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Before brands as online tribes, there were tribes
When we think about brands as online tribes, we need to go back to before mainstream web usage. Brands are as much totems of who we are online as in real-life. The idea of brands as tribes came up when you saw consumption patterns as lifestyle which is why Becks and Newcastle Brown became popular in the early 1990s as consumers could use the bottle with the label outwards to show that they had great taste. It is why people like to wear a Rolex or carry a Louis Vuitton bag. Your tribe is people like you, or people you think are like you.
Brands as online tribes
why Burberry has almost 17 million followers on Facebook. (Unfortunately many of those followers couldn’t afford Burberry apparel but want to be associated with the brand).
Associating with brands help to enforce the way we would like to be perceived. There is a similar kind of phenomenon at play with online communities. We are less of a global village, but instead flock to communities that allow us to self-reinforce our passions in a way that wasn’t possible before.
This is further reinforced by algorithms to provide the audience with only the world view they want to see like Facebook’s news feed algorithm it becomes harder to break out beyond your bubble.
This has impacts from a societal point of view in terms of social mobility and integration of communities. From a brand perspective it provides yet another barrier for a campaign to spread and increases the importance and power of nodes who may have a place in a number of communities.
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