I'm reading "Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message," by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba. Its copyright is 2007, but many of the examples are circa 2005, so it's a bit dated, at least for the Internet.
It's basically about how people are using technology - primarily 2.0 technologies - to become a marketing force and what this means for businesses. What's really interesting to me is that many of the stories serve as a morality tale for marketers, public relations people and publicly traded companies who are inclined to ignore the business impact that bloggers and social networking sites can have on their business.
Of course, by now that's old news. But it got me thinking: Maybe the reason companies aren't rushing to embrace 2.0 technologies isn't because the technology is new and unfamiliar. Maybe the problem is just the opposite - business leaders have seen what happens when Web 2.0 users target their business and they aren't happy with the results.
Thus far, the intersection of business and Web 2.0 generally has not been pretty. Consider StarbucksGossip, a hobbyist site that quickly became the place for Starbucks employees to publicly and anonymously air corporate grievances. And then there was the public relations nightmare AOL faced when blogger Vincent Ferrari recorded his frustrating interactions with an AOL customer service representative while trying to cancel his AOL account. He posted the encounter to his blog, where it quickly became viral, much to AOL's chagrin.
There are good stories, but by and large, the book is full of accounts of Web 2.0 technologies used to exact vengeance on unresponsive corporations.
No wonder companies hesitate to invest in Web or even Enterprise 2.0. You just can't be sure what will happen because you can't control the message. And if you do try to control the message, you're likely to face a very public blogger backlash.
It does seem inevitable that there's risk involved with 2.0 technologies, but everything worth doing involves risk. You can sit back and hope no one complains - or you can use 2.0 technologies as a means of tapping fresh ideas and solving problems before they result in lost business.
Here are some resources I've stumbled across recently that might help: