Social media in branding: Fulfilling a need


The author, who has worked on the Internet since 1990, and used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter soon after their inception, looks at how these new media can impact on branding.

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  1. 1.

    The subsequent major general election in the Anglosphere, the UK General Election, saw the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties employ Facebook and Twitter presences to a better effect, at least in securing followers, than the incumbent Labour government. No study, so far, conclusively links the larger Facebook followings of the winning Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition with their win, nor can the author comment on the level of engagement.

  2. 2.

    The evidence for this remains anecdotal at this point, as no academic studies have been done. During the campaign, there were signs of the Internet being key to building a community for Senator Obama.

  3. 3.

    An example of a responsive CEO is Christian von Koenigsegg, who made modifications to his company's sports car after criticism on the TV show Top Gear. A new model was ready for testing within weeks. A larger company would have added the criticism to a longer improvement cycle and the modification might not have been seen for years. The theory behind using the Internet to ‘flatten’ the organization – in the context of online feedback forms – was also expressed in this article.

  4. 4.

    Especially in politics: opponents of the two high-profile politicians in the 2008 US presidential election, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, flung accusations about ghostwriting.


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Correspondence to Jack Yan.

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1founded Jack Yan & Associates (JY&A) ( in 1987, one of the world's earliest virtual firms, and began his career in calligraphy and graphic design. He was the first digital typeface designer in New Zealand. Yan has spent much of his career in digital media, founding the online fashion title Lucire in 1997, and taking it into print editions worldwide in the mid-2000s. At the same time, JY&A grew into brand consulting, an area in which Yan has a Master's degree from Victoria University of Wellington, bringing him to the attention of the Medinge Group think-tank in 2002. He later became a director of the Group. With his colleagues at Medinge, he was an author on Beyond Branding: How the New Values of Transparency and Integrity are Changing the World of Brands (edited by Nicholas Ind, who co-edits this issue of the Journal of Brand Management). He has penned several articles for this journal. He authored Typography and Branding in 2004, and was a contributor to Nishit Kumar and Anil Varma's Nation Branding: Concepts and Country Perspectives in 2009. In 2010, he was a strong though unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of Wellington. He is currently on the Board of Advisers of Nimcom, a new college in communications in Pune, India, and has lectured and spoken in the United States, Sweden, France, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

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Yan, J. Social media in branding: Fulfilling a need. J Brand Manag 18, 688–696 (2011).

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  • social media
  • Web
  • branding
  • brand equity
  • engagement
  • collaboration