Are Our Multiple Personalities Shaping Web Advertising?

It is a given that the way most people act differently around different groups of people. The way people are around their parents is certainly not how they are around their friends. You might be docile and quiet around your parents, then turn around and be outgoing and boisterous around those in your peer group. In high school one of my teachers had the class do an activity where we were required to write down the different groups we belonged to and how we conducted ourselves in each group. The groups might have included school, work, home, friends, etc. Not a one of the students in my class answered that they were the same in each group. We regular people are the only ones who do this sort of personality breakup. Celebrities have admitted that they behave differently in different circumstances as well. Chloe Mortez (known for her work in Dark Shadows and Hugo) in a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel has said that she is crazy around her friends, but acts more reserved when she has to do a show.

This question was posted on Seventeen Magazine’s  website by totallytaboo in 2009:

Does your personality change for different people?

Are you pretty much the same around everyone you meet, or different for certain people, and what are those groups? (ie, you’re a snob around people you don’t like, normal with your friends, and a total cougar around guys XD) Just curious!

The answer was a resounding yes. But what does this all have to do with Social Media? The thing is that if we have different personalities when communicating with different people in real life situations, wouldn’t we also have dissimilar personalities when it comes to the different social networking sites that we use? In September 2009 an article on Mashable written by Jamie Becklandentitled Why Mainstream Social Networks Complicate Our Identities looked at the phenomenon of having different personalities on different social networking site. One example that Beckland used was the Facebook and LinkedIn, “allow users to create and maintain separate and distinct parts of their identity with different social circles. For example, your friends are on Facebook, but you find business colleagues on LinkedIn.” This is an extremely valid point and the where this idea of multiple personalities on the web gets complicated is when advertisers are trying to market a certain item or service online. They must use different perspectives when it comes to the different sites, “For example, the Droid Users group on LinkedIn may be interested in a device’s productivity benefits, while the Droid Facebook Fans may be more inclined toward gaming apps.”

Most of us create different personalities on the internet via the different social media outlets that we interact with, just as we have different personalities with the differing face-to-face people we interact with.  We are friendly and open on Facebook, but might use Twitter or LinkedIn in a more professional manner.  How do our different personalities affect the way that advertisers promote their products or services on the web? Will there be differing advertisements for the same thing in different site? Has this already happened?

I, for one, haven’t seen very much of this kind of specific advertising yet. I know that if there is an advertisement for a new mobile phone, for example, it will be the same advertisement that I see on Facebook, on a blog, or on differing websites. It is interesting to think that we may possibly see advertising closely tailored to our ever expanding repertoire or personalities that we are creating on the web.


2 thoughts on “Are Our Multiple Personalities Shaping Web Advertising?

  1. Excellent post! I completely agree with your argument that people have multiple personalities when it comes to their identities online. For me, I’ve seen advertisements differentiate between each personality/site I use. On Facebook and Twitter, I’m me – nerdy, funny, and friendly. Advertisements around these sites are geared to my sense of fashion, food, and films I’ve placed interest in while on these sites. Meanwhile, when I peruse Tumblr or leave some comments on imdb, my tastes are more pinpoint leaving advertisers less room to apply necessary ads for these tastes. They aren’t as general and I’m far less open-minded to their ads. When you break it down, it all depends on the identity you’re invoking while on each website you visit. It is weird to think that we could have such varying personalities separated by social media and the internet in general but, when you think about it, in real life, our personalities are layered in all sorts of ways giving us many facets. Just another way of the internet mirroring reality more than we feel comfortable with, huh? But why else do we also keep our real names secret, our addresses private, etc. There are far more important things that can be abused and bullied online other than our personal information. A scary thing to think about but that’s the internet for you. Or, at least, that’s what my mom always says.

  2. What a neat class assignment! What class did you do that for?

    I definitely agree with Shelley and although I hadn’t thought about it until now (I just double checked my social media pages) there are differences between the advertisements. The ads that are alongside my Gmail account are mostly directly related to the topic(s) of my recent e-mails. It’s based on “what I’m writing” and it’s easy, and often comical, to see what keywords they pulled to target the advertisement. I’ve actually found them to be relatively helpful if I’m sending out a whole bunch of feeds to book a certain type of guest for a show.

    More on the identity side of things, Facebook and LinkedIN both target me based on “who I am” in their respective spaces. On Facebook I get lots ads for UNT, social media, and Austin places. They’re mostly written very casually. On LinkedIN I get lots of social media, SEO, and marketing advertisements and they’re mostly written very professionally. There is quite a bit of overlap for me, but the tailored advertisement information on each site is certainly worth noticing.

    I haven’t noticed any differing advertisements for the exact same product on different platforms, but consider me on the lookout.

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