The woman sitting next to you at Starbucks focused intently on her laptop may just be determining the next big thing.
In coffee houses, offices, homes, dorm rooms, and airport lounges around the world, millions of people use laptops and cell phones to become today's new publishers and broadcasters. Armed with only a broadband connection, these regular citizens are exercising enormous influence on culture and what we buy.
Who are they? What motivates them? In their provocative new book, Citizen Marketers, Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba explore the ramifications of today's burgeoning social media. As everyday people increasingly create content on behalf of companies, brands, or products—to which they have no official connection—they are turning traditional notions of media upside down. Collaborating with others just like themselves, they are forming ever-growing communities of enthusiasts and evangelists using videos, photos, songs, and animations, as well as the "user-generated media" of blogs, online bulletin boards, and podcasts. From the rough to the sophisticated, their creations are influencing companies' customer relationships, product design, and marketing campaigns—whether the companies participate willingly or not.
Whether freeing Fiona Apple, building buzz for Snakes on a Plane, or denouncing Dell Hell, citizen marketers are democratizing traditional notions of communication and marketing, even entire business models. Citizen Marketers examines some of the early winners and losers in this new culture of business, as well as some of its most noted constituents.