The concept of brand community has been used to understand how consumers create value around brands online. Recently consumer researchers have begun to debate the relevance of this concept for understanding brand-related communication on social media. Based on a data set of 8949 tweets about Louis Vuitton gathered on Italian Twitter in 2013, this article addresses these discussions by developing the alternative concept of brand publics that differ from brand communities in three important ways. First, brand publics are social formations that are not based on interaction but on a continuous focus of interest and mediation. Second, participation in brand publics is not structured by discussion or deliberation but by individual or collective affect. Third, in brand publics consumers do not develop a collective identity around the focal brand; rather the brand is valuable as a medium that can offer publicity to a multitude of diverse situations of identity. The conclusion suggests that brand publics might be part of a social media–based consumer culture where publicity rather than identity has become a core value.
- brand, brand community, netnography, social media, digital methods, Twitter, fashion, Louis Vuitton