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Seducing the Social Super Ego

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A thought piece presented by the Digital Lab and prepared by Sarah Jane Blackman and Pierre-Jean Choquelle of Proximity Paris dissecting the phenomenon of modern-day digital social expression and the Super...

Text of Seducing the Social Super Ego




EGOFeb 2011

IntroductionSocial performance culture. p. 3The Social Super Ego. p. 4

Observing the Social Super Ego in action. p. 7The arts and crafts of image management. p. 10Lifecasting: updating existence. p. 15The many shapes of digital endorsement. p. 19The rush of personal branding. p. 21

The brand reactions so far. p. 25Boosting the Social Super Ego. p. 26The Social Super Ego as part of the brand story. p. 28Giving the Social Super Ego a purpose. p. 30Playing with the Social Super Ego. p. 34

3 steps to seduce the Social Super Ego. p. 39

Conclusion. p. 45

Bibliography. p. 46

Acknowledgements. p. 47

Links. p. 48


1Today, admitting to a digital native that you are not present on a social network such as Facebook or Twitter is somewhat of a social faux pas. It gets them wondering, have you nothing to say? Have you no friends? Perhaps you are social outcast, or just totally uncool? Its as if there is a whole part missing from you,a sense of you dont exist until you are there. One could easily say that social networks have become such a natural mode of self-expression that they are now seen to be the tool for defining who you are.

While on the outside much of social networking looks like a seamless extension of real life, the context for creating our identity is clearly not the same as in the real world. The digital environment is an unpredictable, evolving territory. A ubiquitous nervous system that is transparent, fluid, public, and permanently on. We are experiencing a turning point in history, where our psychological reflexes are learning to adapt rapidly to a series of very unusual challenges. How to express yourself when you dont know who might be reading you? How to give a real sense of your personality in 3 images and a list of film preferences? How to say you are in love to your friends, without all your colleagues at work knowing? Defining ourselves in this public networked universe demands a whole new approach,

and a whole set of survival tactics to be heard, to be seen, to BE.

It is questionable whether today we really understand the true impact of social media on consumer psychology, nor the extent of self promotion mania driven by our need to broadcast our uniqueness to the world. So far brands have been in such a blind race for fans, in such fear of not getting a word in, that they have been neglecting the motivations of the social individuals they are targeting. The social contract established with consumers can consequently feel very contrived, based on conversations such as If You LIKE me, you could win a.... Empty promises that certainly drive a few likes, but do not address the social persona in its totality.

The idea is that by understanding how consumers create their identity in the social space we can move beyond a defensive strategy of mirroring basic narcissistic desires. This will ultimately help us create long-term relationships, and get a deeper sense of ourselves in our quest to build inspiring digital brand identities.



It was a current belief in the age of the avatar and social phenomena like Second Life, that having a digital identity was a thoroughly liberating affair. You could prance around as an oversized rabbit or a Celtic warlord and say what you liked to anyone. There were no limits; people could safely hide behind the imagination of their fantasy selves. Yet with the advent of the nanonymous networks and public rating systems, all this has changed. Social media tools have become part of real life, not just for meeting fellow wizards, but finding a job, seducing a wife, or even couch surfing. As a result identity creation has become quite a serious matter, requiring a considerable amount of conscious thought to represent ourselves in a way we feel happy with. And as the goals of these networks become more precise, the pressure becomes more elevated to perfect our role.

Role-playing and the notion of performance is nothing new to identity creation. Erving Goffman, the famous American sociologist demonstrated that identity is a continual performance that we adapt, mostly unconsciously, in function of our social situations, to fit into societal norms. Yet in the digital world this performance culture has taken on a life of its own, becoming a very conscious activity.

Social performance culture

What emerges with Twitter and Facebook users is a clear tendency to use social media instrumentally for self-conscious commodification. In other words they create their online identities for the purpose of being consumed by others. Some even argue that its all becoming a rather addictive and pathological reflex (see MIT author Sherry Turkle). Researchers in Stanford University are suggesting that our social performances are so augmented that they are having a negative effect on their audiences, fuelling deep dissatisfaction as they compare Facebook profiles with the reality of their own lives.

