We vs They

Jennifer Rice has posted a piece at “Corante”:http://www.corante.com/brandshift/archives/2005/03/22/behind_the_curtain.php that nicely summarizes the move towards organizational transparency that the blog phenomenon is pushing. In it, she quotes an article from “A VC”:http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2005/03/apple_becomes_a.html that describes the differences between a “we” company and a “they” company.

This concept was first put forward by Dave Weinberger, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto. The idea, to quote from A VC:

bq. Microsoft is the poster child for a “they” company.
Craigs List is the poster child for a “we” company.

Ms Rice says “Transparency will happen to your company whether you like it or not.” I rather happen to agree. What blogs have done is allow consumers to gain an foothold in the general mindshare an organization holds.

mindshare graphic

The premise here is that an org has a public image. This image has largely been self-created; that is, through advertising, marketing, and PR, the org has shaped an idea in the public mind. I’m calling this image *mindshare*.

What has suddenly happened is that the public has gained a way to affect _any_ org’s mindshare. How? Blogs. Let’s look at an example.

I’m shopping for a new digital camera. I’ve got my search narrowed down to a couple of models. I google “canon sd-300”:http://www.google.ca/search?q=canon+sd-300&sourceid=mozilla-search&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official and the second site on the list is a blog! (note: I’m stretching the term blog a bit here to include pretty well any single-consumer driven site). In this particular case, my decision has been reinforced. But it could just as easily have been swayed the other way. Here’s the kicker: *there is nothing Canon can do to affect those search results.*

How many of us make buying decisions without consulting the web nowadays? Of course, this applies to ideas and opinions as well as consumer goods. Being a “we” company becomes incredibly important in the face of this new paradigm. It also becomes increasingly difficult. Read the comments at the two sites mentioned at the top of this article, and you’ll find a great deal of debate as to whether or not Apple (the “we” poster boy) is in fact a “we”, or just a cleverly disguised “they”.

I predict that the slice of mindshare the blogosphere holds will grow at an exponential rate. Earning the respect of trusted bloggers will (and is) tantamount to positive mindshare. So how does an org go about doing that?

For that, dear reader, you’ll have to wait! Work beckons…