Only a few short years ago, I remember always taking the free phone option when my cell phone contract was up. Why in the world would I need to buy an expensive phone? The free phones work just fine for me. I have a laptop and a PC. How could I possibly need the internet on my phone?
My life definitely changed when I bought the first Motorola Droid. I could now be even lazier. Instead of getting out my laptop to pay my bills, I could just pay them on my phone. I could listen to Pandora whenever I wanted to, watch YouTube, download books, or browse ebay. What was I thinking living in the dark ages without a smartphone?
Regardless of the $30 per month internet charge that I wasn’t used to, it was obvious that there was no going back to the old flip phone after my first smartphone. Life had changed, for better or for worse.
We are all social consumers in some way this day and age. This means we leave a digital footprint everywhere we use the internet. Whether you share photos from your afternoon at the park with your followers on Instagram, or use Twitter to vote for your favorite act on America’s Got Talent, you are leaving a trail of your digital self behind you. Marketers follow this trail so they can lie in wait with the best ads to interest you.
A few weeks ago the director of digital media for the University of Louisville, Jeff Rushton, came to speak to my social media class. I had never really thought much about algorithms coupled with social media. He explained how algorithms for Facebook or Google control what banner ads we’re shown, as well as what posts we see on our news feed. We don’t see all of our friends posts in our news feed anymore, only what Facebook’s algorithm decides is relevant for us.
Rushton told us that the previous weekend his wife was using her laptop in the office at their home, while he was working in another room. Rushton said he wasn’t using any social media sites at the time, but Papa Johns ads started popping up. He called into the other room, asking his wife what she was up to. She was apparently on Papa Johns’ website picking out what kind of pizza to order for family dinner. Rushton explained that Google knows he and his wife are married, connects their home IP address, and instantaneously put two and two together.
Smartphones have taken us to a new level of social consumption and connectivity. Now more than ever, many people are actually addicted to the social networks that we have come to rely on, on a day to day basis. Companies have round the clock employees who are ready to answer our questions through web chat programs or engagement with hashtags to respond to customer service questions.
This infographic shows how social sharing effects us as consumers.
When you’re in a new city and want to find the best pizza joint, previously you may have asked the desk clerk at your hotel for a recommendation. Now, most of us will check Urbanspoon or Yelp to see what restaurant has the best reviews or the most stars.
Our generation is completely immersed and there is no going back now. What would we do without being socially connected constantly? Really? What would we do. Our technologically advanced world has broadened our horizons, but don’t forget to talk to the person you’re eating lunch with instead of browsing your Twitter feed or playing Words With Friends on your phone.
Thanks for Reading,