Karaoke Revolution, 2011 Konami Digital Entertainment.


The point of this article is not to say that Facebook is the evil of mankind, labelling all social media users as pathological narcissists. But rather to acknowledge, that in this very transparent, public environment, most of us will show a tendency to perform for an audience with varying degrees of awareness and intention. Whether you are a professional anarchist, Italian food lover, or proud new mum, the pressure is ON to get your performance in shape. While the lack of identifiable audience is a major factor in this pressure, (it could be your mum looking at your profile, or a boy you secretly fancied for years), there are other elements that exacerbate it. Social platforms are imbued with their own linguistic culture that promotes the limelight gaze. Whether it revolves around likes, fans, followers, diggs, we are tacitly reminded of the high expectations we have to live up to, of what others want to see and hear from us, and not just twice a week. Mobile social connectivity and geo-location services now mean we are increasingly expected to be here, there and everywhere, in real time, simultaneously.

The Social Super Ego

In this paradoxical, pressured universe, it is no wonder that our minds have to do some significant mental acrobatics to readjust. Possibly the most simple and interesting way to understand this mental shift is through the prism of psychoanalysis. This is not a neuroscientific explanation, but rather a metaphoric one, that helps frame the issue within the context of performance and every day life. On a basic level Freud tells us that the mind is structured with the three infamous actors: the id, ego and the super ego, each with their own role, making it possible for us to function and fit in to society. The ego is the peacekeeper, surrounded by an instinctive Id, constantly seeking pleasure, and a very socially aware Super Ego, striving for perfection and acceptance. With the advent the social media, it seems that the Super Ego, is becomingly increasingly dominant and conscious in this threesome, to the point where it hogs the entire stage. While Freud and Dr. Elias Aboujaoude (Stanford Researcher) would regard this a highly dysfunctional dynamic, one could argue that such hyper activity has evolved into a radically new psychological asset. For the first time ever, within hours, anyone can envisage becoming a contagious Internet meme, and even start a revolution.

Either way the specifics of the digital social stage have given birth to a new kind of performer that is an augmented version of his Freudian cousin. We call it the Social Super Ego. Constantly on a high from making new connections, and obsessed with nourishing its infinite audience, it always presents itself in the best light possible. It is highly creative, and often goes to great lengths to produce an ideal model of itself with whatever media there is to play with (images, text bites or video). Hyper alert and hypersensitive, it censors and filters anything that threatens its reputation. While all this seems rather unnerving, there comes a point where we can no longer ignore, or label it as an anomaly of digital media. It does not take much reflection to notice that the impulse is so strong in each one of us. The Social Super Ego should be named and recognized, if we are to ever get to grips with understanding how to communicate and impact our consumers online.

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Observing the SocialSuper Ego in actionThere is no better way to understand this psychological phenomenon than to observe it in its natural habitat. To give you the best possible insight, we have explored a range of social behaviour that show the different levels of Social Super Ego expression. From simple acts of photo management on Facebook right through to fictive self promotion streams on Twitter, we can see that unless people have made a deliberate choice to remain off the grid, the rest of us are always conscious of the audience gaze.

Cosmic 140, 2010 iA Inc.

Social Super Ego exposed

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Its the first step, what will represent you in the digital space, your first introduction to the world. Its your profile picture; your idealized mirror image. Whether you prefer to change photos everyday or stay with the same forever, profile pictures are never picked at random, because even saying, I dont care takes some thinking.

Image obsession

Contrary to the early-web era, profile pictures are nowadays a living, breathing part of our online life and no longer mere representations of our virtual persona. With the introduction of profile albums, Facebook has intensified the need to play around with the way we decide to portray ourselves, encouraging users to display ever-changing depictions of their moods through time. And of course, this also means paying acute attention to the way your image is being displayed by others. Monitoring party pictures and past-bedtime updates has become more than a necessary evil. Tag-management is a skill, mastered by even the lightest users who painstakingly remove tags from embarrassing or unflattering pictures or even add them to pictures that do them more justice.

