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You’ve probably heard the news that American Idol garners more votes than the presidential election. While there are some factors to consider in this situation – age, number of times to vote, etc. – there’s something to be said about the power of choice given to audiences. Just a few decades ago, audience participation may have been considered yelling out to the TV, with no opportunity to give feedback or have any control. With the advent of things like reality TV competitions, as well as the boom in social media use over the past few years, the power of the audience has been broadened, and is changing the landscape of marketing and business. Audiences are now actively engaged and connected to their favorite brands, and feel empowered to make a difference. Key Elements Life-Streaming - Using platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, or a blog, a single user can market themselves to be somewhat of a social media star and a recognizable name or face to thousands of strangers they consider to be friends. For example, blogger Heather Armstrong, known better as Dooce, is the owner of the number one personal blog on the Internet. She’s ranked 26th on Forbes’ list of the most influential women in media. The reason for this popularity isn’t about fame or money, though. It’s because they’re normal, regular people who can relate to their audience of other normal, regular users who share similar interests and goals. Users are drawn to these platforms because it allows an outlet that can’t be provided elsewhere. Some may use it for support, to give or receive advice, or to produce creative content they want to share with others. Anyone searching for a way to express themselves – or to join in on the fun of someone else doing the same – can find an audience somewhere on the Internet. Power to Choose - Giving power to the people allows a brand to extend beyond its typical space and employ new tactics to connect customers and audiences together for a cause. Whether it’s leveraging their power to choose the next big star, or logging on to help give money to a good cause, audiences now have much more sway and influence over pop-culture and media, using only the Internet or the telephone. Target recently gave users the opportunity to vote on how they thought the company’s annual charity money should be dispersed, and received more than 250,000 votes on Facebook...

To read more about this pop culture trend, go to Sparxoo, a digital marketing, branding and business developemnt blog.