[iDC] Facebook's social advertising system and the rise of the fansumer

Chris Byrne chris at crowriver.net
Sat Nov 17 13:50:57 UTC 2007

I suppose what I was (briefly) alluding to is the 'ethos' of each  
network, and how Facebook may be changing.

It seems to me that MySpace has built a presence largely around  
fandom and fan culture, specifically relating to music and musical  
performers. Of course as the network has grown, many and varied  
alternatives to that simple focus have emerged, according to the  
diversity of individuals and groups participating in the network. At  
the risk of generalising too much, I would however say that people  
participate in MySpace due to their interest in or support for  
particular cultural phenomena: call it fandom, enthusiasts, whatever.  
The network has devised ways for musicians, artists, companies to  
reach their 'fan base' or audience and this is what many of the  
'friend' connections are based upon.

In contrast Facebook has taken the 'friendship' aspect more seriously  
and the culture of the network tends towards an etiquette of real  
life connections between people. Not that fictitious avatars do not  
exist on Facebook, but it seems they are relatively uncommon. On  
MySpace, in contrast, adopting a handle or even an invented identity  
are much more widespread. It might be analysed as being a consequence  
of network 'critical mass', that anonymity becomes more important in  
a large crowd, but I think it is also related to how the network is  
designed. Facebook's origins in the academic community and the ways  
in which the network tools create filters for friends are intended to  
reflect real world social links. MySpace's emphasis on music and the  
arts creates a more 'performative' tendancy amongst its users.

So when Facebook starts to introduce user profiling according to  
enthusiasms and interests, I think the ethos changes. Third-part  
applications for Facebook have been doing this for some time, but now  
that this way of targetting is built in, coupled with the ability for  
corporations and companies to create profiles, I would argue Facebook  
moves closer to the way MySpace does business. The technology may be  
more sophisticated, but the Facebook is in some ways a more subtle  
tool for social networking. Each network has its own attributes,  
pluses and minuses. My main concern though is to identify the shift  
in in culture which this technical change introduces.


Chris Byrne
ARC Projects
chris at arcprojects.org

On 10 Nov 2007, at 19:26, kevin palmer wrote:

> Chris,
> You give MySpace way too much credit. What Facebook is doing, while  
> creepy, is revolutionary within the realms social networking.  
> Excluding Adsense, MySpace can only tailor ads based on location,  
> gender, sexual preference, and age. They haven't had a clear cut  
> ability to do it by any keywords based off the users profiles. That  
> has been the big knock on MySpace is that they charge such a high  
> amount for advertising but are limited in how you can target it.  
> (Which kind of has been a selling point for me and other grass root  
> marketers on MySpace, we are at least smart enough to data mine  
> using keywords.)
> -Kevin
> On Nov 10, 2007 11:12 AM, Chris Byrne <chris at crowriver.net> wrote:
> Interesting article from the Guardian technology section. Facebook
> becoming more and more like MySpace, it seems:
> "Facebook's social advertising system and the rise of the fansumer
> The social networking site is providing a way for companies to reach
> people who are what they consume
> by Jack Schofield
> Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook's social advertising
> system in New York yesterday, and it has nothing to do with banner
> ads, or text ads. It is, rather, a clever way to capitalise on the
> rise of fansumers: the sort of people who buy products as a way of
> making statements about themselves and their aspirations: in other
> words, it's the off-the-shelf lifestyle business. (Usually, the
> "statement" is that they have more money than sense.)
> To give an example, SugarWater will be able to set up a SugarWater
> profile page, which they can't correctly do at the moment. People who
> love SugarWater will then be able to "friend" SugarWater, making
> their allegiance plain to all their friends. The community of
> SugarWater fans will be able to reinforce one another's judgement
> about the superiority of SugarWater over the rival WaterSugar
> product, from which it is otherwise indistinguishable.
> Since this fits the modus operandi of lifestyle marketing, it should
> do well."
> Read more here:
> http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/11/07/
> facebooks_social_advertising_system_and_the_rise_of_the_fansumer.html
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