The arts and crafts of image management

Design by Alexandre Oudin

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A transformative art

People employ a surprising amount of creative energy to create their ideal image. The recent Facebook profile page re-design provides even more opportunities to get an original profile. Numerous services outside Facebook offer solutions for users to play with their own image. Photofunia for example allows you to integrate your own picture into a specific scene without any editing skills needed. A sign of evolution, profile pictures can now even serve as a media to express political opinions or belonging to a certain cause. This practice, more often seen on Twitter, was popularized by Twibbon, a service that allows you to enhance your photos with specific banners, frames or symbols of social causes, movements of all sortsor just-for-fun extravaganzas.

Something of a science

Ultimately, profile pictures are the perfect means to become as attractive as possible for friends and potential love interests alike. As such it is, and will always be a serious matter. Shooting yourself in the best light possible is such a precise craft that rules and guidelines have been conceived, discussed and challenged. Among the infamous tricks, the Myspace angles (placing the camera above the face, cropping most of the body) have even become a staple of profile-picture-shooting trickery and ultimately one of the thousands of Internet memes out there.

The number of profile-tweaking addicts is reaching such height that shooting the perfect profile picture has even been broken down into somewhat of an art form. It has been rigorously made fun of by Fastcompanys hilarious chart and very seriously studied by dating website Okcupid, which revealed the key components for taking the perfect eye-catching profile pic. Apparently using a flash will add seven years to your face and a shallow depth of field will make you more appealing.

1. , 2009 Storm Ideas 2. A graphic guide to Facebook portraits, Designed and written by Doogie Horner ,


2 2007-2011 PhotoFunia

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Lifecasting: updating existence

Social networking and its transformation into mobile applications have accustomed users to openly promote every aspect of their lives. A bad mood, a new job, a spiritual reflection, a sudden rant anything is good for sharing and everything is done to encourage this update frenzy.

From reflecting to broadcasting

It is no longer about reflecting back on your day and writing down your emotions (as people did with blogs or personal diaries) but rather, commenting on your own life as it happens, to an audience that is not clearly known. The developments of micro-blogging services have encouraged people to be more instantaneous and have normalized short-easily-digested updates. As a result, social networks are buzzing with hundreds and thousands of individual streams vying for attention (its been determined that 95% of updates go un-noticed).

A bittersweet necessity

Whether it is a full-on approach or a damage-control habit, visual management is now an essential part of digital life. The risks of losing control are well anticipated, from employees google-searching candidates or mothers monitoring an unsuspecting sons photos. Perhaps the most vibrant example of image and reputation manipulation skills is that of a young girl who managed to take revenge on her ex-boyfriend by turning him into an Internet meme. Using a meme-generator website, she flooded Google images with dozens of classic lolcat-like pictures of the unfortunate fellow. Not that he could really have prevented such an attack (apart from being a better boyfriend).

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From taking pictures to making pictures

Visual life-casting is fuelled by the rise of mobile usage and accelerated by the simplification of picture/ video taking and sharing. Forget digital cameras: smartphones, devices such as Flip, and apps such as Instagram greatly facilitate and encourage on-the-go shooting and sharing. For regular to heavy users of social networks, debating what to share online as they experience life has become a natural reflex. Taking that blurry picture of Prince on your way to his exclusive concert is less about pleasing you, but more about the kudos from showing it off to your Facebook audience.

Interestingly, new platforms are emerging that key into both of the previously explored trends, mixing the desire to broadcast daily life with acute Super Social Ego-building needs. Sites like Go Try It On or the hill-inspired Fashism enable users to share full-body photos in order to receive advice on their looks before trying them out in real-life. An endorsement thats not so much about fashion than self-actualization. 2011 Go try it on 2011 Twitpic Inc. 2011 Polyvore 2010 KODA AUTO a.s. 2011 Foursquare

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The many shapes of digital endorsement

Showing what we enjoy evidently says a lot about us. In the past few months, social networks have dramatically shifted the way we express our passions. It used to be a question of filling the details on your profile, depending on your own motivation to do so. You could appear edgy by putting a quote from an obscure 1930s Finnish book but chances are, nobody would really pay that much attention to it. Nowadays, broadcasting your tastes is paramount to a successful social presence.

