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Friday, September 19, 2008

The New World Order: Consumer Engagement

Engagement I originally uploaded by C.Barr.
I submitted this article to Solutia Now!, our company newsletter. It was published on 8/12/08.

There’s a new world order around and it’s called engagement – consumer or end-user engagement. It’s a manifestation of The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual declaration that all markets are conversations. It results from increased access to broadband Internet and the many tools that enable conversation. It’s also here to stay.

The new world order affects all aspects of our lives: how we bank, share photos [e.g., Flickr], prepare homework, make phone calls [e.g., Skype], network professionally [e.g. LinkedIn], research [e.g., Google], buy stuff [e.g., Amazon], and find directions [e.g., MapQuest], even how we work. It allows us to express our opinions and benefit from the experiences of others. It even allows us to engage in conversations around topics of common interest.

In fact, the new world order blurs the lines between public and personal lives, between behemoth organizations and individual end users. You see, individuals prefer to engage with other individuals. The more organizations encourage employees to get involved in the conversation, the better end users react, and the more organizations can learn and contribute.

It’s a wonderful and vibrant time during which an open exchange of ideas via blogs, wikis and communities leads to co-creation, new solutions and value creation. Participants engage fully!

And, although the breakdown of the old rules of market interaction – think traditional push, mass-market communications – may intimidate or overwhelm, they don’t have to, particularly if you embrace the new world order.

Nylon Intermediates’ Wear-Dated carpet fiber has embraced the new world order. We’re listening, participating in the conversation and creating digital content. And, then, we relate it all back to the recently redesigned Wear-Dated website. The goal: to engage end users.

With Google alerts, we listen for conversations about our brand and category.

We participate in social media activities like Blogger Social and BlogHer Business, contribute to The Age of Conversation, experiment with platforms like Twitter and Plurk, post photos to Flickr and have a presence on Facebook [both with a Wear-Dated carpet fiber page and a Friends of Wear-Dated group].

We create digital content. Lots of it. On Flooring The Consumer as it relates to marketing, the retail experience and marketing to women [i.e., B2B]. On The Carpetology Blog as it relates to anything carpet related [i.e., B2C]. We even have a video series, titled “A Foot’s Perspective” on YouTube, brought to you by The Women of Wear-Dated!

We integrate all of those efforts on the newly redesigned Wear-Dated website which is social media friendly. The site is searchable, share-able and comment-able. Visitors can rate and comment on products and retailers. We link Carpetology [or Flooring The Consumer] content to specific web pages or to the Newsroom. Not only do we promote retailer or mill partner consumer events, but we’ve created content that helps tell the story behind the Wear-Dated brand, the people of Wear-Dated and our programs. We’ve even enabled RSS or email subscription for Newsroom items.

With these steps, we begin to demonstrate that the Wear-Dated brand consists of real human beings who care passionately about the carpet category and products made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber. We also draw in mill and retail partners to help tell the carpet story.

We’ve only just begun our journey, but expect the new world order to be rich, rewarding and full of engaging conversation. If you’d like to join us, look for us in the blogosphere, on Facebook, the Wear-Dated website or simply email cbwhittemore [at] gmail [dot] com.

This article also inspired my related post Consumers And The New World Order at the TalkFloor Blog.

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