Collective Intelligence: The best or worst thing to happen to Marketing?

Collective intelligence, which is sometimes referred to as crowd sourcing, is defined as “a phenomenon where a shared or group intelligence emerges from a collaboration and competition of many individuals” (Collective intelligence, 2012). It can also be said that it is “a form of networking enabled by the rise of communications technology, which has enabled interactivity and users generating their own content” (Collective intelligence, 2012). In plain English this simply means that collective intelligence in networked communication which allows individuals and groups to produce content that can be shared with many others, usually via the internet. It is through collective intelligence that human knowledge can be enhanced as it facilitates the interaction among people, allows deep and wide databases, which are filled with information, and promotes participation (Levy, 1997).

While collective intelligence has existed for many decades now, the phenomenon has taken off with the development of the Web 2.0 (Honan, 2012). The Web 2.0 has enabled collective intelligence as it focuses on sharing and producing new content, interacting with others and creating communities, much different to Web 1.0 that focused on authorities providing information for general consumers, without any interaction resulting in a very static webpage (Drumgoole, 2006). The Web 2.0 facilitates the idea of a community through several sites such as social networks including Facebook, blogs, wikis and YouTube, just to name a few. One great example of collective intelligence, which has come about due to the Web 2.0, is Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Wikipedia allows people to edit, contribute and view content of a wide variety of topics (Flew, 2008).

"Web 2.0"

“Web 2.0”

Collective Intelligence has become such an important part of society with most people contributing to blogs or micro blogs, like twitter, and posting information on Facebook on a daily basis. In addition to this the advancement of technology has allowed people to always have access to the internet which enables information to be accessed, shared and consumed at a faster rate then ever before (McKinsey, 2007). With the Web 2.0 playing such a big role in people’s personal lives, there is no doubt that it is and has crossed over into being utilized in the business world. Today collective intelligence can be seen in a majority of occupations particularly those involved in communications. One job in particular that it is being affected by collective intelligence is marketing, however, it is not necessarily for all good reasons.

The use of the Internet is increasingly becoming a more popular medium for marketers to utilize whether it is for advertising, market research or managing and building customer relationships. With the use of the web 2.0 the way marketers are developing campaigns has changed as they are focusing on interaction with consumers and building communities (Kozinets, Hemetsberger & Schau, 2008). These campaigns involved getting consumers to become actively involved in the company and produce their own content as well as interact with the company and other consumers. A great example of this is the user-created Superbowl commercial campaign, developed by Doritos (Baumgarten, 2012). This campaign involved encouraging fans to create their own commercials and upload them to the campaign, crash the super bowl, Facebook page. It then went on further and encouraged people to vote for their favourite, where the winners ad would be played during the Superbowl and to top it off they would the $1 million prize money.

Marketers are also producing Facebook pages, twitter accounts and blogs, along with other things on the web to encourage communication with customers. These sites are becoming a fundamental part of every business marketing plan as they allow consumer a medium for communication. Consumers are constantly encouraged to post on the page, which can promote the company, as well as possibly spark ideas for new inventions (Fitch, 2009).

There, however, is a down side to the use of collective intelligence as now consumers hold more power in what content is released to the public rather then the marketing department holding all control (Fitch, 2009). With consumers having access to all sorts of facilities due to the Web 2.0; such as reviews, blogs, social media sites and videos, they are able to voice their opinion about a brand or product, which if it’s a negative can potentially tarnish the brands reputation. In addition to this, consumers are increasingly looking towards other consumers’ opinions as they regard them to be more reliable then any marketing or advertising efforts (Fitch, 2009). This places even greater control on consumers and therefore poses a problem to marketers in how to deal with and manage any backlash and negative remarks.

Collective intelligence can be a great thing for marketers to use when they can control however consumers are gaining even greater control and are willing to voice there opinion, so for your brands sake you better hope their opinions a good one.


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Additional resources

Jenkins, H. Interactive Audiences? 
The ‘Collective Intelligence’ Of Media Fans. Retrieved from



Transmedia Storytelling: The future of Marketing Communication

Transmedia storytelling, which can also be referred to as multiplatform storytelling, cross-media storytelling or transmedia narrative was a concept crafted up by Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California (Jenkins, 2007). Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as:

A process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.“ (Jenkins, 2007)

In simpler terms transmedia storytelling is the process of where a story is expanded and told through the use of several different media channels. In each of these media platforms the stories are unique and make a new contribution to the main story as a whole. It is also through this process that the stories engage consumer’s attention and expand on their knowledge of the story. In today’s society, this expansion of information is particularly important, as consumers are rapidly becoming hunters and gathers of information, which is facilitated through the use of the Internet (Binkley, 2012).

Most discussion of Transmedia storytelling has been focused on the entertainment industry (Blinkley, 2012). When explaining transmedia story telling, Jenkins particularly looks at the major franchises within the entertainment industry such as The Matrix and Star Wars, however, in my mind the most significant example of transmedia storytelling that I have seen, and personally experience, is the Harry Potter franchise (Jenkins, 2007).

Harry potter is a great example of transmedia story telling which all started back in 1997 when J.K. Rowling released the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Usagi, 2011). Back then Harry potter was just a book about the life of an 11 year old wizard, however, fast forward 15 year later, and it is so much more. Harry potter has now grown into a major franchise containing 7 books, 8 feature films, various website and blog, Pottermore, games, a theme park, music, merchandise and so much more.

Each new media platform has created an expansion of the Harry Potter universe that fans can explore. Though the use of these media platforms, particular websites and related books, Harry Potter fans are able to gain further understanding and knowledge of the Wizarding World and the character within it (Usagi, 2011). They are also able to interact with other fans, where they can gain further information that they may not have found themselves (Jenkins, 2007). With the addition of toys, fan fiction and the theme park consumers are now able to share and create their own stories (Jenkins, 2007). The Harry Potter universe has taken over many platforms, which provides many entry points for new target markets. For example young children may be introduced to Harry Potter through the use of Lego and toys while the people of an older generation may have been introduced to Harry Potter through the novels and movies (Jenkins, 2007). Even though Harry Potter is now over and there are no new books or films people are still creating new content and finding new ways to expand their experience and create new memories with the franchise.

As you can see it is with the aid of transmedia storytelling that Harry Potter has become the phenomenon it is today. Therefore, with the success of Harry Potter and many more franchises, that utilize transmedia storytelling, it is no surprise that many people are considering transmedia storytelling to be the future of marketing (Binkley, 2012). As a marketing student myself, I believe that transmedia storytelling is going to continue to play a very important part of marketing in the future for a few key reasons. Firstly it provides consumers with multiple entry points, therefore, can potentially gain more customers and awareness (Moller, 2012). Its also allows consumers to gather information on a media platform they are confortable with and then share this information with others (Moller, 2012). It also helps get consumers more actively involved and engaged in the brand, aiding in establish consumer relationships (Moller, 2012). However, with all this being said, transmedia storytelling will not be in the future for all brands and products as it takes a special set of characters and a truly amazing story to connection and gain interest amongst consumers in the way that Harry Potter has (Jenkins, 2011).



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Wharton. (2012), Transmedia Storytelling, Fan Culture and the future of Marketing,