I’ve been trying to find the best way to explain my thoughts/idea here so if the analogy for a zero sum game doesn’t make sense then I apologize. Let’s first explain what a zero sum game is.
According to wikipedia:
“In game theory and economic theory, zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant’s gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. ”
Basically what I’m trying to say is that marketers are trying to find ways to better target their products/advertising to us but social media users are diluting themselves and keeping the marketers from accessing relevant information.
We’re approaching a point where marketers are trying to learn more and more about consumer purchase behavior by looking at their social graph; meaning where they exist online, what they talk about, and who they are connected to. Eventually we are going to get to a time where marketers are going to be able to market a product directly to a consumer based on the information that they can gather from their social graph. I’m going to write a whole separate post about this explaining how I think this will work, but for now just take this on face value. However, there is an inefficiency in the relationship between marketers and consumers (that use social media, or perhaps in general).
As consumers in the social media space we are constantly wanting to see companies use targeted advertising to show us exactly what we are interested in. If, I’m a technology geek interested in chess and social media, then I don’t want to see an add trying to get me to buy a bowling ball. The problem is that social media users are inefficient with how they use the tools out there. We are still very much focused on quantity instead of quality and this why it’s hard for marketers to give us what we want.
Twitter is a good/easy example to use. If I’m a marketer and I want to better understand your wants and needs through twitter, then I’m going to look at what you talk about as well as who you are connected to in order to determine what your interests are. However, what happens when I look at your profile and find that you are following 10,000 people (or 20,000 or 40,000?). My information then becomes extremely skewed and not relevant. If you introduce me to some of your friends and we have a conversation together, then I can most likely figure out what kind of a person you are and what you are interested in. But, if you bring me to a warehouse with thousands of people then I’m not going to have a clue as to what you like or what you’re interested in. The more inside of your social circle I get, the more I’m going to know (i.e. I’ll learn the most about you from your closest friends), but if I’m just in the crowd, then I’m not going to know much, makes sense?
As social media users we are inherently inefficient with how we use the tools and platforms to connect with friends (well most of us). From what I’ve seen, most people accept any friend request they get, follow anyone that follows them, etc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just how it is (at least from what I’ve seen). Also, keep in mind that this certainly doesn’t apply to everyone.
Then the question that consumers need to ask themselves is, do we want targeted advertising and marketing or do we want nothing at all?
I do think that eventually we are going to see companies use our social graph to deliver highly targeted ads/products to us (will have a post on this later), I am just am not sure when or how it’s actually going to happen. I have the concept/idea but I’m still trying to understand the mapping and execution.
What do you think?