Screenshot from PBS.com
Just last week there was a fascinating episode that we watched together, which almost never happens, regarding the business of "likes." I always read about "like farming" and this is kind of a new take, an expanded take, on the business of likes.
For those unaware, there really is an enormous business model, and billions in profit behind this movement, where businesses effectively make you the consumer their marketing budget, especially teenagers, making the companies millions of dollars with carefully constructed social media campaigns. These networks, these billion dollar juggarnauts are mining your information, your tweets, your likes, your posts, and compiling your personalized profile in order to sell you stuff, present to you to sell for them, and to present you with new stuff to like and in turn sell. It's a cycle that makes them richer, and only a few of you lucky enough to benefit--if you know how to work it.
This episode did a great job "exposing" that culture, and showing two companies, one being TheAudience, whose entire being is essentially social media management, though exposing isn't exactly the right word. While I sat there watching this, the former advertiser/marketer in me thought "oh my god, this guy is absolutely fucking brilliant. Genius!" Meanwhile, the person that left that world is having a tug of war inside thinking "I need to get off of Facebook and Instagram and Twitter."
The presenter shows how the teenage and early twenties-aged generation has learned to make social media work for them, while also totally controlling them, showing how absolutely desperate for acceptance they are. This whole concept of "liking" essentially is what builds their self esteem, and can completely kill it at the same time. And businesses know that.
It's also depressing. I hate to see kids going down this road of tying their esteem to "likes" and "retweets" and how many people interacted with them, and if a celebrity noticed them online after persistently being tweeted at. I admit, I like seeing likes, I like retweets. But I don't know that I am going to actively seek that out in such the same manner. There was a lot of sadness in seeing how some of these kids they interview really tie their entire being to this "like" business. And one parent interviewed has actually effectively figured out how to pimp her daughter on instagram, figuring out which photographs she takes get more likes.
Being a blogger who, as yet, actively chooses not to monetize this entity, which I know some within the blogging world "do not get", this was a fascinating watch for me. I have heard of Tyler Oakley, among other YouTube "celebrities." I find the success of sharing the opinions kind of interesting. I've researched what it might take to grow my blog, my "brand" into that sort of thing, and I know that while I did start this several years ago, there's a difference in the way these things evolve. Sometimes I feel like I get lost in the internet world I am part of and I don't actively live enough to be interesting enough for such a "branding experience" though.
So check out the episode at the link below. It's about an hour long--so get comfortable. But it's seriously worth every minute. Could've been longer, even! I'd love to hear what you think when you finish!
Watch here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/
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