Beyond Bedlam: How Consumers and Brands Alike Are Playing the Web

Open access

Abstract

Effective social brand engagement can result from marketers “getting in the game” by playing with consumers. Play can take many different forms and can refer to different aspects. It can produce winners and losers, for example when marketers conquer the consumer’s wish to be let alone. It can refer to the collaboration among players to achieve, if not exactly a common purpose, at least separate purposes with joint resources. Or it can refer to conduct that bemuses and befuddles, leaving even the marketer unsure about the purpose of the game, except that he will be better known. It is apparent that people want to play with brands, and their managers must therefore decide if they want to actively offer participation and surrender to whatever form consumer play may take. However, brand managers should be prepared for surprising turns. Attention and consumer engagement are the prizes at stake for taking the venture, awards that are increasingly difficult to gain with more traditional communication campaigns.