Two Faces of the Same Book: Dilution of the Brand and Conflicting Social Contexts

by Marianne Richmond on October 5, 2006

In continuing to read opinions regarding the recent announcement that Facebook was going to go niche-less and open its network to everyone, I found it interesting to note that almost no one thought the move was a good thing. I say almost because surely there must be someone who thought it made sense, I just have not been able to find them or their blog.

Further noteworthy was the fact that "big mistake" could be expressed in compliance to the standards of various disciplines and still mean the same thing. Danah Boyd for instance used the term "conflicting social contexts." Danah is a PhD Student at UC Berkley School of Information and does social media research. She wrote,


"I do not believe that social network sites are able to sustain lots of conflicting social contexts. Or, rather, I don’t believe that they can continue as a hang-out space. I know that Facebook will continue to grow but I believe that the core value of it will be lost for the sake of growth."

David Bell, uses the term, "dilution of the brand." Bell, an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of Business does research on price setting, price dispersion and the effect of word of mouth and variables such as "free shipping" offers on Internet sales wrote,


"By expanding, "you can dilute what the community stands for. Once that happens, people leave. It’s a key tension between growth and dilution of the brand."

Conflicting social contexts and dilution of the brand have similar outcomes: loss of cool, people leave and don’t hang out anymore.

After many years in brand marketing and advertising I returned to grad school to study clinical social work. A professor asked me what I was studying and what I had done before. When I told him, he said, "Oh, you want to manipulate people’s minds in a different way, now." Well, no not really all that different….I will just use different words to describe the same thing.

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