The Marriage Of Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, AND Mcdonaldization (Or Why Do I Buy What I Buy?) Essays Examples
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I am a victim of marketing and I know it. My choices of what to buy and probably even if I want to buy it at all are influenced by the thousands of promotions that pop into my head daily. Billboards, television, internet, radio, print, T-shirts, signs, and many ever more innovative ways to steer my purchases toward specific products vie for my attention. Jay Walker-Smith, president of the marketing firm Yankelovich, states that advertising is a non-stop blitz with as many as 5000 exposures to messages a day (Johnson).
With the advent of the internet and hand-held technologies that exceed the geographic boundaries of the world, digital marketing has been developing approaches to guide consumers toward online spending through e-communications. Websites have pop-ups and side-bars of advertising, often disturbingly similar to a product search I have earlier conducted. Television has transcended the traditional commercial break to prompt upcoming shows in the corners of programs, sometimes so distracting I miss an important part of the show’s plot. Aside from renting entertainment (and being forced to watch the commercials before I can view the show) and visiting my local mall rather than shopping online (gasp!), digital marketing has become an accepted feature of communication.
Going hand-in-hand with digital marketing is social media marketing. Social media marketing takes advantage of a society that is becoming more involved in a faceless and anonymous community. The difference in other types of advertising is that in social media marketing, the consumer interacts with the promoter, forming relationships far beyond the traditional formats. Social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram provide access to multitudes of people grouped demographically by age, profession, and interests.
The concept of “McDonaldization” is related to digital and social media marketing in that of getting consumers to become unwitting marketers. Through spreading information from one consumer to the next through personal texts, billboards and the 30-second television commercial may become rendered obsolete. This essay addresses the relationships between digital marketing, social media marketing and the content of McDonaldization in order to present a personal account of how I consume products and what influences my decisions.
Digital marketing and social media marketing are based on the use of the internet by consumers. Since the introduction of internet access by the public in 1962 (Leinder et al), the
Figure 1: Internet use by country in 2012 (Steltzer)
numbers of users around the world has continued to rise. Internet World Stats (2015) states that in June of 2014 with the population of the world slightly over seven billion people, internet users number a little over three billion. Estimates are that by the year 2018 the number of people on the internet will be closer to 5 billion (Ryan).
Almost every company in the marketplace has a company website and uses it for interactive advertising, marketing through search engines, affiliate marketing with websites for other companies, and email marketing. Figure 2 shows the major types of channels generated by digital marketing: search marketing, public relations performed online, partnerships formed with the websites of other companies, communications offline, social media marketing, email
Figure 2. Main types of digital media communications channels (Frankwbaker.com)
consumers opt into, and interactive advertising. Digital marketing has become such an integral part of advertising budgets that a report issued by the Gartner Group states over 50 percent of the largest companies in the world increased their 2015 budgets for digital marketing by 8 percent (Burza).
Digital marketing is dependent on the internet and technological advances make processes such as email marketing, search engine optimization, and display advertising more cost effective as viable options. Websites that have competitive prices for their products with attractive rates for shipping retain Millennials (people born after 1980 that are comfortable with technology) as customers and they will even leave an online review if an incentive is offered (Smith). Other forms of digital marketing include podcasting, mobile instant messaging, wireless text messaging, voice broadcasts, and mobile apps. The size of the company and access to technicians dictate the types of digital marketing used, but skilled employees are becoming more available as implementation expands. Retention of customers occurs when the messages generated by the company effectively reaches the consumer based on how he places his brand loyalty, his values, his behavior, and his personal characteristics. Quantitative and qualitative data obtained through various sources is analyzed to create advertisements appealing each particular consumer on as many levels as possible (Chaffey).
Digital marketing has also created a delivery system never possible before. Tangible products can be ordered, payment sent, and shipment completed without ever speaking to a human being. In some cases, the product is sent to a physical outlet where the customer can pick it up for free and the business is saved shipping costs. However, with intangible products such as educational materials or other similar services, the customer orders the information, pays for it, and can immediately download it to their computer. Even printed materials are created by the customer, leaving the only cost to the business being creation of the product and the website promoting it. I did this with a system that teaches how to play the guitar. I submitted my payment online and downloaded the video to my computer immediately. I was very gratified that I didn’t have to wait a single hour to start becoming a musician. In addition, I am contacted by email every month to invite me, as a “special customer”, to purchase an additional “discounted” video.
