My views are not up for sale

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Yesterday I met someone from a social media agency. I cannot get into the details of how I met this person or why. He told us about ways to promote your brand on facebook/instagram. I know vague details about this stuff because I am very active online and can see ads following me everywhere. The good part about using Windows apps is that none of the official apps are available on it. Which means I don’t have to deal with ads when I use twitter/instagram/facebook on the phone. They are not able to track my movements on the phone. But using the laptop or Ipad is a different ball game altogether. Everything is tracked. Social media knows what I like, who I meet, where I travel, what I shop for, which are my favourite websites, what kind of porn I like, where I work, how many kids I have etc etc etc.

I have been limiting the kind of information I put online. I have removed work details from facebook because they are irrelevant. Unfortunately, this is the time when Linkedin has started becoming more ‘facebookey’ and now people can wish you on your ‘work anniversary’.

Work anniversary = When you finish a year in your job without getting sacked or quitting in frustration. HUGE achievement

But am digressing, this post is about the discussion yesterday.

This is what I learned.

Please note- I knew this but hearing it from someone just makes it feel so much more sinister

  • A brand/agency can target ads basis your job profile, age, geographical location, areas you check in to etc etc. Instead of sending flyers with newspapers in a particular area, you can just choose what kind of people in which area see the ad. And you can track whether the ad worked or not. If it did, they can bombard you with further ads.
  • The agency has a 20-30 (food) bloggers they work with. They review places when the agency requests them to. I am sure they get paid to do so though this person didn’t specifically mention it. Here is the fun part – the bloggers will only write what the agency wants them to AND only put up the pics they want. Basically, the entire post is ghost written. This also happens in case of beauty bloggers. It isn’t a coincidence that a Mumbai based beauty blogger has been sent to Paris for a workshop by La Roche Posay.

I read diverse blogs online so I know what is paid and what is a genuine review. Like, last week I saw many food bloggers in Delhi putting up pics about Farzi Cafe’s new outlet opening on instagram. It was a big party which even Vir Sanghvi attended. The hilarious part was how ALL the food bloggers posted the same picture of a painting in the outlet and talked about the exact same thing. And then they talked about the same dish.

And you would have seen the big mess that Jio’s celebrity tweets caused during the launch. You didn’t? Basically, all the celebrities from Shahrukh Khan to Sonakshi Sinha sent out the exact same tweet during the launch. People caught up on what was happening and laughed their asses off at the PR agency who didn’t even bother to send out different tweets from different accounts.

I love social media but am acutely aware about it’s dark side. In the end, the product sells. If the product is bad, no amount of freebies, paid reviews, professionally shot instagram pictures are going to bring in the revenues.

PS : A restaurant chain I do not like has invited me for a food meet. I am going to attend it. And write about it on my other blog but only genuine stuff. My views are not up for sale.

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