TV & radio, HD recorders)
  • increase in social frenzy and initiatives (citizens collectively assert interests in companies and in world politics)
  • Customer is hybrid user and uses diverse, untraceable channels to make purchase decisions and at the time of purchase
  • Boundaries and hierarchies are broken by the user. Communication and exchange of opinions are faster, less complicated, more personal, more authentic and without social hierarchies
  • The emancipated customer increasingly informs himself, does not believe advertising and boycotts if he is influenced or untruthful
  • Customers increasingly want to become active in content and advertising themselves and realize themselves/customers are increasingly opinion leaders (consumer becomes prosumer)
  • Customers socialise in groups with the same needs and thus create new marketplaces themselves. Customer is networked, loves passion and is emotional - reciprocally, however, the attention span decreases if passion and emotionality on the part of the company is missing - customer wants to be served immediately and with enthusiasm
  • Customers compare marketing statements with the actual actions of the companies and inform themselves about third parties/the customer is hungry for knowledge and wants to be treated authentically
  • Willingness to pay is well-considered and, more than ever, use-oriented


  • Social networks connect to social hubs/permanently installed interfaces to other systems and to end devices increase in the process
  • Customers have universal identities
  • Increase in personalisation in advertising, the more personal, the more effective
  • Increase in real-time communication in advertising
  • Integration of local information and local information services
  • Personalised advertising reaches the most intimate areas through increased socio-demographic information about customers, through mobile media and interactive digital television.
  • Additional, highly complex demands on IT systems due to a wide variety of bidirectional content
  • Companies that manage to participate authentically in the “market discussion” have a competitive edge

Companies must quickly understand social media and mobile media as their own, bidirectional communication channel and as part of the corporate culture that must not be isolated.

Suitable communication channels before, during and after the customer's purchase decision must be strategically found and served for each company, service and product. One approach to this is the model of the Customer Decision Journey. The success of a communication is no longer one-sidedly target group-oriented, but dialogue-oriented. If you miss the conversation, you have lost the customer. Outdated and previously universal sales processes no longer have any meaning. They have always been nothing more than an attempt to squeeze customer behaviour into a desired, manageable and measurable process (the sales funnel model).