The Noisy Channel

 

Is online friendship worth less than a piece of meat?

January 10th, 2009 · 4 Comments · General

In a brilliant marketing campaign, Burger King is offering a coupon for a free Whopper to anyone who “sacrifices” ten of their Facebook friends. The “whopper sacrifice” campaign is earning mass media coverage, including in the New York Times. I checked it out myself and took the opportunity to trade ten of my more questionable online friendships for a slightly less questionable repast.

Of course, the interesting question in the context of much of the discussion on this blog is what such a campaign tells us about the value of online social network connections. On Facebook, friendship is symmetric, as is also the case on LinkedIn. But it’s interesting to consider how such a campaign might have worked on Twitter. Would you be asked to sacrifice followers or followees?

On one hand, you choose whom you follow, and in theory you follow them because you’re interested in what they have to say. It stands to reason that unfollowing someone would be a sacrifice.

On the other hand, having lots of followers is signals status and perhaps even authority. So perhaps it’s giving up followers that would be a sacrifice.

Of course, these two possibilities aren’t mutually exclusive: there may be value both in following and being followed. Regardless of whether it is better to give than receive, it may be good to do both.

Nonetheless, I suspect that the average online “friendship” is worth less than $0.37 (a whopper goes for $3.69). I’m sure Burger King will have no trouble giving away whoppers.

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 AO // Jan 10, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    It’s quite funny. Who ever is running BK’s ad department sure knows how to get press, with the whopper spray, the King’s wallet, and now this promotion, they are getting it done.
    I do think this comes back to your earlier post about following so many people on social networks. How can they do it? the answer is they can’t, and it’s worth less than 1/10 of a whopper to them to maintain that connection. And now I’m off to make sure I didn’t get dropped for a whopper.
    AO

  • 2 Max L. Wilson // Jan 13, 2009 at 5:53 am

    hilarious, it wouldnt be the average friendship at $37, that would be somewhere around the lower boundary. although im sure close friends wouldnt mind a mutual sacrafice to feed each other. very interesting though.

  • 3 Daniel Tunkelang // Jan 13, 2009 at 8:06 am

    That’s true, you’re only giving up the least valuable friendships. Not quite Boy and His Dog material.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Boy_and_His_Dog

  • 4 Can’t Buy Me Friends | The Noisy Channel // Jan 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

    […] may have sung that you can’t buy love, but, as we learned last week, you can certainly sell friends. And now it seems that companies will be able to buy them. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb […]

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