Are We the Best Advertisers?

I remember when I was in high school, I would base my wardrobe on my friends and other students around me and I would get the video games that my friends said were “The best game ever!” When Kanye West wore those window blinds glasses, everyone had to get them (well at least I did..). And how did Member’s Only jackets become popular in the 80s? Or Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle on Friends? For the most part they were self promoted by your peers. Ellen P. Goodman’s reading “Peer Promotions and False Advertising Law” uses the term “peer promotion”. Peer promotion is basically the advertising of commercial products by the consumer. How often does a friend upload a photo of the new Halo or Call of Duty on Twitter or Facebook the first day of their release? How often do you see a status update on Facebook about the thoughts of one of the new movies that came out? If you think about it, it is amazing what “tremendous communicative power that individuals can wield through digital networks and the impact of this power on industrial economies.”, as Goodman says in the reading.

All the “peer generated” material posted on blog sites like Blogger or WordPress, and video sites like YouTube or Vimeo, are some of the strongest forms of advertising. These sites were made for the people, so the people can create the content. We read and watch what our own peers create. People have more trust in their peers’ “non-commercial” speech than the actual producer of the product. This proposes the question, is the consumer the best advertiser? Do your peers advertise the product better than the company?

I believe the consumer is the best advertisers. As stated before, social media has become the main proponent for consumer advertising and non-commercial speech.  The article “Social Media and the Power of Peer Influence” says that 70% of consumer’s buying decisions are influenced by suggestions from a friend or family member online. For the most part, on Facebook. One of the earliest examples of great consumer advertising through social media is one we looked at in class, the Diet Coke and Mentos video. Due to that video, the sales of Mentos increased tremendously. Mentos did not have to spend a dime. A more recent example is the Doritos commercial campaign. People could submit their own created Doritos commercials and the winner would have their commercial played during the Super Bowl. This is peer promotion because Doritos did not spend any money on the commercials. The consumers created the commercial, which made you go buy Doritos, and you may even watch the other submitted commercials on YouTube. More free advertising for Doritos.

The Goodman article says that Advertising Agency magazine, in 2006, named the consumer “agency of the year”. This is even truer today as social media continues to grow. More and more people are posting their opinions on blogs, creating wikis, and making YouTube videos and even more are listening. We trust each other more than we trust the company pushing the product. Some companies do not even have to engage in social media very much because of peer promotion. So, how are you going to base your next purchase? On what the advertiser says or on what the consumer says?


3 thoughts on “Are We the Best Advertisers?

  1. I also believe that the consumer is the best advertiser. When considering a purchase, I would trust a recommendation from a friend or peer before one from an advertiser. The reason is that your friends have nothing to gain from recommending a certain product, whereas advertisers are simply there to make money. My friends are also great advertisers because they let me know about products that I might not have seen otherwise. Even Instagram is a great tool for marketing. I follow a number of fitness and health trainers who post pictures of products that I wouldn’t even know to look for. Their recommendations mean more to me than an advertiser because they are actually using the products and I can see their results from the pictures they post. They also are not reaping any benefits from the manufacturers so I know that they are being honest with their recommendation. I feel that today companies need to be even more creative and utilize peer promotion, because it is one of their best tools for advertising.

  2. I agree with you saying that the consumer is the best advertisers. As a kid I know I wanted exactly what my friends wanted. If everyone in school had the “popular” shoes I wanted them too. For me I base my purchases off of what my friends have said about a certain product. The advertiser can go out and advertise how great they say their product is but if I dont know anyone that has personally gotten anything great from the product then I am not going to really believe it. Social media is one of the best ways to get peer recommendations. If someone does not like something you know they will for sure tweet about it, Facebook it and probably blog or YouTube their experience. Advertisers one goal is to make money off of anyone that they can. Your friends are not there to make money they are there to give you the best advice on a product. Company’s do use good techniques such as the Doritos one that you posted about and I feel like it is things that like that advertisers will have to do to be more creative in getting their brand out there.

  3. Friends absolutely have my trust where advertisers do not. According to the BizJournal article linked below, I’m part of the 92 percent of consumers worldwide who think that way.

    However, I feel like in almost every Facebook privacy update I have to opt out of being listed in community advertisements. The last time I looked over the “recommended” settings (which, admittedly, was probably too long ago) advertisers have the ability to list their fans photos and names in Facebook advertisements. They appear on the side of home newsfeed pages with the fan page and “[Your Friend’s Name] and [Your Friend’s Name] like [company name]” often with a recent post from the company.

    I like to know what my friends are interested in, if they explicitly tell me or share it on their own Facebook page. It weirds me out a little bit when a Facebook algorithm sees fit to tell me that one of my friends likes a page.

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