Ever gotten into a good natured argument with a friend about a fact neither of you are totally certain about? For example, are Baboons monkeys or apes? This simple question, completely unrelated to anything important became a hotly contested item of debate for one CMAEON staffer. She solved the problem the way so many people in her generation do - she checked Wikipedia. Victorious in her assertion that Baboons were monkeys, life went back to normal.
Situations like this probably happen millions of times a day, all around the world. Why?
Today, people are increasingly dependent on the Internet and sites like Wikipedia for instant information. If you have a question, you don't ponder or go to the library - you Google it. Need to check some facts? Settle a bet? Want an opinion on a restaurant? Get an opinion from your peers? Internet. The quest for information isn't a one way transaction where the consumer passively absorbs it from a book, a map or a newspaper anymore - it's a conversation now.
"Can anyone recommend a good Italian restaurant for my big date?" "What's the best route to get to the train station?" "Who is a good realtor?" Our conversations and quests for information drive us online to websites like Wikipedia, Yelp, Twitter and Facebook in a way that's completely new and still evolving.
So what does this mean for businesses, and more importantly, what does this mean for a small business without the money to sink into Google adwords and expensive online marketing campaigns? How can they be successful in this business climate? It means a successful business is able to tap into the conversations that are already happening online.
People constantly want information; therefore, if a business can join the conversation and respond to people with the specific information they want, that business is going to leave a positive impression. It'll become a trusted brand. It'll become the Wikipedia of a specific area of interest. It'll be truly connected to its market and the needs of its customers. That's the power of the Connected Market Space in the Age of Wikipedia.
Photo: Cartoonist Bill Amend's somewhat sarcastic take on the power of Wikipedia - from Ross Mayfield's Flickr (licensed under Creative Commons.)