Prosumer is not a new buzz word, but it has been around for quite some time, say around 30 odd years. A prosumer is a person in post-industrial society who combines the economic roles of producer and consumer; it is a term that was coined by futurologist, Alvin Toffler in his book The Third Wave, according to Wikipedia. For example, making your own clothes or hanging your own wallpaper as Toffler defines. However, elements of this are being adapted in modern day businesses. This can include going to a burrito place and essentially building your own burrito. It isn’t too costly; it is time efficient and generates some sort of satisfaction. Marketers have clearly managed to embrace the “prosumption” movement and monetise it.
Moreover, prosumption is very relevant when it comes to Web 2.0 and social media networks like Twitter. I am sure most of you are aware of what Twitter is, but for those who don’t: it allows users to update their status (tweet) in 140 characters or less. This form of social media is defined as micro-blogging and contains tweets from humour, news, opinions, daily personal updates and links. Users get to choose who they want to follow, and have their own followers. They are able to sort their tweets by hashtags (#) for a topic string, directly message other users, reply to other users’ tweets (@username) and retweet information. There is no expected reciprocity to follow people who follow you. Twitter is an extensive online community estimating 18.2 million users (Marwick & Boyd, 2010)
Twitter is part of the Web 2.0 and coincides with a subtler version of online prosumption. Consumers produce and consume tweets by updating their status, commenting on their own and others’ tweets and by retweeting. Thus, creating a prosumer society online. However, it relies on everyday active consumption (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010). Research conducted by Marwick & Boyd (2010) discovers that users tweet for many reasons, for their followers, their friends but also for themselves. They tweet about things they want to read, look back upon later on and some express their tweets are like diary entries. Thus, by Twitter users being their own audience in many cases and by both producing and consuming their Twitter entries coincide with the online prosumer society.
Due to this online prosumer society, it has had many effects on business and marketing. It has reversed the traditional communications model, created a form of online relationship marketing and become a part of online identity. It has created a faster form of word-of-mouth and ultimately has become a marketer’s dream. I will be discussing all these topics in the next few weeks within the context of Twitter.