So what if I LIKE

The first landmark of this era, the expansion of likes outside Facebook, established a standard in content endorsement. It also ironically diluted the meaning of the action itself, making it a banal and forgettable part of online usage. Things have changed since the infamous fan page era. Now, a like on or outside of Facebook is for most people a mix of support and self-expression thats easy to display but ultimately doesnt imply much. In an effort to reframe value of the like, brands have even tried to monetize it. One of the most blatant examples is the campaign launched by Skoda on Facebook that transformed likes into euros in an inverted bidding system. Anyway, it is now impossible to access any brand pages content without paying with your like.

Advocacy becomes play

The highest level of endorsement is however what we decide to actively share by making an actual effort to copy/ paste a link or click on a share button. Videos, articles and other links to content that interest us become the staple of our personal culture and vision when displayed on our wall and our feed. An exercise rendered difficult by the sheer volume

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The rush of personal branding

of information, creating a need to browse more efficiently through the cluster. Social relevance seems to be the hottest trend, with services such as enabling users to share streams of archived information based on topics they feel expert in. Others can then follow such a user based on his ability to select relevant content.

Increasingly referred to as curation, information filtering to spread the best picks to our network is facilitated even by major websites. Mashable just launched the follow feature making curating, sharing and connecting easier and rewarding since the site also gives badges depending on user activities. Content even curates itself with applications like flipboard, postpost or, transforming the most popular content form your network into a beautiful magazine. Each edition of or pospost can be shared as is by users, contributing to their reputation as keen selectors.

This personal content-centric trend materializes best through recent websites that encourage curating, remixing and sharing a unique patchwork of existing content. Polyvore is a great example. The shopping website doubles as a collective fashion trend exploration tool where users can compose their own lookboards from selected shop items. The boards are then shared, rated and discussed; the most popular being featured on the homepage. You can shape yourself as a fashion expert, depending on the popularity and relevance of your creativity and choice.

For most people, social networks present formidable opportunities to become more than just a number in the crowd, which they will gladly indulge. For most regular social network users, the digital realm can quickly become a racetrack to popularity.

Influence as a mass product

Because social networks make sharing and consuming content dramatically easier, the notion of influence is becoming mainstream. If your eye is trained enough and you share content thats relevant to many people, you dont even need a blog anymore to build a following. Young networks such as Twitter encourage the concept of everyone as influencer by pushing semantics like followers, followings. There is a real feeling that when someone subscribes to your account, they somehow pledge allegiance to you. If you have a Twitter account, you know how great it feels when you reach 100, 500 or even a 1000 followers and you also know how serious this seems to everyone. Twitter has fuelled an addictive need to pay attention to your audience and calculate your influence scores.Services such as Klout have emerged to calculate influence scores based on an algorithmic breakdown of a user Twitter activity and responses. 2011 Smallrivers SA

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Mainstream expertise

The development of common knowledge mines and social networks has enabled anybody to claim expertise over any topic. In a world where facts are easily accessed and researched, opinions are more easily expressed and spread and users claim the right to be heard.Remember the pioneers of Youtube broadcasting?So many are now considered stars of their own little niche that it has become nearly impossible for newcomers to access that same level of attention, never mind brands. That doesnt prevent them from trying, though: platforms like Vyou give you the opportunity to advertise your knowledge by posting video replies to community questions. This form of amateur expertise mixes the need to show off with the need to express every opinion whatever the topic, popularized by Q&A platforms such as Ask or the recently hyped Quora.

Routine brand management

Even if everyone is not so involved in turning themselves into brands; it is paramount to understand the position social networks are putting people in. By pressuring them to be better than the next person, by giving them new tools to easily broadcast and promote themselves, they have trained people in the arts of PR, branding, SEO and CRM, producing a Social Super Ego that less and less inclined to trust or even consider many brands as necessary.

Creating your own website doesnt imply spending long hours developing a unique platform, but only registering to design services such as that showcase the totality of a digital presence. The result is a tastefully arranged design, topped with a nice vanity URL ensuring maximum google impressions.

