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Internet Marketing, Social Media & the Prosumer

An empowered consumer, the prosumer is one who "is highly knowledgeable about products and services and can play a key role in improving these products and services" (Diffley et al., 2011). And, in the digital information age, social media is the perfect platform in which to develop and engage these highly educated consumers.

All of us are familiar with social media such as Facebook and Twitter; however, it is the unique characteristics of these technologies that have, in part, developed the sophisticated prosumers of today. As Diffley et al. (2011) state, prosumers are not a new breed. Nonetheless, with social media, consumers can access, interact and share like never before. This means that knowledge, ideas, opinions and attitudes about products, services, brands, employees and businesses are also transmitted like never before.

Who, What & When?: The Online Prosumer

  • There has been a power shift from the business to the consumer.
  • The prosumer has control over / completely rejects intrusive or unscrupulous marketing.
  • They possess an increased awareness and cautiousness of products, services and brands.
  • They inform and educate the business about what they require.
  • They expect feedback to be taken seriously.
  • The marketing message is being partly controlled by the prosumer. That is, it is no longer totally controlled by the business.
  • Consumers are able to form powerful, collective online communities and promote consensus to the detriment of business.
  • Genuine engagement between business and consumer in order to build a relationship is highly valued by the prosumer.
  • Prosumers desire authentic and meaningful communication that builds trust and rapport.

So, What Does This Mean for Business?

There are two main implications of the online prosumer for business. The first is that when marketing online, the business must cater to the characteristics of the prosumer. Marketing, especially via social media sites, must be adapted toward the all-important prosumer. If not, time, effort and marketing investment dollars are essentially being wasted. Secondly, business must not see the empowered prosumer as a monster. Instead, they are a resource. Their feedback, comments and online chatter can be used to improve and strengthen products, services and brands.

The social media prosumer can be one of business' greatest assets.


  • Diffley, S., Kearns, J., Bennett, W. and Kawalek, P. (2011). Consumer Behaviour in Social Networking Sites: Implications for Marketers, Irish Journal of Management. 30(2):47.

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