Can the User-Generated “Shell” Be Controlled?

In offering his “shell” metaphor for user-generated blogs and comments during a speech last week (see previous post), science-fiction author Bruce Sterling asked rhetorically whether the perceptions created by such opinions can be controlled.

(Backing up a second: Sterling’s “shell” is the layer of commentary that users apply to products and services online.) Now — can marketers control these opinions?

Sterling’s contention was an unequivocal, “No.”

Some major-league marketers agree. Mark Tutssel, Worldwide Creative Director at Leo Burnett, put it this way, as reported in the Financial Times: “Marketers must learn to let go of the control they think they have over their brand. Once consumers have interacted with brands, they will not go back to being shouted at by marketers.”

Sterling and Tutsell have it right.

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