Extreme examples of personal branding include that of Brian; a young boy freshly arrived in NYC who created to find love. Everyday he encouraged his community to give him looks, dating suggestions, and broadcasted every step of his journey to love., created by Andr Peniche (photographer / filmmaker) 2011 smartup ltd

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THE BRAND REACTIONS SO FARIn a valiant effort to embrace the social media craze, many brands have inadvertently spotted the Social Super Ego and opportunities to exploit it. We have seen a host of creative tactics emerging, ranging from seemin-gly gimmicky Social Super Ego traps, like fan showcasing, to more long-term engagement programs integrating it into the very heart of the brand narrative. While some have been quite effective at collecting fans, it all seems rather random, with no clear strategy. It still feels as if brands are constantly in catch up mode, trying their best to anticipate and respond to the whims of a hyper confident social animal.

2011 Dr. Ing. h.c.f. Porsche AG.

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Boosting the Social Super Ego

Undoubtedly, people enjoy the digital world because it gives them many opportunities to be someone they are not. They mould their identity by racing after tokens of difference and privilege. In an age where users can make and break brands, many companies have decided to give back by flattering the Social Super Ego. They sense the consumer desire, to be valued, and recognized for what they really are. The occasional superstaring is always nice, but simplicity seems more in order.

Take an extreme case such as Benettons Its : my : Time campaign, a worldwide online amateur casting for Bennetton brand lovers. People were put in the limelight for their unique qualities as individuals, and not transformed into glittering berhuman models.

Caring for people, one at a time

A people centric approach needs to be as authentic and driven as possible. Forget gimmicks such as Oreos Worlds Fan Of The Week, which features a fan photograph in the profile image of the brands international fan-page. We are more interested in campaigns such as Old Spices video responses that personally addressed consumers almost in real time. Even though the example has been used to death, we feel it truly created a rare sense of proximity and an emotional connection that many try to replicate.

Showing random acts of kindness

We feel the most interesting examples of Social Super Ego boosting are those initiating from a desire to surprise consumers when they least expect it. We are notably thinking of Burger Kings Whopperface where clients were served burgers with their face printed on the packaging. It was such a intimate surprise that many felt motivated to take a picture and share amongst their social networks.

Being grateful for love

With so many brands reaching high likes numbers on Facebook, its no surprise that so many feel like giving love back to their fans. The best examples include Heinekens PR stunt where girls sporting Heineken branded like logos raided nearby bars to hug Heineken drinkers. Or there is Porsches impressive GT, flocked with the names of all its Facebook likers. We also like the effort of French Sports magazine LEquipe who personally dedicated a national

print-ad to its 100000th fan. Beware though, it is not long before such efforts will become mere gimmicks and the positive empowering effect of brand love vanishes.

One million Heineken hug

2011 Heineken USA Inc.


The Social Super Ego as part of the brand story

We have seen how the Social Super Ego can be materialized into a story-telling experience, but it can also be taken a step further, allowing users to feel even more integrated, while still catering to their basic narcissistic needs.

Designing people to design the story

Uniqlos Uniqlooks is the perfect example of such an approach. The micro-site displays dozens of street pictures of real people sporting one or several Uniqlo items. Facebook and Twitter profile info are attached to each amateur model, giving them maximum micro-fame exposure. Their collection of images, tells the story of fashion as Uniqlo sees it.Other creative usages of such insights include one from French

Photographer David Ken and his LOL Project. A valiant attempt to promote French joie de vivre as well as his own work by casting hundreds of real people from across France and shooting them all in laughter.

Curating and managing content

The 2010 Grammy Awards campaign Were All Fans is another great example of Social Super Ego narrative. The micro-site reconstituted mosaic images of various pop stars by feeding Youtube and Twitter content from the crowds.

Each fan cover, each admirable tweet became part of a wider ode to fandom and stardom. 2010 Cannes Direct Grand Prix Winner Orcon crowd-sourced fan covers from Iggy Pops greatest hits in order to cast an amateur band with members across New Zealand. The band then proceeded to record a whole new version of Passenger with Iggy himself over the Internet. The talent of each member and spectacular result concurred to prove Orcons network reliability., UNIQLO Co, Ltd., 2003-2009 GRAMMYS Inc.

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Giving the Social Super Ego a purpose

In light of the Social Super Ego, crowd sourcing is the strongest promise of self-actualization, enabling each consumer to feel part of a rewarding community where individual ideas and beliefs can contribute to the construction of the future of brand identity and image.