There are few areas that have not been touched by digital marketing. For instance, your doctor’s office will have a website with information on the physician, how to contact the office, directions to the location for your appointment, and other links such as “7 Tips to get Ready for Your Appointment”. Many doctors now have patient portals for ordering prescription refills and obtaining test results. This allows a busy doctor’s office more time to tend to patients present in the office without endless telephone calls. And if a person can’t wait to get an idea of their physical diagnosis, they can visit websites like WebMD or dozens of other health related websites by typing their possible medical problem into the search engine. Frequently these sites will have side bars with solicitations for subscriptions to digital magazines, financial support for health organizations, or free health information to gather contact data.
Social media marketing also uses the information gathered concerning the preferences of the users of a particular site to recruit participants for causes such as environmental activities. In addition, solicitations for donations are frequently accompanied by photographs that graphically depict how the money can make a difference in the cause. While this type of marketing may be considered exploitative, it can appeal to the values of the user that were determined through data mining. It is common that the result of the marketing campaign is achieved and the user is enlisted in the beneficial cause of the client.
Related to digital marketing is social media marketing. People use social media differently than other types of internet activities. Social media allows individuals to connect with other people who think the same way they do to create global communities, sharing ideas and opinions (Ryan and Jones). Web 2.0 allows Facebook users to search for lost acquaintances, use Skype to video-call them, transmit photos, look up their home on Google Maps, and view their vacations on YouTube. Social media allows people the opportunity to interact in ways never before imagined.
Social networking sites provide consumers access to broadcasted profiles, allowing communication with other users to create a community based on similar interests; interest in the
Graph 1. Usage of Social Media Sites 2012-2014 (DigitalTonto.com).
sites are generated through referrals, an inexpensive way for companies to promote their products (Zhou, Wu, and Luo). Companies can sell their products to customer with the same marketing principles based on behaviors, attitudes, and ideas. Access to these specific target demographics is as simple as finding a social networking site that is frequented by the members of that group (social-marketing.com). As a firm evaluates the market performance of a presentation the value of the social networking site increases proportionately by the square of the number of consumers participating (Hanna, Rohm and Crittenden). Considering social networks generate trillions of connections every day, the number of consumer contacts is huge (Hansen, Schneiderman and Smith).
Research by the PEW Research Center (2014) found Facebook is by far the most popular social media site, possible due to the wide age range of users; older adults use their computers to visit the site while younger adults may use mobile apps (see Graph 1). Statistics found during the research shows the number of new users has slowed recently, but the length of time they spend on Facebook is longer. The other sites of LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter have also all shown higher numbers of adult users. More than half of the adult users go on more than one site and more than half are age 65 or older. About half of the adults ages 18-29 use Instagram, half of those with college degrees use LinkedIn, and most of the users of Pinterest are women with 42 percent aged over 65.
These numbers were of particular interest to me as a woman in almost 20 years old. I do have a Facebook page, but I spend the majority of my time on Twitter with my friends and on LinkedIn looking at profiles to get any great ideas for updating mine. My pattern of use places my demographics right in line with the study.
The product is social marketing is not necessarily physical. It can also be services such as how to stop smoking, practices like exercise programs, or even ideas. In order to enlist support for programs such as saving wildlife habitats, engaging people from particular social networking sites is possible. The idea is that the consumers on the sites have wants and needs and businesses can determine what they are and how important the participant feels about them from the interaction on the sites.
The digital age has changed the approach to branding; a company’s name is not just a corporate asset anymore – it represents entire communities of common beliefs (Satell). A study conducted in 2012 found that branding is possible on social networking sites when marketing campaigns offered significant advantages to the consumers (Erdoğmuş and Çiçek). It was important to offer content that was related to the demographics of the users of the site; there is no “one size fits all” when marketing on social media. Also, the consumers liked the presentation to be entertaining, accompanied by music, related to current technology, and available on a variety of platforms.
