To me, one of the most important bits was about the growing role of online communities in everyday life — and therefore their growing importance for marketing. If people do indeed now trust “people like me” more than any other authorities (per this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, much discussed yesterday at the conference), than one of marketing’s top jobs is to build and contribute to those rich online communities where people gather for business, education, entertainment, etc. It’s all about content that contributes to the conversation — and it’s critical, as others have pointed out, to be transparent and totally above board along the way.
Some folks in the audience suggested that there is a difference between producing content for customers and potential customers, on the one hand, and participating in conversations and communities, on the other. The implication was that if you’re merely producing content, you’re stuck in the old broadcast mode and failing to see the new reality that conversation is king. But unless customers are purely interested in idel chit-chat, though (which I suppose some might be), don’t the two go hand in hand? Most customers are interested in deliberative conversation; they’re trying to get something done. For the most part, then, you better have something substantial to contribute to the conversation.