Monthly Archives: March 2014

As I have said before I love pod casts.  One of my favorites is Mitch Joel’s Twist Image Pod Cast in which he discusses various aspects of digital media with his friends and colleagues.   Last week he interviewed Douglas Rushkoff who is an author and media critic.

The conversation revolved around the corporate ownership of social media and the role individuals play in creating content for big brands.  Rushkoff criticizes both the output and the content creation process because those who benefit from the sharing and the likes are the corporations who host the material and not those who create it.  The original hope for social networking platforms was that they would democratize communications, allowing anyone to share his or her opinion, art or ideas.

In reality social networking has become a means for companies to track individuals and serve them advertising to sell products, rather than allowing for free expression. The problem is compounded when those who create content act to increase their social media presence by playing to the crowd and as a result reducing their creativity. What was initially empowering for individuals is now owned by brands.


Social networks have become mass media with the same goals as television, radio or print.  There is the illusion that social networks serve the greater good, however as Mitch Joel says…’meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

Rushkoff goes onto explain that free  isn’t always better, citing examples of paid media that have higher quality than user generated content. For example, he mentions HBO and Netflix, two services that deliver strong programming as compared to YouTube videos that individuals create and post.

One danger is that children are growing up in a world where they catalog and share their thoughts, feelings, ideas, talent and dreams without ever considering what it means to “sell out.”  In fact, teens who Rushkoff interviewed, could not define the concept of selling out.

Of course, we are all complicit in our usage of social media when it serves our purposes.  As a professor who teaches social media marketing to students I am well aware of the  paradox.


Social Contagion


Social contagion is the process through which individuals learn about new things from others.  A phenomenon can become contagious when people see others engaging with something and enjoying it.  The standard research in the area says that contagious things tend to fit into people’s lifestyles, are seen out and about and offer the opportunity for people to try it out for size.

Marketers who understand social contagion can better target customers and manage the customer adoption process.  The reasons why a product or service might be adopted by a set of people may differ.  For example, a new fashion item, such as skinny jeans may spread through a population because people become aware and interested in the new item.  If so, generating awareness might be a goal of a communications strategy. Financial services adoption would operate differently because individuals would change beliefs about a financial instrument through a process of assessing risk versus return. In this case a strategy aimed at experts would be more effective in generating trial among those who trust them.  This is also true in the prescription drug market in which doctors may be better candidates for initial communications strategies than individuals.  Market can assess the likelihood that social influence follows a particular pattern and develop appropriate strategies for enhancing adoption. The chart below indicates different strategies for different firm goals that marketers may choose to pursue.


Motivation for Adoption

Strategy for Influence

Awareness and interest in an item

Generate significant buzz in many outlets by creating engaging content with a viral component

Learning leading to changing beliefs

Focus on experts to provide message arguments aimed at beliefs

Influencing the legitimacy of an item

Encourage influential targets to adopt the item

Status disadvantage of not adopting

Emphasize activities of close connections in a social network to influence behavior

Benefits grow with additional users in the system

Focus on the most important network users and their connections

(Iyengar & Van den Bulte, 2011)


Bloglette: Mobile at the Movies


A new report from the IAB suggests that movie goers use their mobile devices to search for movie-related information.  According to the above chart people also use mobile to search for television entertainment.  56% of people who go to the movies say they use their phone “to learn more about movie and entertainment options.”  This is almost as many people as say they use their mobile to find out about TV entertainment. One reason for the finding is that people tend to use their mobile device while they are watching television and may use that device to search for more entertainment.  When people are out and about they may be looking for movies to go see. Mobile provides convenience with location-based searches.Image

These data come from the IAB blog.  For the full article click here.