People as Products

People gather around a common idea. This is why, according to Boyd and Ellison, social sites thrive among smaller groups and communities dedicated to a similar interest. When reading their work, it immediately made sense as to why Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm changes continually. In order to best service their primary customers (companies advertising via Facebook) and consumers, Facebook’s primary goal must be to study consumers first. Where people gather to share, ingest and produce ideas depends on what each group prefers and finds passionate. This kid of digital narcissism (Keen and Weignberger, 2007), is precisely why similar patterns of behavior are studied in order to utilize the underlying beliefs of niche groups.

The brilliance behind this kind of marketing is, I feel, that individuals feel specialized when, in actuality, they are part of a mass product. If individuals do not have to pay for a product, I would suggest that they are the actual product. In the case of social media, individuals are the product, and their behaviors are analyzed to deliver best marketing information to the shareholders (i.e. companies).

Posted on September 21, 2014, in Blogs, Metablogging. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Facebook’s analytical capabilities were an unseen Godsend in the marketing world. This ability is being amplified by the usage of mobile devices that customize user experiences based of patterns. The more sophisticated mobile devices become, the better Facebook and similar sites will be able to cater to them.

  2. Your post reminded me of an interesting book I read last summer, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg.

    Duhigg explains how Target created a pregnancy-prediction model to identify when female shoppers will get pregnant and can then accurately predict the due date. With this data, Target creates custom advertisements.

    I’m fascinated by the amount of consumer data companies have on us. You can read an excerpt from his book on The New York Times.

  3. I have never looked at myself as a product before and I don’t like it. However, that doesn’t mean that what you stated is any less true. I have always tried to swim against, or at least perpendicular, to the majority, but now I realize that all companies want me to do is swim. It doesn’t matter which direction, because they have a different tactic to market to me.

    Peah’s reply reminded me of an article I read sometime back. It is in the bottom of her link but here is the excerpt:

    The fact that Target knew the girl was pregnant before her dad is both incredible and incredibly scary. I can’t imagine what else they are able to discern from spending habits and online activity.

  4. You’re right, Jessa; it is brilliant marketing. Honestly, I do like it when I see an ad for some niche product that I actually would be interested in (that’s how I heard about ModCloth, and what a successful relationship we have now!). It’s kind of like blind dating, these targeted ads–most of the time it’ll be a complete bust, but sometime it might just be a winner.

    Like online dating, the key to a good match is a detailed profile. Social media platforms are great places to glean all the key data that ads want. Don’t want to date social media ads? Discontinue your social media profile!

    Of course that’s difficult to do; if, like me, you can’t bring yourself to quit social media, it’s still in your power to ignore the ads.

  5. “If individuals do not have to pay for a product, I would suggest that they are the actual product.” Well said!

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