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Co-creating with customers. Give it a whirl.

There has been a lot of talk about revolts lately from serious political movements like Libya and Egypt to important, but less life threatening revolts like the Union struggle and even the NFL...which is important I suppose if you are a huge Colts fan like my husband. I would argue that consumers have been on a revolt of their own for the last few years using social media as a tool, but unlike the Middle East unrest, it has been easy for corporations to turn their heads and pretend it isn't going on.

Here is what I believe consumers are fighting:

- One sided marketing messages that are being forced down their throats at in opportune times (ie - uninteresting ads in the middle of your favorite TV show)

- Hearing recommendations or benefits of a product/service  from the same company who is selling it. (of course you'll say good things)

- Not having a voice. (will this company ever respond?)

Along comes social media and suddenly consumers can connect and share opinions, recommendations and experiences easier than ever before. They also have unprecedented access to companies and organizations without having to call into a 1-800 number or being lost in a sea of  "contact us" emails.

Despite the fact this has been going on for a few years now most companies are still spending a large amount of money on traditional advertising. While there's no doubt that TV or magazines reach a ton of people, producing ads the same way you've always done it doesn't really cut it.

So who is doing it well?

Kraft's experiment with Mac & Cheese and Twitter was a nice attempt at co-creating with consumers to produce a spot (the company took a tweet about Mac & Cheese and formed a commercial around it).  While I'm sure there are some tweaks and learnings it was the most interesting mac and cheese commercial I've seen in a while and they still got the fancy glossy food shot at the end.

Old Spice's response to consumers via short videos was engaging and fresh, not to mention extremely buzz worthy.

Jimmy John's is putting customer quotes on its outdoor boards.

Miracle Whip is enlisting everyday joes to proclaim their love or hatred for the product via short spots on YouTube.

Nationwide is inserting consumers or at least NationPam into its commercial (kind of awkward, but props for trying).

Companies that are taking that first step forward are letting the consumer have a say from the get go. Like in any revolt or conflict there are bound to be negotiations, new ways of looking at things and chances to  give and take. Think about ways you can let your customers or members help co-create. It's a new era and I have a feeling that those who play nicely will be nicely rewarded.