Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The roles of the social consumer = ...middle school?


This made me think of just one thing...middle school. 

Hey, psychoanalyze me all you want; it's probably justified. And maybe it's just that "peer" is right at the top. But the shifting power dynamics of consumerism as refracted by social media are a lot like power relationships in middle school, where a new pair of sunglasses can make you the "It" kid for a day and a zit on your chin can harm your brand for a week.

Middle school is all about self-branding in a constantly shifting environment; you can't necessarily predict the impact those careful decisions will have. (Those sunglasses will only take you so far if somebody's got the newest iPod.) 

But I don't necessarily see this correlation as a bad thing. On the contrary, while the world becomes more navigable and somewhat more humane after the brutality of brand-as-identity, I don't think we ever really drop those power dynamics of relating to one another. And that means this graphic (and further discussion - follow link) is simply a more accurate and accessible depiction of what's been happening all along.

An app I downloaded tonight, "World Customs and Cultures," informs me: "Russians tend to be somewhat guarded and closed until a relationship is formed... In some instances you may find that Russians will dance around a subject, especially if it's a difficult or uncomfortable topic. In other instances they can be quite direct." 

But isn't that more or less how we all are with any kind of capital - money, time, trust, loyalty?

Implications: I think those people who naturally have a facility for understanding how members of a community relate to one another have always had the edge in marketing. And to be honest, I think the transparency of this time period, as so many of us attempt to literally graph the patterns of desire and influence, can be a wealth of ethical, as well as business and marketing, resources. 

Do you think "humanizing" brands and tracking social interacts to sell is exploitative, no matter what? Or do you think it's more transparent...or somewhere in the middle?

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