Below is an abstract for a proposed new book chapter, I would appreciate any comments and suggestions. Thanks, Nick
Traditional approaches to marketing and communications are being broken down across commercial and public policy domains. One-way advertising and top-down public campaigns are becoming less effective than in the past. Changes in technology, including the rapid expansion of access to the Internet, mobile phones and social media, have enabled people to connect in new ways and interact with an intensity not seen before. Along the way, traditional forms of influence have been challenged, including the rise of so-called “strangers with experience” and word-of-mouth marketing. For decades, especially since Muniz and O’Guinn (2001) and others introduced the idea of the brand community, practitioners and researchers have worked to understand how groups of people form around their products, services and behaviors. The success of commercial campaigns like “The Old Spice Guy” and public ones like Australia’s “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign on sun protection show that people’s need to feel connected to their communities helps drives people’s choices, decisions and behaviors. Understanding this is essential to the success of commercial and social brands.
Community psychology, particularly the work based on the concept of a “sense of community”, has a significant contribution to make in this area. Earlier work has established the Sense of Community Index (SCI) as a robust measure of the psychological sense of community of a member towards a nominated group (Chavis, Lee, & Acosta, 2008; Fisher, Sonn, & Bishop, 2002; Glynn, 1981; McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Sarason, 1974; Tartaglia, 2006). Recent work has shown that a sense of community is a predictor of social and behavior change (Finlayson, 2007; Graham, 2011; Hystad & Carpiano, 2012; Xu, Perkins, & Chow, 2010). This chapter will focus on understanding the sense of community and its influence on brands in the commercial and public domains. This will help governments, non-profits and businesses to better understand how a community influences people’s choices, decisions and behaviors – and improve their efforts to make their brands successful.