Before the invention of writing, stories were passed down from generation to generation. Only the fittest survived and if it wasn’t interesting it simply died. It may have been told over a camp fire, from father to daughter, it may have been told at home or in a public square. Transmission was face to face, everyone owned the idea and these ideas would spread across many touch points.

Then, in the middle of the 20 th century the oral tradition was completely turned on its head. It suddenly became the survival of the richest. In the broadcast era all you needed was money and transmission became one to many. We didn’t ask anyone to own the idea all we asked them to do was consume them.

Then along came social media and suddenly we’re back in the era of the oral tradition where ideas only spread if they’re interesting. The consumer no longer has to rely on marketing messages from companies or indeed opinions from experts. In the age of social media the consumer seeks opinion and guidance from their peers and members of their network.

The newly connected consumers have made three basic demands:

  1. They demand being involved in creating products and services.
  2. They demand that their concerns values are addressed just as much as their wants and needs.
  3. They demand that as business owners we acknowledge that the balance of power has changed.

So the big challenge for business owners is to find a position which can draw on three factors; mind, heart and values which allow them to enter and participate in the global conversation where the relationship between the consumer and producer is equal and not hierarchical.