Sunday, May 13, 2012

Social ID: Citizen Advertising at its worst

Not only has the internet and social media sites opened the gateways for citizen journalism, but the website,, aims to use these resources a step further with citizen advertising. The way it works is that anybody with either a Facebook or Twitter account can, by setting up yet another account on this site, find their "social IQ," which is their social influence across networking platforms. Basically, it measures how many status updates and blog posts their friends actually pay attention to instead of glossing over in their newsfeed. Then, by using this number, participating companies will be able to know each individual's potential as a marketing space, and will be able to hire them for brand advertisement. So, in the future, if you're wondering why one of your friends is wearing a different ADIDAS hoodie in every single picture of their new album, consider yourself a target.

Although it seems like a brilliant idea on the part of creator, Akram Benmbarek, there is some obvious negative backlash that such an idea risks receiving. First of all, when a friend's personal Twitter account is obviously being used as a marketing tool, they therefore lose their credibility amongst followers as a trusted and unbiased source. This marketing scheme of brands giving free "gifts" to bloggers in exchange for a favorable post is nothing new, but in each case the blogger will almost always feel obligated to add a subnote in the description of each item, such as "Courtesy of" or "A gift from" to maintain themselves as an independent personality free from corporate control. This is because the bloggers recognize just how annoying it is that businesses always manage to taint what followers believe to be a genuine social connection. The key to gaining celebrity status on social media sites is to appear sincere and relatable as well as informative, not like a worker who regurgitates information in an attempt to start a "hot new craze."herefore when an internet personality is used as practically a human billboard, it will not take long for followers to realize this and grow resentment for the fact that their networking space is continually being imposed upon.  We all know that social media sites are used to sell products to us, but keep the ads in the margins of the page, please.


  1. The whole phenomenon of lifestyle marketing certainly intersects with news blogging and other forms of citizen journalism, especially now that so many people get their news from trusted sources in their social network rather than trusted sources on the traditional broadcast networks. As you point out many bloggers (including me) have been contacted by companies requesting that we write positive stories about particular products in exchange for a slice of revenue. Their are troubling issues about ethics, disclosure, and the potential for exploiting friendships shaped by what Ian Bogost has called "the membership economy."

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