Social media users might be marketing tools for companies and not even know it.
Advertisers are increasingly incorporating social media likes into ads for products, often without the user’s knowledge, notes Jessica Guynn in the Los Angeles Times. In some cases, input on an interesting product —sharing a link with friends, liking it on Facebook or the Google +1 button — could end up with you providing a “personal endorsement” for the item to your friends.
Like it or not, you might have to get used to it.
Google-owned Zagat is expanding a program that turns comments from users 18 or older into actual endorsements. It is also well known that Facebook and other social media platforms regularly share information with marketers and other companies.
Often, “likes” or “+1” is taken out of context. There are different reasons why a person would “like” or “+1” a product. Many people click it to enter contests or get a discount or other freebies, Guynn writes.
Web companies say friend-based ads are more relevant and less annoying than traditional advertising. One branding expert says that ads that pop up in news feeds of friends are up to four times more powerful than standard Facebook ads. However, users are beginning to write off these endorsements by friends, the same as they do online celebrity recommendations.
Facebook pioneered social endorsements in 2007 when it launched ads that notified friends of who was purchasing on which websites. After mass protests, it pulled the program.
Google lets users opt out of specialized ads, but a few users have protested by switching their profile pictures to images of the company’s executive chair, Eric Schmidt, says Guynn.