The Stickiness of Social Media Labels: What Likes Say About You
When I was younger, my parents bought a brand new car. It was a red-letter day in the Atchison household because it's the only time I can think of a member of my family ever bought a car off the showroom floor.
Once they brought it home, it had about 20 miles total on it. My parents were very proud.
It wasn't even a fancy car, but a sturdy, reliable Toyota Camry.
Almost immediately, I remember my dad looking for a razor blade or exact-o knife. Once he found a tool that would do, he went over to the brand new car and began scraping off the car dealership's logo from the back.
I went over to observe him, wondering what he was doing.
He looked at me and said, "This is my car, and I am not doing any free advertising for that dealership."
That was the end of that conversation.
It wasn't that my parents had a negative experience with the salesperson. I assure you, if that were the case, there would be no new car in the driveway.
My dad just hated labels.
He did not like clothing labels. He didn't particularly care if something was name-brand or not. And I never saw him sporting or using anything with a large corporate logo on it.
I believe it was all for the same reasons.
My dad refused to advertise or endorse companies, brands, or products.
But I know there were products and brands he did believe in:
Bisquick. My dad regularly bought and used Bisquick for cooking breakfasts. He believed breakfast was the most important meal of the day.
Listerine. As long as I knew my father, he had a bottle of Listerine in his bathroom. If your breath was terrible: Listerine. If your throat was sore: Listerine. He didn't particularly care for the dentist, but Listerine was an essential part of his mouth and dental care.
Honestly, that's about it.
His attitude towards name brand things is all the more ironic when considering his daughter has made a career out of marketing, making sure people stay loyal to products, brands, and businesses.
I do this primarily through social media channels.
The story of my dad and his new car has been circulating in my mind over the last few weeks when thinking specifically about social media – how we unknowingly label ourselves and advertise for brands, ideologies, and beliefs whenever we interact with something on these channels.
It could be innocuous as liking a brand post advertising a product, deal, or daily special. In the eyes of social media, that like counts as an endorsement of sorts, labeling you as a customer or potential customer.
For most of us, this innocent interaction is acceptable. We rarely think twice about it.
At other times, it can have unintended and negative consequences and connotations.
I've said it before that the things we interact with on social media are a big tell.
Indeed, if a like equals an endorsement, think of the things you've liked in the last few weeks.
Would you be comfortable publicly endorsing all of those things?
If your "likes" were a matter of public interest, would you be proud to have your face and name associated with those things?
There are countless stories of when the simple act of "liking" something has ramifications.
What about the things you follow?
Or who you're friends with?
Yes, even those types of interactions can be considered endorsements.
This blog post intends not to advocate for one belief system (or political ideology) over another but rather to encourage mindfulness in our social media activity.
Everything we do labels us in the eyes of social media companies and ultimately in the eyes of marketers, like me, who use these labels to target and serve ads to you.
What's more is that our friends and relatives see the types of things we like and interact with.
They're likely to label you as well.
What kind of labels would be associated with your online presence?
Are you happy with those?
Or would you, like my dad, be desperate to remove a digital decal or sticker, knowing if it remained, that you would be giving free advertising to something with which you might not want to be associated?