I’m going to tell you something that they probably don’t talk about in advertising and marketing classes. You’re not in control of your product or in control of your brand. Your users vote with their feet. They decide your fate.
What amazes me is that so many companies, organizations, and people think they can tell their users what to think. There is this idea that all you have to do is put out the magic marketing campaign and everything will be better. Reality just doesn’t work that way.
Your users are going to talk about your product. They’re going to talk about your brand. The question is do you wanna be part of the conversation?
This is going to take time. It’s going to take time away from your other initiatives. You can start a blog but it’s not going to magically write itself. You can get an online forum but it’s not going to start itself. I think you’ll see that building community ultimately pays off.
One of the best examples of this is Digg. They listen to their community and let them take substantial ownership of the product and the brand.
Digg recently instituted some changes to their comments. People didn’t like some of the changes. Kevin Rose asked for everyone’s feed back and listened to what people had to say. They changed the Digg comments again. They knew it was their users that they were there to serve so it was best to listen to what they wanted.
Even a more extreme case is back in May 2007, Digg users were spreading the HD-DVD copy protection key around the site. Digg quickly took it down. There was an uproar. There users spoke and said we want to spread the key wherever they want to put it. While this may not be the action I would’ve taken, Digg changed course, decided to get behind their users, and let them spread the key as they wish. This endeared Digg even more to its fan base.
You may ask, “What has this gotten Digg?” Well their numbers have been consistently going up.
The lesson of the day is that you have to listen to your users. Have a conversation with your users. You users are in control of your fate.