I had asked a LinkedIn guru whether he knew of a way to filter profiles based on personality types. He replied, “No.” A marketing professional might call this target marketing, but most targets are based on objective measurements such as gender, age, residence, job and income. Yet, even for those who fit these five, many different personalities exist. Different personalities respond differently to different marketing messages.
For example, in studying viral ads, Thales Teixeira (“The New Science of Viral Ads” [Harvard Business Review, March 2012 edition]) found “that whether or not an ad is shared depends as much on the personality types of viewers as on the ad itself.” Now, if we just change ad to product, we’ll have what will launch the real commercial importance of social media: assessing, identifying, filtering and reaching personality types within any market, target or otherwise, with a dynamically personalized message. A very intimate relationship between social media and big data will unavoidably result.
Diving deeper into this with Teixeira, he found two personality attributes most likely to share ads: extroversion and egocentricity. The attraction extroverts have for their external world makes sense here. Ad sharing is a form of interacting with that with which they find so attractive, the outside world.
Egocentricity is more complex. Teixeira initially thought sharing was helping others, something not normally associated with egocentricity. He eventually concluded:
. . . it’s because they are looking to increase their social status [see emotional recognition]. [Sending] an ad link isn’t to make others joyful; it’s to display their own taste, media savvy, and connectedness.
Essentially, social media activities help identify personalities. So, in this case, when the next great status item comes to market, we’ll not only know who’s likely to share the ad but also who’s likely to buy it.