This month at Postconsumers, we’re shining the light on some activities, hobbies, niches or even social norms which can be ridden with consumerism but are often thought of as being postconsumer alternatives. Today, we’re tackling what may be the most ubiquitous presence in several people’s lives, social media. It is likely you think about social websites as a way to get in touch with and remain-in-touch with your friends and family, a method to keep up-to-date on topics and groups that you cherish as well as even a method to make new friends. And when used for good, social networking does all of those things. But there is also a hidden … and not so hidden … strain of consumerism in Real Stew.
According to how old you are, you’ve probably experienced the next cycle one or more times and maybe several (or even frequently). A social media launches. You will find no ads, in fact it is glorious and also you spend all of your time on the website speaking with people of great interest or considering fascinating (or at least mildly interesting) things. Then, eventually, the social media needs to develop money. By that point, you’ve built up your network and become purchased the internet site itself, so you’re unlikely to entirely flee. And then, suddenly, you see your homepage or feed or stream cluttered with ads for things that you may or may not want but almost always don’t need. Social media has become the shopping mall in the present era, but unlike most malls you don’t necessarily get the choice of which stores you wish to walk into. Did you have any idea that you simply desired to transform your Instagram photos to magnets? We’re guessing which you didn’t – until a social networking ad mentioned which you supposedly did!
The bait and switch with advertisements on the majority of social media sites is the most obvious method that consumerism is worked in to the model, but it’s not by far the most insidious way.
Exactly what makes a social websites network this kind of target-rich environment for advertisers is the quantity of data that they could drill through to be able to place their ads directly ahead of the individuals who are most likely to respond to them. By “the level of data that they can drill through” we mean “the level of data that users provide and this the social media network shares with advertisers.” Now, to get perfectly clear, a site sharing user data with advertisers as a way to enable them to optimize their marketing campaigns is in no way new to social media marketing and most users never understand that simply by using a site or creating an account over a site they may be automatically allowing their data being shared (it’s typically mentioned in very, tiny print inside the conditions and terms that nobody ever reads). But why is it more insidious whenever a social media can it?
The kind of data that you’re sharing on a social networking which the social networking is sharing with advertisers is just a whole lot more intimate. Social networking sites share your interests (both stated and derived from other activities which you post). Would you have a baby recently? You don’t should share it with advertisers, you just have to post about this on a social media where you might like to share it with your friends and family along with the social network’s smart computer brain knows to know advertisers to get started on demonstrating diapers. Have you go to a website that sells hammers recently? Your social network is aware that dexspky04 an operation called retargeting, and from now on you’re going to see ads from that website advertising that very product in an effort (usually highly successful) to help you straight back to purchase it. So while data sharing is easily the most insidious manner in which social media sites implement consumerism, it’s actually not the most damaging.
At Postconsumers, one of the issues that we work the most difficult to take to people’s attention is that what makes addictive consumerism so dangerous is the way that, at this point, it’s interwoven with everyday living, society and even personal identity. That’s what’s so dangerous regarding the consumer element of social networking. Social networking is a lifestyle tool to allow you to express yourself and communicate with others, yet it’s absolutely accepted that woven to the fabric of this experience is consumerism. Actually, the practice of social networking relies on that. It’s assumed that people will treat brands as “people” and like, follow and connect with them. Much like the backlash against Mitt Romney’s assertion that corporations are people, too, the same is true of your brand over a social media site. Yet, the charge of customer care or sales people who manage social media marketing presence for a corporation or brand is to talk to the buyers or brand advocates as though the company were a person. This fine line between the way you talk to actual living people on social media and brands, products or companies is very fine which you often forget there exists a difference. And that is certainly a hazardous blending of life and consumerism.
Social media advertising also depends on a “follow the herd” mentality, assuming that people seemingly closest to you (your social websites friends and contacts) can more effectively influence you to definitely buy, try or support a brand name, company or product. That’s why almost all social networking campaigns are designed to encourage men and women to share information regarding brands, products or companies on their social network. Once you see people who you know and trust endorsing a consumer element, you are more likely to connect to and, ultimately, spend money on that element. It’s by far the most virtual form of peer pressure or “keeping on top of the joneses.” And because people spend a lot time on certain social networks, it features a significant cumulative impact.
So, the next time you think that you will be harmlessly updating your status to your friends, consider exactly how much your social network activity is facilitating the intrusion of the consumer machine. Then enhance your status about this!