Social Media and digital advertising is a crucial marketing tool for any enterprise. Whether selling goods or offering services, brands run to market themselves where people are found. And people are found on social media these days all the time. However, this very article is my perspective on how people advertise for brands free.
People are the base of society – the very foundational blocks. No matter how much we debate on consumerism or capitalists hunting for markets, in the end, it’s always people who get to decide for themselves. It has been testified on and off by various incidents. The fact that a global phenomenon, McDonald’s, has to shut its stores in countries like Iran and Jamaica is only one example. People “cancel” anything that goes against their larger collective sense of belonging. But, it is these very people who create that ‘belongingness’. The catch is that the power structure works here just like it does for any other social practice.
So, in the cliched traditionally accepted top-down fashion, the ‘modern’ lifestyle flows from elites to commons. The hierarchy of high and low cultures follows the existing class distributions. Now, if you are wondering how is all of this related to Social Media and advertising, I am just coming there in a moment.
When Television brought TV programs and cinema to people’s everyday lives, it revolutionized the ways they conducted themselves. Part of the reason being the subtle engineering of lifestyle and aspirations inspired by the daily soap operas. Cinema was already a factor affecting all styles of living. But TV catapulted this subconscious psychological programming. Whoever held the power to mass media, controlled the public narrative. Now all of this must be sounding a bit too much out of the topic.
Let’s jump right into social media. While TV and cinema could only popularize what those creating that content want, Social Media has given this power to the hands of people. Quite literally. Earlier, FOMO was not such a big deal as it is today. To put it into perspective – we were not as much bothered about expensive or exclusive lavish clothes, high-end fashion, lucrative cafes, adventurous locations, and commodities our peers had as we are today. Surrounded by people’s “performances” on Social Media makes us vulnerable to wanting “more“. The capacity to determine what qualifies as “more” rests with those “having” it already. I hope I am making sense here.
Bringing the power structure concept back, people who “own” high fashion inspire (rather threaten) those who do not. When we come across pictures of our colleagues or friends wearing a certain brand, brandishing that exclusive bag, enjoying a special meal, visiting a renowned place, or flaunting a new gadget, we become susceptible to longing. This happens regardless of fact whether we want it or not because Social Media surrounds us with such visual spectacles 24X7.
It feels useless to visit a popular eatery if we do not share its pictures on our Snapchat and Instagram. Any achievement does not worth it until it is announced on Facebook. BMW’s logo must be visible in the picture you post on Instagram. The glass of red wine is a status symbol, hence, must go on Social Media. Not to mention, a vlog of your trip to Kasauli. So on and so forth.
All of this has got nothing to do with marketing advertising per se. Power rests with people who “approve” and “appropriate” what should or should not be “high culture“. This exponentially helps well-established brands without spending a penny.
Imagine a person wanting to buy an iPhone after seeing all his connections on Instagram sharing a mirror-selfie with Apple’s logo vividly visible. How does it happen? It is the mental conditioning which social media facilitates, promotes, and does to us without our agency or control. This stimulation of “desire” is always happening as we are always on social media.
You may ask who’s the culprit?
The brands? The people on the top of the hierarchy? Social Media? High-speed Internet? Cultural elites?
None! It is us who need to take control and fight the “stimulation“. This does not imply that we should not have aspirations or desires, because these things do give us a sense of purpose. But, to know and ardently follow your genuine ambitions must always be the priority. It is high time to take control and own agency of our desires.
Ask yourself, why have western clothes and fancy cafes become a symbol of modernity?