Making people work with you

Remember the 2009 Vitamin Water Facebook application that let users design and vote for the next flavor of the brand. A campaign that found its relevance in its brilliant use of the social context, allowing users to easily share and discuss design and taste ideas. While some time has passed, great campaigns still emerge from the same basic idea. Look at Toronto Tiff Museum and Tim Burtons Cadavre Exquis. A Twitter campaign that prompted users to create their own chapter of the story in 140 characters. Each selected sequence was integrated to the final story and of course referred back to its author.

Crowdsourcing efforts dont have to be product-driven and can take a very inspiring form when mixed with the vivid passion of the super ego for a specific topic. Foot Locker is launching the first wiki dedicated to sneakers of all kinds in an effort to seduce the die-hard sneakerholic community. Sneakerpedia encourages every enthousiast to subscribe to the beta and enrich its database. In doing so, Foot Locker aims at becoming the prime destination for sports shoes resources while flattering the ego of the most knowledgable sneaker amateurs. 2010 Foot Locker


Giving people a chance to change the world

Changing the world, what could be a greater and purer aspiration? And what better way for the Social Super Ego to feel unique and important? Motivating people to act for a greater cause is a perfect route to self-fulfilment, especially if they share and believe in your vision and values.

Pepsis Refresh Project is probably the most vibrant example of a brand taking real action to set a whole community in motion towards a truly socially beneficial goal. The brand invested millions of Super Bowl spending in a crowdsourcing platform enabling users to design and submit a project, which is then rated by the community. Each validated project receives part of the 20 million invested by the brand. A win/win campaign, where the Social Super Ego can grow and be rewarded while creating lasting value for the brand.

Of course, world-changing causes arent so easy to stumble upon or even create. But each brand has something in its DNA or primal motivation that can lead to an opportunity to activate users taste for philanthropic endeavours. Its not the size of the revolution but the emotional implication that

matters. Take the My Starbucks Idea platform: launched a few years ago it enables anyone to suggest changes to the chain. Ideas are divided between products, experience and involvement related topics meaning consumers get a chance to suggest even the boldest ideas. It is a great way to nurture and reward the Social Super Ego, especially thanks to a community that stays engaged outside of the platform through other social networks such as Twitter. 2011 Pepsico Inc.

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Playing with the Social Super Ego

The Social Super Ego is a peculiar thing. It prays on peoples attention to details and exhibitionism, yet people enjoy having fun with it. This heightened sense of self-consciousness combined with a playful need to self-deprecate have inspired brands to produce some really surprising content.

Playing with your image

Applications such as Mad Men Yourself have been a raving success for years; allowing users to transform themselves into illustrated personas. Also extremely popular, the Yearbook Yourself website inspired thousands of users to transform their face into vintage versions of their college-self. One could say they are the new avatars, except they can be made to resemble their owner to the tiniest level of detail. Most recently, Android launched an application that lets you create your own version of the Android mascot with very precise personalization features. If you own any recent video game system, then you are no stranger to the pleasures of creating your own Mii or Xbox Live persona and having fun with your own Social Super Ego.

Schweppes having a great eye for opportunity, quickly identified how to maximize a new image based trend. They created the first branded Facebook App dedicated to creating a neat full-page profile picture, letting you make the most of Facebooks new profile design without any image editing skills.

Poking fun at each others self-consciousness

People often enjoy taking a few steps back and laughing at their own self-indulgent actions. The French fashion retailer La Redoute (via Proximity BBDO Paris) recently launched a Facebook App in which users could join the style police and post bad taste fines on their friends walls. In a similar fashion, Diesel is currently urging its Facebook fans to report their friends exhibitionist picture taking habits and to share their own.

