The Cluetrain Manifesto is ancient by the standards of the Web, it was written back in 1999, by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger. A printed version was put out by Persus Books the next year, in 2000. But, I believe that it is still enlightening and very pertinent today.

The Cluetrain Manifesto is a set of 95 statements or theses that were intended to identify the changes that were then happening in regards to business and the new marketplace that has been created by the mass popularization of the Internet.

For example:

  1. Markets are conversations.
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  3. Conversations among human begins sound human. They are conducted in human voice.
  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.
  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

There are 88 more of these, some of the statements are more of a punch than others but, they are all great reminders of what social media marketing needs to keep in mind today. The ideas that these statements represent are more important than ever and you will find many of them echoed by experts in online marketing and social media marketing today.

Many companies have stretched themselves out into the social media space and are trying to navigate the waters of the social marketplace today. Kudos to them and especially kudos to those are doing so responsibly and really contributing to the Web. However, there are still many holdouts that cling on to traditional marketing, both in messaging and medium. Oh, this is dangerous!

But beware-this doesn’t just mean that big corporations and companies need to evolve and improve. You do too.

Anyone communicating on the Web needs to remember that their messages are going out to individual people, often just like them. There is no longer a faceless mass. The same leveling of the playing field that the Web has provided also, gives us the means to really connect with each other as individuals. And that is what people are expecting, real communication that speaks to them.

There is so much that is beautiful about the new social marketplace the ability it gives us to communicate with one another on a whole new level. These mechanisms give us the opportunity to reach out and touch thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people (or more) almost instantly. But, these opportunities require us to exercise the utmost integrity and understanding for our audience.

Integrity is another key message of the Cluetrain Manifesto.

In fact, the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto can be broken down into a smaller number of useful subdivisions:

  1. Markets are Conversations
  2. Hyperlinks Subvert Hierarchy
  3. Connection between the new markets and companies
  4. Organizations entering the marketplace
  5. Marketing and Organizational Response
  6. Intranets and the impact to organization control and structure
  7. New Market Expectations

If any of this has intrigued you or caused you to say ‘aha, that makes sense’, then take a moment and visit the Cluetrain site. You may be up-to-date and have read the latest in social media marketing but, a ride on the Cluetrain will still reward you with either reminders of, or new information that you need to know.