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CrowdCultures & Branding in the age of social media




Traditionally, cultural innovation has emerged from society's margins—from fringe organisations, social movements, and creative circles that questioned dominant norms and customs. Companies and the media served as mediators, disseminating these new ideas to the general public. However, social media has altered everything.

Social media connects previously geographically isolated societies, substantially enhancing the speed and intensity of collaboration. These once-remote groups' cultural impact has become immediate and profound now that they are intensively networked. These new crowdcultures are divided into two types: subcultures, which incubate new beliefs and practises, and art worlds, which pioneer in entertainment.

Today, practically any topic has a thriving crowdculture: espresso, the death of the American Dream, Victorian novels, arts-and-crafts furniture, libertarianism, new urbanism, 3-D printing, anime, bird-watching, homeschooling, and barbeque. Back in the day, these subculturalists had to physically convene and had few options for collective communication: publications and, subsequently, rudimentary Usenet forums and meet-ups.

These subcultures have grown and become more democratic as a result of social media. You may penetrate the heart of any subculture with a few mouse clicks, and participants' intense interactions shift smoothly between the web, real venues, and conventional media. Members are working together to advance new ideas, products, practices, and aesthetics, circumventing mass-culture gatekeepers. Cultural innovators and their early adopter markets have become synonymous with the emergence of crowdculture.

While businesses have placed their trust in branded content for the previous decade, actual data is driving them to reconsider. Corporate logos are rarely visible in YouTube or Instagram channel rankings based on the number of subscribers.

It turns out that customers are uninterested in the material that brands produce. Few people want it in their newsfeed. Most people see it as clutter—as brand spam. When Facebook understood this, it began charging businesses for the placement of "sponsored" material in the feeds of those who were meant to be their followers.

The issue that businesses are facing is structural, not creative. In what we call brand bureaucracies, large corporations arrange their marketing operations in the opposite of creative worlds. They thrive at coordinating and executing sophisticated marketing projects in many global marketplaces. However, when it comes to cultural innovation, this organisational style leads to mediocrity.
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