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Marrying for the money

Forget about phoning your mom. In today’s social media-saturated world, the first thing you need to do when you get…

By Rebecca teBrake , in Bride & Gloom: A social commentary on weddings , on January 12, 2009 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Forget about phoning your mom. In today’s social media-saturated world, the first thing you need to do when you get engaged is update your Facebook status.

It’s not only your friends and family that hear the big news. It’s the whole wedding industry.

As soon as the word “engaged” appears on your Facebook wall, so do ads for wedding planners, wedding photographers, wedding candles, bridesmaid dresses, wedding dresses, flowers, favours, and of course, fitness classes.

Nothing says congratulations like an ad telling you to lose 20 pounds.

Even the Indie I Do, Vancouver’s alternative wedding show, has an ad on Facebook.

The wedding industry’s affinity for Facebook is part of a larger marketing trend. This marketing trend uses surveillance to transform the personal, emotional and meaningful aspects of our lives into opportunities for profit. The worst part is that consumers invite it by putting every detail of their lives online.

This trend promises to hit with a vengeance in 2009. According to eMarketer.com, spending on social advertising will reach $1.3 billion in the United States in 2009.

Last Wednesday, Facebook-creator Mark Zuckerberg made headlines when he announced that the site has achieved 150 million users. He announced this milestone on his blog stating, “If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.”

This means Facebook delivers the eighth largest advertising market in the world and the personal details with it to enable the targeted marketing companies want at affordable prices.

In a downward-spiraling economy, social networking media is the last, great hope for cheap and effective ads.

Some of 2009’s first articles in publications like Business Edge News are about how to take advantage of the internet advertising boom through social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo or through user-generated content like Wikipedia.

A telecommunications company writing a Wikipedia entry on itself. Who would have thought?

Facebook isn’t the only place where businesses can peer into your personal life and send you invasive, customized, and, admittedly tempting, ads. MySpace has a MyAds feature. Google and its properties, Gmail and YouTube, are also cashing in on the power of the market.

Write an email about wedding photographers in your Gmail account and the right-hand side of your screen will be filled with potential candidates.

The last time I checked, marriage was an opportunity for two people to join their lives for eternity, in front of God, the state, family and/or friends. Now it seems the advertisers have made the guest list.

Social networking increases the ever-growing omnipotence of the market. It does so with the complicity of individual. We all put the information on Facebook willingly. It’s not some dark conspiracy, but something we allow, invite and collectively spend 2.6 billion minutes on daily.

If weddings can generate this many ads on Facebook, it makes you wonder what other categories of information Facebook should add the “Info” page. Health conditions? Race? Economic status?

The mouth of advertisers must be salivating with the possibilities.

Meanwhile, brides scramble to reply to the 343 acquaintances that have written congratulations on their Facebook walls.

Comments


  • So true… A sad state of affairs, isn’t it. So I’m wondering, will you send out invitations or just start a facebook event for your wedding day?

  • Decisions, decisions. I am going to be old-fashioned and give Canada Post some work. Facebook might put them out of business eventually.

    The hot new thing to do is opt-out on mailing back reply cards and get people to email their RSVPs.

    I’ll be writing more on the evolution of the invitation next time.

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