Last week, GameStop shares surged after the WallStreetBets subreddit shared research on Melvin Capital’s short and then coordinated purchases to drive up the stock price. There’s at least one takeaway for communication professionals: The situation highlights the internet’s foundational transformation and a shift in who has the power to influence what mainstream consumers see, hear and believe.
WallStreetBets is a faction. It’s a highly motivated, hyperactive online group. Groups use the internet and its mechanics to find and coordinate action with likeminded people. In a typical scenario, if a faction drives 1 percent of an online conversation around a topic, it is in control of setting the narrative agenda. WallStreetBets was driving 30 percent of the conversation around GameStop.
The swift, significant impact of the WallStreetBets subreddit is a clear indicator that protecting a company’s integrity requires it to consider the potential influence of a faction. Here are considerations to help ensure you understand how to interact with factions.