Bottom-up questions

June 2, 2010

I want to thank those among you who have communicated some questions : bottom-up communication in practice! This enables me to deepen some elements for you all.

1) I don’t find anything about “networked”.. is it “being a part of a network”?

“Networked” refers to the type of communication we are now in (“networked communication”) and to the resulting fact that most people today are networked and networking (“networked people / networked audience”). This is the third step in the continuum I have presented at different times, e.g. here:

“Society, media, consumption and media use are changing. Advertising must follow suit and evolve/adapt… or disappear. It is doing so, moving on a continuum:

* traditional marketing communication: push – attention – interruption – one-way – top-down
* permission marketing: inbound – tradigital – pull
* conversation marketing: social engagement – value-based – participation (”

In other words, the continuum from “top-down” over “bottom-up” to “networked”, as you can see from several slides we used, e.g.:



2) I don’t understand why we have to look for bottom up AND permision comm instead of bottom up and top down comm?
I am not sure I see what you mean. What matters is understanding a change, a shift in communication paradigms, in the very conception of marketing communication.

It used to be a matter of power detained by institutions and companies only, who had the money to communicate through expensive media (cfr. above the line). That was top-down. It was interruptive and definitely one-way.This eventually led to clutter and to a lack of interest and attention from the “target”. On the web, this was a “web 1.0”, “destination web”, “shopwindow sites”. Here, communication is one-way.

A real change was made possible through the emphasis on “permission marketing”. Marketing communication that tries hard not to interrupt (and irritate) but to wait for an invitation from the audience. This required more than formated advertising messages; it called for an added value, which the audience wants to get, or is at least ready to accept, for some reason. This already meant losing some power. A company can decide on its own when, how, how often, how long (…) it interrupts your television evening or surf session or radio programme or cinema experience (…) as long as it pays (much) money for that. But it cannot monitor the attention you pay to those advertising efforts. The idea with permission is that a corporate message is bound to be more (cost-)efficient if it is wanted, if it is asked for, if it is “permitted”. Here, we are in two-way communication. This is bottom-up. On the whole, this change is more a matter of attitude, of mindset. It is facilitated by interactive media, but can work with traditional media too, e.g. offering a coupon in a press ad. The change is not in the technology, but in the attitude. Here, communication is two-way. This is closer to conversation.

While this change was happening, a complete technological turnaround progressively took place in interactive technology, on the web, as it was becoming more and more truly interactive. On this evolving web, communication is no longer one- or two-way, it is multi-way, it is networked. The advertiser loses even more control, because a network has no centre from which the communication starts. In top-down the company could start a communication process, and it could end it. Because what people said about it remained confidential, remained limited to their off-line network, which for most people had no impact. Only influential people, only institutions, only competitors could answer back in the same type of (traditional) media, because they also had financial power. The shift in networked media, is (i) that the need for financial power has disappeared and (at the same time) (ii) that what you say there has (potentially) as much resonance as what the big players, the big companies say. Right now, the Twitter profile that criticises BP for its management of the crisis (BPglobalRP) was set up free (no financial power needed) and has more followers than the real BP profiles, and is much discussed even in traditional news media (= resonance). This is because a network structure is completely different from a linear structure (cfr. slides). One element it enables is the network effect. If you offer value, people will not only “permit” you to communicate to them (= permission marketing), they will also start spreading this in their network. They even do it anyway, spontaneously. And it is impossible to stop them, as it is impossible to withdraw an unwanted video from the web.

3) I found a text from a specialist who says that social capital and whuffie are not the same concept… now you ask for social capital AKA whuffie.

We have used this type of concepts in a general way. Broadly speaking, they refer to the fact that participative communication works differently, as it is networked. It is not based on money. You cannot buy people’s attention, you cannot buy positive word-of-mouth. Money is no longer what gives you power in networked / interactive / social media. What does then? The relationship you build in those networks, the trust in you, the trust in the contents you provide, the trust in what you say, the trust people have that you are genuine. This trust is something you cannot buy. You can only build it over time, progressively, by trial and error. And only if you start building your online reputation.

Tara Hunt calls it ‘Whuffie’ in her book ‘The Whuffie Factor’; Bourdieu already used the concept of ‘social capital’ back in the 70s. As the context is very different, specialists may want to point out differences. We have only used them as tools to understand what is happening right now in the paradigm shift in broad terms.

could you help me please?

I hope this helps you understand these concepts better, or confirm what you thought. Besides, it gives me the opportunity to emphasize that the concepts we will start from are there as a springboard for a real exchange of information where you will show me how well you have grasped the ongoing evolution. They are there as a starting point. In the social capital / whuffie example, I would be listening to how you use the concepts to illustrate the evolution, not to factual differences between Bourdieu and Hunt. As a matter of fact, if you did that, you’d go further than the course requires.

4. Last question: what do the concepts “You” and “People” mean?

YouGobé - Emotional Branding

They are indeed connected. YOU was presented as the new actor of the web 2.0 evolution by Time Magazine. “People” has been suggested to replace “target / consumer” in terms of mindset, in terms of perspective for markeing communication, e.g. by Mark Gobé in Emotional Branding. These two concepts show there is a change in perspective both in terms of media – they are now interactive/participative/networked – and in terms of marketing communication. In both respects, “you-the-people” have become the focus and the central point. This is both due to the fact and results in a shift of power from institutions / companies to anybody.

What I suggest here are starting points to develop an answer. Each of the above can lead us to other concepts, other illustrations, other points of view. These are the building blocks of your answers for the exam.

Do not hesitate to put up more questions or suggestions, or keep me informed of your worries so I can try to put things right 😉

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1 Comment. Leave new

Thank you for this! I am sure it will help ! 🙂


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