One of the scary realities of the digital age has been the degree to which brands have had to hand ownership over to people.
Once the brand held the power and controlled the message, the brand could tell you what it wanted to via advertising, the brand could control editorial and do all it could to get professional reviews.
Life was easy, you want to be considered to be a friendly airline, put it in the ad.
The internet changed all that, normal people now became mass influencers, a bad few bad reviews on yelp, a disgruntled post a brands Facebook page, a promoted tweet complaining about lost luggage were far more powerful per view than the messages you put out.
It doesn't matter how friendly you want people to think you are, a brand now is what a brand does, and what people then go on to say about it.
A brand nows lives in peoples heads, it's created and propagated by the people.
Most brands have embraced this change.
And after all it's Peer to Peer reviews and the trust that it's created that have arguably been the entire reason for the success of the sharing economy and sites like Airbnb.
But a few things now show that perhaps it’s time to address the balance.
My guess is that over the coming months we will see some
battles between brands and people, I think there is a sense that people now wield too much power.
Expect to see over the coming periods the brands fighting back and addressing the fact that individuals and singular circumstances should not be able to go unchallenged.
- Walmart fights back on with it's "no free shots" message- No Free Shots: How Walmart Responds to Social Media Haters - Digiday
- Yelp's main ( yet unspoken) business model is asking brands to pay money to try to control the reviews of customers.
- Many PR companies have disaster response digital teams ready to come into combat and mitigate the damage that can be done by one angry person.
It will be interesting times to see what happens when brands fight back for control of the message.