The Era Of Grassroots And Astroturfs
Charting the future of public relations
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The Era Of Grassroots And Astroturfs

Internet has given a voice to all ideologies and helped build increasingly exogamic societies where new communities of individuals continuously appear.

LLORENTE & CUENCA

The Era Of Grassroots And Astroturfs

According to Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail theory, the Internet and the digital environment have changed the laws of distribution and the rules for the market of products and services with principles that can also be applied to the world of ideas.

Internet has given a voice to all ideologies and helped build increasingly exogamic societies where new communities of individuals continuously appear. They are now able to find similar people with a shared cause or area on which to base their relationships and exponentially gain the ability to influence economic, social, political, and cultural contexts.

In the field of political communication, parties and candidates were the first to create mobilization strategies that were known as grassroots campaigns. Grassroots strategies use the Internet as a source of intelligence in order to understand citizen’s demands. They are embraced by the party’s political ideas, proposals and solutions are offered, and every identified community receives the exact message it wants to hear. Finally, communities are empowered and mobilize around a cause.

This organic and needs-based mobilization method results in mobilizations that are more solid and that in the medium and long term are able to sway schools of thought.

Thanks to the Internet and Big Data platforms, there is progressively more knowledge of communities and their needs, as well as their areas of conversation and interests. Their ability to grow and exert influence depends on their mobilization capacity, which can be organically promoted through grassroots strategies. However, there is another equally interesting driver, and it is known as the astroturf strategy.

The Internet makes it possible to observe the progress of conversations involving communities and areas in order to detect potential risks or opportunities. It is clear that favorable trends towards sharing economies will help companies improve their performance in this niche.

If we go back to the beginning of The Long Tail, there are all types of thoughts and ideologies, radical and moderate, which coexist on the Internet. There will always be a group of people, who may not be connected, but who share a number of common needs and causes that may coincide with the interests of an industry, company, institution, etc.

To reach these objectives and to develop an astroturf strategy, it is first necessary to identify the position and the corresponding stable conversation, as well as the people, the content and the right time defined by the organic conversation’s agenda. The bigger and more stable the wave, the more opportunities for development. Once identified, is key to find a common cause that is shared by the institution, businesses or brand and the communities. This will help to define objectives, combine interests, find allies, and establish a reason for creating a community to base a shared culture. This will integrate symbols and customs that allow their identification, associated themes, leaders, connectors, and channels for easier coordination. The strategy as well as the medium–and long–term vision of each industry and company will lead to the final result: as an institution, do you want to follow trends or set trends?

*Summary of the article by Juan Rivera, Partner and Managing Director of LLORENTE & CUENCA Mexico and Juan Arteaga, Senior Director at LLORENTE & CUENCA Mexico. Available at Developing Ideas

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