Social Media Impact on Consumer Behavior

What Average People Think of Social Media ?

Average people think of social media as a leisure activity. They think social media exists so that they can connect with their friends and family and share what is important to them. That is exactly what it is from a consumer point of view. It is a free service that allows them to connect with their loved ones for free!

However, nothing in the world is free. Social media is also a serious business. It is a multibillion dollar industry that is fuelling the next generation of corporate giants. Surely there is more to social media than meets the eye of an average individual.

Bait and Switch Model

Companies like Facebook have literally invented the social media model. They have been accused of using the bait and switch model. This means that when consumers do enter these websites, at first they are given free services. They are encouraged to use these services more and more. As their usage increases, so does their social investment. Over time, they develop a network of individuals that they are very close to. Also, they become habituated to these websites.

This is when the emotional investment becomes too high to simply walk away from the network. This is also when companies like Facebook start bombarding their customers with advertisements. Customers who were at first totally averse to advertisements later become increasingly more tolerant. A derogatory way to describe Facebook’s marketing plan would be to call it “bait and switch” but that is what accurately describes the intentions behind this policy.

Privacy Invasion

Companies like Facebook also get consumers to sign over the rights to their privacy. The terms and conditions offered by this website are never read by anyone. However, they authorize Facebook to collect information regarding the user’s activities both on and off the website. This data is then fed into a giant data mining algorithm which can then develop the most targeted advertisement targets for these consumers.

The details shared on such websites are just too intimate! No one would want a corporation to be intercepting these messages. Yet that is exactly what these corporations do! Next time don’t be surprised if you post a picture of your newly born baby on the internet and Facebook start’s showing you diaper advertisements! Their whole business model revolves around snooping in on your personal life to allow other corporations to target their products at you.

Distraction

Another consequence of this social media savvy generation is that the average person is always distracted. Applications like Facebook are available on smart phones. People have gotten used to checking their profile every few minutes. The number of worker and student hours lost to this is phenomenal. Social networks try to make their products as addictive as possible. However, this problem has more to do with user restraint than it has to do with immoral corporate objectives.

Emphasis on Consumerism

Facebook and its peers are fuelling a generation that lays utmost emphasis on consumerism. Most of the posts on Facebook are about acquiring material possessions. A whole generation has become obsessed with acquiring more and more material goods. Once they complete the acquisition they let others know more about it and an even greater number of people are pulled into the consumerism web. It is difficult to have an updated Facebook profile unless one posts details of the latest car they have bought, the latest vacation they have taken or the latest restaurant they have been dining at! The whole culture revolves around glorification of material pursuits.

Facebook is inducing more and more people to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like.

Envy

Recent studies have shown that people that have over 500 Facebook friends are extremely likely to be depressed. This is because these social networks convert everyday life into an endless pursuit of gaining material possessions. The people who do succeed at gaining these possessions are upset because of the costs that they now have to pay. The others that are unable to gain these possessions are depressed and have a low self esteem.

It is surprising that long term use of social media makes pretty much everyone feel worse off! Yet their popularity is skyrocketing.

Consumer Loyalty

Social networks have also become the place where consumers flock to show their loyalty towards brands and the lifestyles they represent. Apple consumers leave no chance to flaunt their latest technology at these websites and neither do Harley Davidson customers miss the chance to flaunt their ruggedness.

These websites then relay these ideas to all the people in their network. Therefore when one person decides to write something favorable about a brand on Facebook, the impact on that brands popularity on others in the group is huge. This is because people are likely to believe the information that they receive from their own peers rather than distant sources since they trust their peers much more.

Companies have their own Facebook pages and can interact with consumers as people. It is only the rise of social networks that has made such intimate connections between companies and people possible. It is now possible for companies to literally know their consumers on a one-to-one basis.

To sum it up, social networks are pure genius from a business point of view. However, as a person, prolonged usage is likely to make you unhappy and depressed.


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