Blogs In An Open Source Marketing Setting
Blogs are not just a new marketing tool. They represent a more profound shift in communications and marketing. Maybe it's a bit early to talk about a new marketing paradigm, but we are getting there. Fast.
To put blogging in a broader perspective I've interviewed Fredrik Hallberg about Open Source Marketing, OSM. Fredrik is an experienced internet strategy adviser, and a doctoral candidate at Stockholm University.
- OSM is built on free access to information and discussions so there is a need to have some communication tools present. Weblogs are one of the necessary tools. More generally speaking, OSM is a perspective on marketing where marketers do no longer perceive their consumers as passive targets for corporate messages but as active partners in their value creation processes. This way OSM not only puts the right perspective on blogging but also how to unleash the true power of the Internet, Fredrik Hallberg says.Fredrik defines OSM as a marketing concept based on the fact that Internet is built on distributed communication and not centralized distribution.
- Today's marketing communications theories stems from the model first conceptualized by Shannon and Weaver 1949, where a sender transmits a message to a receiver. Their model is essentially one way while the internet is built on two way communications. Also Shannon and Weavers theory is based on one-to-many communications while the internet is more of a many-to-many communications medium. These facts coupled with how we as humans use the internet create a need to find a new marketing concept theory. Open source marketing fills this gap and as the name indicates it is very much built upon the open source movement and its culture.Looking for examples of OSM we can of course find several software projects. But I find it more interesting to relate to other businesses. Fredrik mentions the, in his view, three most successful examples outside the technology sphere.
- New Line Cinema with "The lord of the rings" (More)
- Procter & Gamble with both Pg.com and Innocentive (More)
- Coldcorp with Goldcorp Challenge (More)
Ok, let's get critical. I understand that "listening" and "conversations" are important keywords for OSM. But isn't this what companies have been trying to do for decades (customer interviews, focus groups etc). How does OSM differ from this?
- Yes, correct. But there are some major differences between Marketing Research the classical way and OSM. In marketing research the marketer makes the questions and then the answers are filled in by the consumers. This clearly limits both the breadth and the depth of the information gathered. In OSM, the consumers make both the questions and the answers as it is essentially a discussion. This way the company discovers new ways to perceive their products and services. Moreover, in a focus group you must both limit the number of the people present in the meeting and the time for the focus group meeting, making it a one shot opportunity to gather a very limited spectrum of the consumers' opinions, Fredrik Hallberg says.OSM is based on openness, transparency, participation, free access to information, listening and discussions. The old marketing concept is built on protection, control, and conviction. "In essence the two marketing theories are each others opposites just as Copyleft is the opposite of Copyright", according to Hallberg.
- In order for new knowledge to develop all information should be free. Free access to information also increases the chances for a community to form, and in turn these communities will develop new knowledge. This is the way the universities have been able to develop new knowledge for centuries so it is nothing new really.