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According to a study by McKinsey, Facebook, Twitter or Youtube could be facing their decline with companies directly approaching clients and consumers, including digital natives and millennials, the favored audience of these channels.

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Close to turning a decade old, and after overcoming their embryonic stage, social media may be on the verge of being slowly replaced by the many corporations and marketing agencies with new resources and a greater capacity to engage consumers with their brands.

Co-creation is the new mechanism that many are choosing to comprehensively incorporate clients, consumers and other stakeholders in the construction of the products and services they offer.

According to McKinsey, this allows companies and brands to achieve greater engagement among consumers, and to involve their employees and all other external talent (possible clients and other loyal stakeholders) revolving around the organization in the transversal formation of new products.

From the active consumer to the creative consumer

Halfway through the last decade companies understood the potential of digital tools such as social media or blogs in creating loyalty among consumers, and creating a two-way communication with them at a lesser cost than with traditional offline advertising.

The adoption of these new channels was however accompanied by uncertainty and internal resistance. Like all new things, and given the lack of previous history, all communication actions where initially based on a “trial and error” model.

Once the initial euphoria had passed and these channels reached their maturity, some analysts believed that their use would begin to decline.

In their place, they envisage a new model—also digital—with a tighter connection between brands and consumers, pursuing not only consumer loyalty but also their implication with the brand in creating their value proposition.

Brands have realized that consumers are not passive; they even want to contribute to the creation of the products they are going to buy.

This is a new creative ecosystem where traditional barriers are blurred and companies incorporate external talent using resources like digital communities as a link where the organization itself and its clients interact and create jointly.

This new model also takes into account the fact that consumers have reached technological maturity: they can use digital channels with great ease and are not looking to act like passive agents. In fact, they want to contribute content and their opinions, even in the creation of the products they will end up buying.

Whereas brands traditionally looked to find relevant public figures, using specific budgets, as predictors of their products in digital environments, they now want consumers themselves to speak positively about their products.

On the other hand, brands wish to empower consumers: they are interested in their tastes and preferences, want to satisfy their demands in greater detail and seek to communicate with them in an open, non-hierarchic, democratic and transparent environment.

This collaborative model reinforces the pairing brand-consumer, allows future buyers to compile everything a product should have and reduce their time to market.

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Caption: Mutua Madrileña, with Soy Innovador, is one of the companies that has chosen to incorporate their clients in co-creation processes.

Nike, Lego, Starbucks or Mutua Madrileña, in Spain, are some success stories of co-creation with clients through ideas crowdsourcing. This is a growing trend and is, somehow or other, on the agenda for the coming three or four years of 47% of the managers McKinsey spoke to for their study.

The search for digital and creative profiles is already one of the priorities for these managers. Co-creation with clients can expand the action radius for brands and, above all, may achieve the incorporation of external talent under their flag.

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