Ever since Robert D. Putnam’s iconic monologue—Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community—in 2000 on the reduction of civil participation and social capital in the United States there has been a lively debate on the state of the American participatory democracy. Dated before the social media revolution, Putnam’s work highlighted the social capital-eroding role of media in American society; interestingly, however, social media subsequently enabled the combination of media consumption and participation—no matter if this is for a personal, political, or commercial nature.
While the link between a participatory democracy and business might seem far-fetched to you, we need only to direct our attention to the commercially oriented Comedy Central TV network, and its political satire programs, to comprehend the inherent connection between political interest and political participation on the one hand, and commercial entertainment on the other hand. Although there is much to be said about the role of the entertaining programs as The Daily Show or the Colbert Report in American democracy, both programs arguably have found interesting way to spur social participation in the past—just think of “The Rally to Restore Sanity” a couple of years ago. The Daily Show, however, recently demonstrated its ability to foster participation—although certainly not in the way Putnam had in mind—while promoting the commercial goals of the network and its partners.
In March, the political satire program decided to use the concept of co-creation to maintain its presence and entertaining value over a small broadcasting break. Using a political campaign commercial from Senator (Rep.) Mitch McConnell, the Daily Show host John Stewart included a segment where the show displayed segments from this commercial on the tune of ridiculing music. Continue reading #McConnelling: Participatory Democracy & Commercial Co-Creation.→
In an attempt to sell products at a much higher price than the market, and at the same time have people line up to purchase its products, some sites have developed how the traditional auction system works to involve large crowds of people and create a win-win situation for everyone.
One of the most notable Dutch websites in this aspect is ProductVeiling.com. The website puts a certain product for the general public to bid on. Each product auction has an expiry time, every time someone bids up, the expiry time is increased by 5-30 seconds to give the chance for others to counteroffer. The bids can be done manually or automated. Where a person can limit the number of bids he is willing to make and the systems bids for him/her in the last second of the desired item auction. Every bid costs the user 1 point, the point is worth 50 cents. Continue reading ProductVeiling.com: Selling to the crowd→
With the total amount of social media fans across different platforms (Twitter: 51 million followers (1), Facebook: 66 million likes (2) and Instagram: 15 million followers (3)) exceeding the population of Japan (which currently has around 127 million inhabitants), Justin Bieber is arguably the most popular person on the planet. With this popularity come a lot of perks: the best perks according to regular human beings are the endorsement deals that the Canadian superstar signs on a regular basis. One of these deals was to design his personal nail polish called ‘One Less Lonely Girl’. Certainly this was worth around $12,500,000 (4).
Since almost all major brands engage in this behavior, these celebrity endorsement deals must give the brand something in return. However, not every company has a spare $163.75 million in cash to endorse athletes (or other celebrities) like Nike does (5). So what can the smaller companies do to get the same exposure as these large global brands? Because those smaller companies can simply not afford to sponsor the superstars of today, it seems that they can only hope and pray that somebody like Justin Bieber enters their store and purchases their product. If he then writes an objective review about the product on one of his social media platforms, a logical consequence seems that the owner of the smaller company will be able to retire at an early age.