Over the weekend, I do something I rarely do: I got involved with a Facebook meme. It didn’t require an app install, nor did I receive “points” of any kind for inviting my friends. I simply played along when a friend tagged me in her LifePod post. Create a note, copy and paste, do some tagging, and you’re done. It was fun!
The fact that it seems very natural for those who enjoy social networks to tag one another, share links, or make things for other people to look at online, is one of the more central reasons social media and marketing are so often mentioned in the same breath. I can practically see the drool when Twitter people or bloggers get going on the possibilities these voluntary networks offer to marketers. And these days, the number of people like me who reject being marketed to in this way, is a shrinking demo.
I played along with LifePod precisely because I knew that no new apps would be installed, and that my friends would not be bombarded with requests to match their IQs or test their film knowledge or even throw sheep, with some Facebook gadget as an intermediary. Social networking with marketing and sponsored gadgets is like a government with a bloated bureaucracy. At some point, the structure created to organize a fun or useful activity tends to weigh it down, making people less willing to buy in.