In order for social media to be effective, the member of the target market must not acquire negative impressions (Friedrichsen and Mühl-Benninghaus). Violation of internet ethics can alienate consumers by attempting to obtain access to prohibited areas, compromising the privacy of users, voluntarily or involuntarily introducing internet viruses, or wasting the time and resources of users. I have recently been frustrated trying to access information only to find the site so flooded with advertising I cannot negotiate the information and continued freezing of the site prevents my access; this type of activity does not make me inclined to use the links to these advertisers. Some other activities that are irritating are pop-ups, but coupons and side-panel advertising are not as offensive (Smith).
Shifting the discussion of digital and social media marketing to the topic of McDonaldization, this type of process was used as far back as when Henry Ford started mass producing automobiles (Mcdonaldization.com). The concept uses the idea that any task should use logically consistent rules, breaking each task down into smaller and smaller ones until the single most efficient method is discovered for each task; the other methods are then discarded. In theory, this results in a logical sequence of methods that have a predictable and controlled outcome of performance. However, the result sometimes is irrational and perhaps undesirable.
George Ritzer wrote in The McDonaldization of Society (2004) that there are four aspects to the process: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control. However, other aspects include irrationality, deskilling, and consumer workers. In other words, workers become burned out in unchallenging positions with opportunities for creativity that are easily replaced. The consumers themselves are used to clean their own trays, load their own trays at salad bars, conduct their own financial transactions at ATMs, pump their own gas, and fumble through telephone options that replace live operators. Further, Ritzer believes this type of rationalization has become a way of life in every aspect of personal interactions. The result is a continuity that becomes a state of numbness where people function automatically.
Social media and digital marketing has a number of similarities to the components of Mcdonaldization. Consumers work their way through links and search engines to find a site to their liking where they navigate the information without the assistance of a live person. From entering the site to placing an online order, the consumer performs all the tasks needed to perform the transaction alone. In the case of a social networking site, he or she not only performs all the function of the transaction alone, friends and family are referred to a preferred location, working in the capacity of a marketing representative without any compensation.
Personally, prior to reading the information on these three topics, I never gave a thought to pumping my own gas in any kind of weather, performing the financial transaction at the pump, washing my own windshield, and possibly driving through a car wash without a soul in sight to help me. This is the way many of the activities of today’s society function. However, the result is not always efficient; for instance, there are few individuals who have not made a telephone call needing assistance in a matter to find themselves trapped in a loop of options 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 and none of them met the definition of what was required. From personal experience, shouting at a recording is non-productive and simply raises stress levels. After numerous backtracking, some software will ask you to hold for a representative. You give a sigh of relief and are actually thankful to be placed on hold. Unfortunately, some software will ask you to try again later.
I can see in my daily life that the people around me are settling for the easy and safe way of living. Many of my friends have lost the drive and ambition I saw in them when we graduated from high school. Somewhere in the course of making a living, they have forgotten the reward of working for a goal and attaining it.
The digital world surrounds each of us every day. It is barely possible to escape the technology that initially seduced us with an entire world of escapism. Now, many people only live to be entertained. If your job is not fun, you quit it. If a goal requires work, forget it. Relationships are too hard to maintain, so break up with your significant other and stay at home with your computer and television and videogames.
Even more frightening is the simultaneous phenomenon of anonymity combined with the public posting of the most private details of your life to the internet. Social networking allows you to paint a picture of yourself as whatever you wish; you can gain the admiration of others without even speaking to them because you know you will never meet them in person. There is no chance of failure or rejection.
There is a very real possibility that individuals will cease to be productive members of society due to the influence of the digital world, social networking, and the concept surrounding McDonaldization. The public needs to be educated on the siren song of the internet and how to regulate their time in fantasy balanced with success in reality.
In the meantime, I try to pay close attention to the marketing strategies that influence my purchases. I am avoiding impulse buying, trying to live within my budget, and don’t put my personal information of the internet anymore than I have to. But it is nice to have so much information available when I do decide to make a purchase. Hang on, I just got a Twitter alert . . . .
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