Invasive or not?

The case studies I have presented in recent posts highlight the successful use of social media to increase reputational capital. These have uncovered the means by which brands are using the digital landscape in order to create wealth.

Having recently written a paper on the political economy of new media, I can’t help but think about how two sides of the social media coin have been brought to life – both of which promote brand reps in different ways.

On one hand, we can see how brands are tapping into the non-commodified relationships that people are having online to not only increase brand presence and reputation but also to produce capital.

In the case of KLM Airlines, it was clear how social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare were commodified. The individuals who were targeted for a gift had their social media presence analysed in order to determine an appropriate gift.  The campaign demonstrates how brands can mine the data collected about individuals online in order to leverage their brand.

On the other hand, we see how social media is providing a ‘democratising’ voice to marginalised views. By interacting with her fans directly via social media, Lady Gaga has created inclusionary spaces around her celebrity status and shared interest in her music for her fans to discuss issues such as their ‘imperfections’.

Is it invasive for brands to use the data created by consumers based on their social / cultural interests?

Do you think that it is invasive for brands to use the data collected about the things we do online? Are the privacy settings we set really private? Do you feel as though the consumer has a democratising voice online?


6 thoughts on “Invasive or not?

  1. Dear, great question! As I said in others’ posts, acctually, the business corporates surveilled the Internet as well. Some of social media corporations accumulate user’s personal data to sell to advertisers. Online advertising promotes ideological messages by presenting limited views of reality to audiences that users can be unaware of these processes performed on their online communication activities. This brings about an illusion of free online communication that is often unknowingly paid for with users’ private and public communication that is analyzed by corporations who can develop persuasive messages based on user sentiments and behaviors.

    • Thanks Peggy and yes! This has all to do with the political economy. Our studies are showing us that companies have cleverly used the vast database of information from the ‘free labour’ of our interactions online. This includes tailoring advertisements to our social and cultural tastes to herding us into communities based on common interests – all for to make capital gains.

  2. Are the privacy settings we set really private? So, maybe, they aren’t. In the social media era, the problem we should think about is how to keep the customers’ information safe…

  3. Alicia – this is a real big issue. In response to Peggy’s question: “Are the privacy settings we set really private?” The answer is no. Their may be decreased levels of public sharing of our information but nothing is purely private. It is a great opportunity for commercial enterprises but it is at the cost of publics losing some of their anonymity.

    • I don’t really think there is such thing as ‘private’ in the online sphere. Everything is visible to someone, and even if we delete content, it has still left an impression on the people that have read it. Companies have certainly tapped into this resource-rich space to find out more about consumers and to make improvements to and develop better produces and services.

  4. Great and topical debate here. I do find it disturbing that our ‘privacy’ can be accessed by companies but I can’t say I am surprised. I believe that everything I do online is probably accessible by someone at some point no matter how severe my privacy settings. While I try keep that in the back of my mind everytime I do something on the online sphere I must admit sometimes I forget. What about the recent Facebook debacle with all those private messages printed on the timeline. It left a lot of people red-faced and I myself had to quicky rush to my page and delete a lot of information.


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