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State of public discourse: What the culture creators want you to know

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The State of Public Discourse report will provide Canadian brands and organizations with an overview of the key findings surrounding consumer beliefs and values that are forecast for 2015. The report's findings are based on a unique analysis of thousands of public conversations by Canadians on over the past year. One of the most influential communities online, reddit drew over 731 million Unique Visitors from across the globe in 2013, including over 7.4 million Canadians.

Text of State of public discourse: What the culture creators want you to know

  • STATE OF PUBLIC DISCOURSE What the culture creators want you to know ! A report by Sonic Boom, in collaboration with Photo Credit: WanderingtheWorld (
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM state of Public discourse What the culture creators want you to know For years, weve looked at the real world for clues on where our culture is headed - fashion, art, music, television and more, all provide an insight into the evolving values of our world. Now we are faced with a very dierent scenario - an increasingly active online audience that spend more time interacting with people online than they do oine. But what does this mean? It means we can now mine this data to forecast our future, recognize the evolving nature of people, and understand their values and beliefs. Trends dened by the internets culture creators 2 Source: ultraBobban
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM Table of Contents ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Introduction 4 Methodology 7 Understanding emerging value systems 8 Implications of value systems on your organization 20 Perceptions of key industry verticals 21 Automotive 22 Healthcare 26 Entertainment 32 Telecommunications 36 Conclusion 40 Appendix 43 Trends dened by the internets culture creators 3
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM Introduction As marketers and individuals in the eld of communications, were looking to better understand audiences, forecast trends, engrain our brands/products into the fabric of community-based conversations, and drive advocacy organically in an increasingly crowded online marketplace. Leaders in organizations are looking to stay au courant with evolving Internet culture and the evolving needs of audiences to ensure business models stay relevant. And those interested in Internet culture are looking to better understand its visceral connection to humanity, and how it continues to inuence the nature of relationships. As much as we'd like to think there's no method to the madness on the Internet, behind every new idea, meme, community and movement, are people. Empowered by a distinct set of shared beliefs and values, online activity reects peoples view of the world and guides their responses to situations and brands. So why are certain brands revered online, while others cant seem to do anything right? Is there a discernible pattern to why some things turn into trends? Why do certain ideas turn into memes while others just zzle away? With that in mind, we began to look for dominant patterns in online discourse to identify the underlying value and belief systems that determine how the most inuential online audiences behave in various contexts. ! ! Trends dened by the internets culture creators 4 Source: kagey_b The internet now oers us a great way to forecast trends, and understand our culture. TREND FORECASTING SONIC BOOM
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM Why study dominant discourse on the Internet? The Internet is a critical facilitator of public engagement that cannot be ignored. Driving discourse in ways that have never before been imagined, the online world denes and inuences trends and public opinion. In this new reality, having a nger on the pulse of online conversation in any given context can become a competitive advantage for organizations in any industry. Leveraging as a lens into the pulse of the Internet Over the past few years, has emerged as one of the most inuential communities on the Internet, launching everything from memes about popular culture, to large-scale movements across the globe. Widely regarded as the front page of the Internet, it is frequented by early adopters of technology, geeks, and culture creators. Unsurprisingly, reddit has attracted the attention of some of the worlds most prominent artists, writers, politicians and leaders. Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sir David Attenborough, Chris Hadeld, and many more have participated in live discussions on reddit, in the hope of inuencing public opinion of various issues and campaigns. In 2013, reddit drew over 731 million Unique Visitors from across the Globe, including over 7.4 million Canadians each month, with an average time on site of over 18 minutes! The numbers are staggering. Trends dened by the internets culture creators 5 A conversation between Bill Gates and thousands of members of the community
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM Methodologically speaking, the analysis of discourse in the online world through reddit allows us to look at thousands of online conversations on a variety of topics (from religion and politics to health care and technology), and apply a social sciences lens to the data. This enables us to identify emerging value and belief systems that dene communities of people, the meanings created around brands, products and industries, and the future impact of events on public perception. Some notable events showcasing reddits inuence on the Internet include: Through the support of the reddit community, comedian Louis C.K has sold over a million dollars worth of online content. In 2009, reddit started the largest secret santa gift exchange in the world. In 2013 it boasted 117,956 participants from 160 countries, and almost $4 Million spent in gifts and shipping. In 2012, reddit inuenced an Internet blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act in the United States. Other participants included Google and Wikipedia. On numerous occasions, the reddit community has raised awareness, money, and resources for various issues that matter over $600,000 in support of public education, over $185,000 to rebuild Haiti, $65,000 (in 24 hours!) for an orphanage in Kenya, a community dedicated to the act of ordering pizza for someone in need of a helping hand, over $30,000 for a terminally ill cancer patient, and the list goes on and on. Given its signicant impact and presence on the Internet, it is a natural conclusion to leverage the community as a doorway into our current culture online, and as a portent of our collective future. Trends dened by the internets culture creators 6
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM Methodology We identify and analyze thousands of online conversations that are relevant to Canadian reddit users across a range of topics. These include government and politics, economics, corporations and brands, people and culture. Our process begins with identifying the 50 most popular sub-reddits (sub-communities on various topics within among Canadian users. Within each of these 50 sub-reddits, we identify the 50 topics with the most engagement over the past 12 months, resulting in 2,500 identied topics and over 20,000 comments. We then proceed to identify patterns and interpret meanings behind the words being used by audiences to communicate with one another. This allows us to identify the underlying values, beliefs and attributes that inform consumer perceptions, understand how online activity shapes discourse and relationships in various industries, and establish baselines for forecasting future trends. Trends dened by the internets culture creators 7 A visualization of communities most connected to Canada. Source:
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM UNDERSTANDING EMERGING VALUE SYSTEMS To understand emerging value systems on the Internet, we assessed the dominant topics among Canadian users over the past year. Specically, we looked to identify perceptions of corporations, governments and people, with the aim of establishing a framework that can be used to understand evolving belief systems in todays hyper-connected digital world. Over the next few sections, this report will summarize our ndings and discuss the emerging value system that is guiding and informing how audiences perceive brands, products, people and things. ! ! Trends dened by the internets culture creators 8 Source: Stephen D. Melkisethian
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM CORPORATIONS By examining the most popular and engaging conversations around some of the largest brands/corporations in Canada and the rest of the world (as discussed by Canadians on reddit), we can pinpoint two attributes that dene how audiences scrutinize the actions of corporations in Canada and abroad. 1. General level of distrust 2. Celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation ! ! Trends dened by the internets culture creators 9 Source: Daquella manera
  • State of Public Discourse SONIC BOOM 1: General Level of Distrust Audiences express a general level of skepticism and cynicism regarding the role of corporations in society. This perception stems from what audiences believe are the underlying truths about the way corporations function in Canada and abroad. When speaking about general distrust in corporations in Canada, the community presents two arguments: 1.1 Large Corporations Are Inecient A commonly held (and rarely contested) belief is that the larger the corporation is, the more inecient its operations are. In the Canadian context, this translates into the notion that consumers bear the consequences of this ineciency in the form of higher costs, ineective service, contractual lock-ins, etc. The most commonly cited example is the Telecommunications Industry in Canada, with the three largest providers often mentioned negatively. Comm

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