Putting influence to the test

Many brands have found ways to key into the increasing obsession with digital influence scores. The Sony Vaio facebook app Media Monster War presented users with a challenging and creative opportunity to gauge their influence by trying to take on Justin Timberlake in a virtual monster bash. Each monster was generated from the users volume of shared content and, more importantly, the number of likes and comments published by others on his wall. The more activity and popularity you had, the bigger the monster, and higher chances of winning. 2010 Sony Electronics Inc. 2010 Jostens Inc

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Other brands propose using ones influence capabilities for a certain goal. Disney for example, created a Facebook app to promote the new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie on Facebook. The app allows users to try and convince as many friends as possible to join a virtual pirate crew under their captainship. The more crewmembers, the higher the chances of winning a special premiere screening of the movie.

Eternalizing your social life

Ultimately, what better way to marvel at what youve become, than by giving the Social Super Ego a tangible form, especially for the heavy users. French telecom operator Bouygues Telecom offered the possibility to transform the whole of a Facebook wall history into a beautiful hardcover book.

More simplistic but efficient nonetheless, KDDI Japans ISparade transformed logged-in Twitter users into leaders of a huge virtual parade composed of all their followers. The Social Super Ego can also materialize as a story. Japanese music band Sour Mirror recently created an interactive website that integrated user Twitter and Facebook info as well as webcam feed into a personalized video clip. Every side of the users digital life were transformed to create a unique experience. 2010 KDDI Corporation

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Ego is not a monster, it just needs to be understood

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While there are many consumers who act like professional PR agents, for a lot of people the social pressure to perform online can be quite overwhelming. Think of smart ways, to boost idealized personas and help people rise to the occasion. On the other hand acknowledgeperformance anxiety, by thinking of ways to ease the pressure of being perfect, and keeping reputations safe from the hungry gaze of the social public. Find the right balance for your branded community spaces; maybe they should be tilted towards havens of peace rather than dens of pure fan competition.

Action points:

1. Entering into the mindset of the social super ego requires seeing digital life through its very eyes. It is imperative to sign up to as many social network platforms as possible, from Twitter, Digg, Farmville, Foursquare etc. Learn to experiment, create your own networks, and understand the thrill of being followed from the inside.

2. Learn the languages of digital ecosystems so you can connect emotionally and deeply with their concerns, for more visibility or less.

3. Educate community managers on the Social Super Ego as a real character to confront, so they can respond with more impact.

1Empathise with the pressure to perform

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Survival in the digital world is no different than in the real. There is a set of basic needs that must be met for people to feel fulfilled and happy. The Social Super Ego is no different in that it has complex levels of desires to be satisfied. Instead of just appealing to the most superficial, start thinking on how to cater for your digital consumers on 3 fundamental levels. How to make them feel loved and give them a sense of belonging? How to nurture their self-esteem? How to help them actualise their dreams? Responding to all these needs will help establish the foundations for more meaningful long-term relationships.

We have used the framework of the Maslow Pyramid to help you identify the different levels of the Social Super Ego, and what motivates it in its quest for happiness and acceptance in the digital world.

2Embrace all aspects of the social super ego

The path to Social Super Ego enlightenment


The need to be acknowledged and

referred to as a unique personality with

talent, opinion or expertise.

Maximizing your online presence

through personal blogs, vlogs, websites,

branding yourself.


The need to asses the reactions of our

audiences and our relevance to improve

our global online reputation.

Qualifying and quantifying the reactions

to your posts, likes, comments,

assessing your influence score, Googling



The need to perform to feel accepted

and appreciated by our online


Showing both who we are and what we

stand for in descriptions, conversations,

profile pictures, albums, check-ins,

advocacies, updates, blog posts.


The need to feel in control of ones

identity, personal data and information.

Picking and changing passwords,

adapting privacy settings to specific

networks and audience, managing how

ones image and reputation is displayed

by others in pictures, conversations,



The need to acquire the basic set of

skills and markers, indispensable to start

existing and interacting in the digital


Submitting to networks, picking a

screen name and an avatar, learning

the language and etiquette of a specific


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So far the industry has been telling us frantically to join the conversation, otherwise we have no chance of becoming a social success. As good students we have been taking this very seriously, setting up fan pages, Twitter accounts and doing as much as possible to make new FRIENDS and FOLLOWERS. While we can commend some of these creative efforts, many clearly have no rhyme or reason for their existence. Sure, they may have been created on the back of a great instinct, and accumulated some 10000 fans, but to what end? Can we really guarantee that our new friends are more loyal than our real life consumers? Or that they wont be easily deterred by other brand attempts at ego boosting digital candy. The real challenge in social media is not about emerging in the ocean of babble, but about seducing the Social Super Ego. As we have seen for the last 20 pages, this is not a random psychological phenomenon, but a real character that comes to the fore in our online lives, with survival mechanics and complex needs of its own.

