Douglas Rushkoff speaks at CMA WOM Conference

Douglas Rushkoff , Founder of NYU’s Narrative Lab, is the closing keynote at the CMA’s Word of Mouth Conference .

I’m liveblogging the session using CoverItLive . My notes are below:

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Douglas Rushkoff (06/12/2008) 
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Word of Mouth and Marketing is an oxymoron.
Word of mouth happened when communication only happened in a social context. Marketing was developed in an ear of mass media that could be monopolized. They have a very different character.
Advertising is over. It’s a modern invention. It’s over because what we think of as “branding” is over. Branding is an artifact of broadcasting culture, of top down communications. The Internet is bringing this era to an end.
Our thinking about social media is skewed by our thinking about what was before.
Modern brands have replaced the real relationships we have with individuals and small businesses with “mythological” relationships that are constructed through mass media campaigns.
Mass production led to mass marketing which led to mass media.
Mass production depersonalizes the worker. Mass marketing desocializes. Mass media isolates the invidual audience member.
In the social media space, brands are deconstructed as soon as they are communicated. Value is created in a decentralized way by people using something and then communicating it to others.
Dumb marketers have tried to do traditional marketing in a viral way. They recruite Paris Hilton for burger campaigns. Burger sales fall. Paris Hilton’s reputation goes up. Marketing fails.
Marketers first reacted to new media by porting the old techniques to the new medium. Remember the concept of “sticky” websites? Did consumers really want to be portrayed as flies on flypaper?
When other tactics failed, marketers tried to fake it. And they were found out.
All of these efforts have been about trying to restore traditional brand storytelling into the new media. And it doesn’t work.
We are moving into a single communications space in which advertising will evolve into public relations. The difference between advertising and PR is the difference between fiction and nonfiction in a book store. Advertising is about creating fictions. PR is about explaining what is happening in the real world.
In a single communications space, a company can give consumers the social currency to talk about what the company does. They can reach out to people who share a passion for what the company does. And they can rely on those consumers to talk about this.
A metric of success for Word of Mouth should be how many people are applying for jobs at your company. How many people think it would be a great place to work?
The task of the smart company’s communication/PR department should be to provide people with the information they need to talk about their companies – social currency. That’s when a company achieves transparency – the breakdown of the walls between a company and its employees and consumers.
The new word of mouth expert will be the person who starts a discussion inside a company and then let’s the discussion proceed from there.

  • Doug Rushkoff has always got good insight on the interplay between commerce and technologically mediated communication. Way to keep it real Doug.