The recent release of Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba offers a collection of anecdotes about the impact of individuals in non-traditional marketing roles. While the subtitle is "when people are the message" they are also often the medium.
"Citizen marketers create what could be considered marketing content on behalf of people, brands, products, or organizations. ... They are on the fringes, driven by passion, creativity, and a sense of duty. Like a concerned citizen."
The work lists out four types of 'citizen marketers':
- Filters aggregate information, usually without analysis, and pass it on.
- Fanatics add analytics and a cause to their work.
- Facilitators create communities in a way that an editor or mayor may work.
- Firecrackers create an instant spark for their contribution and occasionally themselves.
It doesn't take a great leap of faith to draw parallel to the concept of citizen soldiers, an idea dating back quite a while where ordinary people come together to fight a common cause. In neither case are they mercenaries -- those hired to do the work of others.
The recent phonecam example of Saddam's execution blurs the boundary between citizen marketer and citizen soldier.