As I left a matinee of The Social Network on Sunday, I admit it: The first thing I wanted to do is check my Facebook. Whether or not the film’s intention is to hold the mirror up to our collective obsession with ourselves by showing the ruthless narcissistic nature of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, it is impossible to ignore that we are a society that seeks recognition. We clamor for comments about the pictures we’ve posted. We relentlessly check if anybody noticed how brilliantly written our status is. In short, we are all desperately seeking to be “Like” d.
Social media marketing and traditional advertising are tapping into this “please notice me” desire with campaigns that put the consumer front and center. Cosmopolitan magazine, which was launched for this nation’s original “Me Generation,” turned its readers into cover girls last week. Using Facebook Connect, Cosmo invited readers to upload profile pictures. The photos were then integrated into video and depicted Cosmo lovers as the stars of the campaign. Randomly-selected photos of Facebook followers were projected on a giant Times Square billboard. It’s a wise social media move from the Hearst Magazine publication, especially considering its goal has always been to inspire women to talk about themselves.
24-7 Creative is another campaign – this one from computer manufacturer HP – that has aspiring artistic types vying to be noticed. The online community associated with the campaign does more than just pat users on the back. It awards creative types who submit videos a big prize: Videos selected by a jury will be presented on YouTube and at Guggenheim museums worldwide. While 24-7 Creative offers unique opportunities for artists to get noticed, it is certainly a campaign from HP, a company that has been marketing its left-brain computers to right-brain types for years.
While all of this navel gazing seems a tad silly, it does signal a positive change in the way big companies market. Social media marketing, now more than ever, is demanding two-way conversations and interactions from consumers. Businesses that believe they don’t have to spotlight their customers are truly living in an atmosphere of old school, 1980s corporate narcissism and undoubtedly will be left behind. Should everybody be a TV star or have an album or have their blog turned into a book? Probably not, but we can’t deny that we as consumers want to be noticed. And, hey, maybe if we’re really egomaniacal, our lives will end up being a blockbuster movie.