Even if you never read George Orwell’s “1984,” you probably know at least the premise. Written in 1948, Orwell envisioned a futuristic society in which the government spies on the people and rigidly enforces certain prescribed behaviors while punishing people who violate the approved norms. One of the ways “Big Brother” keeps tabs on people is through their televisions. Fast forward to today. While there is no nefarious government agency bent on forcing us to regiment our lives, there are people and businesses out there using our electronic devices to figure out certain things about us. Most of this is applied from a marketing perspective.
One of the lesser known and underutilized methods of monitoring our electronic submissions to figure out what to sell us is called social media listening. It’s exactly what it sounds like it is. Social media listening involves companies deliberately searching people’s posts, tweets, likes, ‘iso’ requests and recommendations for keywords that describe their business or products. They then take the information you’ve provided in your own words and market to you based on the material you’ve provided them. Social media listening isn’t as widespread as you might think because it takes a sophisticated search engine and a person or team with the specific knowledge of both company marketing strategies and the technological savvy to successfully complete the search. As this takes time, it prevents many companies from capitalizing on this marketing approach.
We’re not talking the yummy ones that tempt you to break your diet. These cookies are the ones who track your progress across the internet. Some cookies are good and necessary, like the ones that sign you in to your e-mail or remember your banking information for you to help you log-in to that site. Be careful of third-party cookies, though. These little guys watch what you do on the internet to see how they can best identify your purchasing behavior. That information enables them to target you with advertisements tailored to tempt you to buy. While they’re supposed to get your agreement to be tracked by third-party cookies, you can’t always trust that. You can always choose to go behind yourself to delete these cookies or use an incognito browser to prevent the data collection in the first place. Incognito browsers aren’t fool-proof, though, so you’ll want to ensure you know those limitations.
Social media listening and collecting your browsing history through cookies are only two of the ways companies can discover your likes and dislikes to better market to potential clients.