Tag Archives: Brand Anarchy

Social computing, trust and social capital

Increasingly, people are looking to each other, rather than corporations, for news, guidance, advice and support. A lack of trust in large organisations, and a general sociological move towards bottom-up networks of support has grown in recent years.

Society and computing technologies have influenced each other, and continue to do so. Social computing: from social informatics to social intelligence by Wang et al (2007), consider a move away from information to intelligence in social computing. Large corporations like Amazon and EBay, among others have moved away from what they recommend for you, to what other people have done. Not, ‘here’s what we think you might like’, but, ‘here’s what other customers bought’.

“Netflix’s recent…competition is one indication of the significance and business value of improving recommendation quality.” (Wang at al, 2007)

Many other websites have adopted platforms ‘for the consumer community to share experiences collectively and influence their purchasing behaviour’; for example Vanish, where consumers swap tips on how which of the product range works best for specific stains.


Social media platforms have changed the dynamic between organisations and consumers forcing companies to adopt. Companies can no longer control the discussion about their brand (see Waddington & Earl, 2012 or this old blog post).

In the public sector ‘people are increasingly connecting with online…communities.’ Newman et al (2011)

I believe that the move to online communities is a symptom of what I describe above. Particularly in health where often people who have lived with an illness become the ‘expert’ on their disease, it really makes sense for them to seek advice and support from each other rather than the medical professional. Particularly, as Newman et al found with “emotional support when dealing with difficult health issues.”

I believe that in both the private and public sector ICT and society have influenced each other to create platforms where people’s opinions are of more value than large corporation (for different reasons). Previously my research has been around using social media to enact civil society for improving communication, participation and engagement between communities of individuals and local governments.

Social computing and innovation; creating or reinventing platforms to empower people to share their opinions, knowledge and advice, is an area where I hope to shape my future research. It was interesting to hear Newman’s perspective on the creation of social capital through online health communities.


Newman, M. W., Lauterbach, D., Munson, S. A., Resnick, P., & Morris, M. E. (2011, March). ‘It’s not that i don’t have problems, I’m just not putting them on Facebook: challenges and opportunities in using online social networks for health’. In Proceedings of the ACM 2011 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (pp. 341-350). ACM.

Waddington, S., & Earl, S. (2012). Brand Anarchy: Managing Corporate Reputation. A&C Black.

Wang, F. Y., Carley, K. M., Zeng, D., & Mao, W. (2007). Social computing: From social informatics to social intelligence. Intelligent Systems, IEEE, 22(2), 79-83.

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Brand Anarchy: Nevermind the generation gap!

Where does the future of PR lie?

I read Brand Anarchy this week, after waiting several weeks for the library to have a copy available for loan. Sat comfortably at home, I turned the front cover to reveal the contents page with much anticipation (for one, I had to wait for weeks for the pleasure) and intrigue; this would be the book that would bring it all together. This book would espouse the two most important things in my life at present. Like two arguing parents, to me they seem as if they should be perfectly happy together but they can’t quite get along and puzzling marriage guidance councillors are struggling to find ways for these soul-mates to reconcile and live happily ever after.

Here I refer to public relations and the so-called; social media. See? Even now I am bewildered to why I must refer to them as separate entities. Anyway…

On folding close the final page and laying down the book to rest on my unclean coffee table, being careful to avoid the freshly cast coffee cup ring, my wondering mind was prematurely stopped by thoughts of a generation gap…and worse still: The Sex Pistols (retrospectively, the title may have influenced my caffeine fuelled brain). My initial thoughts were that; I, the converted, had been preached to. The book seemed to prepare the reader for the influx of some immigrant force of social medias that would slowly but surely twist and turn everything one knew about public relations. Why? I thought, do me and my fellow PR students need to be warned about this? Why are people from the older generations trying to forewarn us about the way we communicate?

I stopped myself in my silly little tracks almost at once; took a metaphorical step back, walked into the kitchen, put the kettle on and had a rethink. This book was clearly written by the older generation, for the older generation. Brand Anarchy was written by experienced communications experts to get the rest of the industry up-to-date, up-to-speed and up-to-scratch, with how everyone but they are communicating with each other.

To my generation, and the generations in our wake social media is just an extension of our voice and our hands. We don’t consider the internet to be a media, like the radio or a newspaper; it’s much more than that, and much less to some extent; its natural, organic, and we’re not nostalgic about print because we’ve already seen off our CD’s, minidiscs, and I-pods. The velocity of technological advances is taken for granted, and they fit around our lives, we don’t fit our lives into them.

So, what am I trying to say? What I’m not trying to say is that youth is the way forward, and every PR office should have a philosophy of out with the old, in with the new; there are decades of priceless experience and knowledge and knowing social media is not understanding how it can be used to enhance a brand’s reputation. However, I do think there is a gap. What if the YouTube generation were taught how to get the strategy right, and to understand how social media fits into marketing and corporate communications?

Brand Anarchy is not, as first thought, people in their fifties who listened to the Sex Pistols knowing their parents could never ‘get it’ and then thirty years later trying to convince a teenager to play it on their I-pad. It’s recognition that PR was caught ‘on the hop’ (as the authors repeatedly remind the reader) and if they want the younger generations to listen to them they’d better start singing in the right venues.

What if we looked at it from the other way? How about a book, which takes social media for granted and explains the nuances of reputation building for the social media savvy? Could this be ‘The Son of Share This’?

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