Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang Babbles About Communities

Posted on April 10, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

Thanks to the drama between FastCompany’s Shel Israel and 1938media’s Loren Feldman, I came across .

If my past criticisms of Forrester’s “research” on the world of social media haven’t been enough to demonstrate just how asinine some of the social media hyperbole is, going through the painful process of watching Israel’s “interview” of Owyang should do the trick.

In short, much of Owyang’s commentary is essentially unintelligible and the majority of the rest is filled with so much common sense as to be worthless to a semi-intelligent viewer.

An anonymous commenter pointed out some of the “gems” that Owyang provides:

“They [participants] have control over a lot of stuff.”

“They [your competitors who] do know how to make conversations and talk openly using these social tools, will do well.”

“Community is another word for market place.”

“Should companies build or join companies? … I was really just talking about the tools.”

“Shel: Should I have a conversation with a Coke bottle on Twitter? Jeremiah: pregnant pause .. nervous laugh”

“Social Networking is really hot.”

Comments I found precious include:

This is a new world where they don’t understand how to let go to gain control.

The way corporations interact internally, the structure, the way they’re designed, the way success metrics are done, it’s not conducive to understanding how community happens.

The ones that don’t get it, that end up doing copyright violations or suing people or saying “We don’t talk to bloggers,” they end up missing out on what’s happening.

It’s like saying I’m not going to partake in my marketplace. It’s very challenging.

I’m not having a conversation with a database. I’m having a conversation with Julio.

You need to be really good communicators and that means you need to actually, you know, practice exactly, you know, what you’re going to be telling me, what you’re going to be presenting so that means you have to have a message. Leave the marketing hyperbole at home. I don’t want to hear how you’re best of class, you know, becuase we’re going to ask you what class is that. I don’t want to hear that you’re, you know, industry-best leader because we’re going to ask which industry is that. You need to differentiate yourself from the other guys. You tell me how you’re solving a customer problem, you need to tell how you’ve, uh uh, how a customer came to you with a problem and what did you did to fix it and what are the ending measurable results.

That last one must have caused a million epiphanies across the marketing world. How Owyang was able to provide such an easy-to-understand overview of the normally difficult-to-understand concept of basic marketing communication is beyond me. Israel’s praise for Owyang at the end of the segment is certainly well-deserved.

Sarcasm aside, I especially loved Owyang’s discussion of the difference between a “marketing manager” and a “community manager.”

I find it funny that people like Owyang use the phrase “community manager.” After all, the definition of a “manager” is “one who handles, controls, or directs.” Given that Owyang and his cohorts tell companies that they are no longer in charge and need to cede “control,” it’s ironic that the phrase “community manager” is used and that such a role is even promoted. After all, if the community is in control, what good is a manager?

I personally prefer the phrase “community liason.” that the demand for “community managers” will decline in 2009 and that by 2010, at least 150,000 “community liasons” will be employed in the United States alone. My upcoming $279 report, “The Rise of the Community Liason,” will be out soon.

I also find it amusing that two of the top community managers Owyang names in the interview work for Microsoft and Dell - companies that don’t have the best reputation with the “community.” Clearly they’re having a hard time managing the community. Of course, that will change once these companies replace their “community managers” with “community liasons.”

At the end of the day, if this interview reflects an interview with a social media “expert,” the social media “community” should be very concerned.

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6 Responses to “Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang Babbles About Communities”

  1. Dennis on April 10th, 2008 1:43 pm


  2. Morgan on April 11th, 2008 1:31 am

    This stuff is just getting harder and harder to read. It’s like watching that e-Dreams movie in real life with none of the laughs.

  3. antje wilsch on April 11th, 2008 2:45 pm

    emarketer charges $695….

  4. Dude, You Must Think I’m Stupid : The Drama 2.0 Show on June 6th, 2008 12:07 am

    […] When it came time to demonstrate the tangible impact social media was having on Dell, Binhammer chose to explain how “conversations and online connections are helping us become the most green tech company” through a “case study” by none other than Forrester Research’s Jeremiah Owyang. […]

  5. Lawrence on July 30th, 2008 1:55 am

    Last year I joined Jeremiah’s web strategy Facebook group to discuss just that (

    I left when I realised that every discussion, thought and cure to uncurable diseases was… social media.

    Having said that, a guy called Jay (who works for posted an interesting comment on branded communities there:

  6. on August 18th, 2008 10:29 am

    […] came the humorous example of Twitter users, including Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang, falling hook, line and sinker for a fake Exxon Mobil Twitter […]

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