While social networks have undoubtedly given us endless possibilities to make connections with people we never would have dreamt of, the rules for friendship never change. It happens out of a real sense of complicity, and the desire to explore the other in all his/ her different dimensions. The next exciting challenge will be to look inside ourselves as brands and see whether the role we have chosen to play online is sufficiently in sync and attractive enough for the Social Super Ego

Forget the misconceptions about influence: its now everywhere, anytime and can emanate from anybody. Learn to distinguish the different levels of influence: someone with a 500K uv/ month and 10000 followers might be a social outcast in real life, and real life influencers might not even have a Facebook account. Dont be afraid to look beyond blogs and Twitter. Other platforms such as foursquare, social shopping sites, and even casual social games can all contain influencers with massive reach.

3Identify the real origins of influence

Action Points:

1. Do not rely on ready-made directories to identify influencers such as bloggers.

2. Use proved tools such as SM2 to identify the volume and sources of noise around your brand, whatever the network.

3. Do some hands-on research on selected networks, experience will tell you whos a reference in such or such domain.

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Bibliography AcknowledgementsYour life torn Open, Essay 2: Zukerbergs next move Steven Johnson - feb 3,

Facebook, Le Reseau AntisocialLibby Copeland - jan 26, 2011.

Why youth love social Network sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage social life.Dana BoydUniversity of California, Berkeley, School

of Information.

User descriptions and Interpretations of self-presentation through Facebook profile images.Michele M. StranoBridgewater College, Virginia.

Self-presentation 2.0: Narcissism and self esteem on Facebook.Soraya Mehdizadeh- B. Sc. York University Toronto Canada.

I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. Alice E. MarwickNew York University

Authors: Sarah Jane Blackman is a Senior Digital Planner at Proximity Paris, with a passion for big questions and digital creativity. [email protected]

Pierre-Jean Choquelle is a Generation Y certified digital planner at Proximity Paris. You can check out his geeky stream

of consciousness at

Design:Nicolas Baumgartner at Proximity Paris.

A big thankyou to: Reza Ghaem-Maghami, and the Paris planning team for their encouragement and support during this project.

Identity Construction and Self Representation on Facebook.Renee Estoisia, Neema Pithia, Claudia Rodriquez, Teresa Yu.Anthropology 128CProfessor T. D. Boellstorff- March 19, 2009.

I tweet therefore I amPeggy Orenstein - july 30,

The presentation of self in every day life.Erving Goffman, 1959.

Alone Together. Why we expect more from technology and less from eachother.Sherry Turkle - jan 11, 2011 Basics Books

Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality.Elias Aboujaoude - 2011

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LinksWeve tried hard to describe our diferent examples in the simplest way as possible but here is a list of links thatll feed your apetite for details, neatly arranged for your delight.

10 creative uses of the new Facebook profile



myspace angles, know your meme

Dont be ugly by accident, Ok Trends

A graphic guide to Facebook Portrait, Fastcompany


go try it on


Skoda, The more you like, the less you pay

Foursquare Getglue Scoop.it

Introducing Mashable follow







Youtube sensation Blair Fowler aka Juicystar07




dating brian

Cline Cavailleros Resume

yearbook yourself

Mad men yourself


Schweppes profile maker

La redoute PDS

Diesel I have never

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Vaio Media Monsters War

Pirates des Caraibes : capitaine !

Facebook book Bouygues Telecom

Twitter parade

Sour Mirror interactive music video

Benetton its : my : time

Oreo itl fan of the week

Top 10 Old Spice video response

BK Whopperface case study

Klm surprise case study

One Million Heineken hugs

Porsche, Thank You a million times


LOL project

Grammys were all fans

Together Incredible : Orcon case study

Burtons Cadavre Exquis

Gorillaz The Evangelist

Pepsi Refresh project

My Starbucks idea