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Using the Social Media to Advertise and Campaign

With the prolific growth of social media today, it’s hard for companies to ignore it. For Tesla, social media has become their powerful source of advertising. Through the word-of-mouth of many owners, a huge amount of hype was generated, and that was enough to get people excited and interested in Tesla’s cars. At the same time, the people can also leverage social media to provide feedback that can potentially be damaging to a company’s market. For example, when Victoria’s Secret ran a controversial ad campaign, many people protested it on social media, forcing the company to revise the ad.  Social media has created a two-way bridge between the consumers and the companies, and when utilized properly, can be beneficial to both parties.

In this two-way bridge created by social media, we can see two distinct systems of information cascade happening. The first is the information cascade generated by the companies. In the example of Tesla, a good strategy will be to sell the first cars to people with many friends (aka. nodes) and preferably also many mutual friends. Therefore from our model of information cascade through a network, all of those friends will likely be persuaded to be interested in the Tesla. Due to the largely connected social media being modeled as one giant component, the “interest” will then be ideally cascaded to almost everyone throughout the world. The second is the information cascade generated by the people. In this case, it is a slightly modified form of an information cascade. We can think of all of the people as similar nodes with similar switching thresholds. Then, all of the people are connected to the company, but the company has a different switching threshold (meaning that it will change its decision/action if at least a certain number of people have the opinion). In this network, the people will also have connections between each other due to the nature of social network. Therefore, with the help of information cascade, a strong opinion can quickly gain huge popularity and force the company to make a change.

Social media also brought changes to the way politicians campaign. In the 2012 presidential race, Obama’s campaign was the first to use social media to garner votes. While it was not very successful (due to overhype), it shifted a lot of focus on social media campaigning. Currently, presidential campaigns are able to and have gathered a huge amount of data on the voters, but are having a tough time converting these data to useful campaigning strategies. In the future, data and social scientists hope to use these data with social media to predict how easy/hard it is to persuade a voter. This in turn can be used to perform direct campaigning to certain people and hopefully provide a more effective campaign.

Again, information cascade is at play here. It is likely that one of the strategies is to target people that are easily persuaded and also have many mutual friends that are also easily persuaded. With our network diffusion model, this is an ideal strategy that can leverage information cascade to change voters minds. In the prediction model, we can also attempt to use information cascade to make it easier to persuade a person by targeting many of his/her friends. With the right algorithm, predictive persuasion can be a powerful tool in political campaigns and also any other campaigns in general.

New Technologies, New Marketing

Voters, Algorithms, and Persuasion


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