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Blog or Blackmail?

August 4, 2006

Countless articles and blogs have noted that there is an emerging shift in power to control information and image from large corporations, to individual customers who blog.  For years, hapless consumers have endured unfriendly policies, indifferent employees, and endless time wasting red tape when dealing with large companies, institutions and government.   Consumers who are indignant with the cell phone company, shopping supercenter, or local oil change business have found collective voice via blogs, forums, and pro consumer websites.

Companies have taken note of this, and are aware of the positive or negative effect that consumer postings may have on their brand image and customer base.  Companies are not only tracking this, but in many cases, reacting to the electronic ink.

Trading on this attention, some bloggers have begun to leverage their position and readership to threaten and bully companies into providing concessions and perks to them in order to curry favor in their postings.   Bloggers appear temporarily immune from the constraints of traditional journalism and ethics.

While I would agree the playing field has long needed some leveling, bloggers may do well to consider the long term consequences of their collective actions.  Ultimately, they may be able to coerce companies into adopting new rules and policies that are unprofitable, and to restore balance, product choices and offerings may become fewer, more jobs may be lost to globalization, and the trickle down effect through the economy may come round to bite bloggers in ways they hadn’t banked on.

Consider the changes to affordability and access to medical care that has been driven in the last 10-20 years by consumers seeking compensation for any mistake or malpractice, spurred on by trial lawyers.  HMOs are raising rates and lowering coverage.  Specialists in many fields are in short supply.  Were the majority of the lawsuit justified?  Probably so.  Were the payouts too high?  Uncertain.  Are we happy with direction we are headed?  Probably not.  

Collective, online power is still evolving, but the possible long term consequences of consumer and corporate behavior is foreseeable.   Consumers and corporations would do well to ensure their behavior is ethical, and that a symbiotic existance is cultivated.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2010 12:42 pm

    Hello, my name is Kirsty Clegg and I am a 3rd year Advertising & Marketing Communications student from Bournemouth University. I need to recruit consumers who show a vested interest in the following areas; online advertising, Coca – Cola online, Branded Content and online power of consumer.
    Consequently these are the search terms I used to find your blog and am therefore keen to talk to you. This research is for my dissertation and so imperative to my degree.
    Firstly, if you would be interested in airing your opinions about said areas please take a couple of minutes to fill out this questionnaire ( simply to determine if your demographics fit with my research.
    I would be incredibly grateful if you can take the time out to help with this, feel free to find me through my wordpress (
    Yours sincerely,

    Kirsty Clegg

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