‘You Media’: audiencing as marketing in social media

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Recent scholarship has offered a modification to audience labour theory in the context of social media, suggesting that rather than merely working by watching advertisements, social media users also produce data, which is commodified by social media companies. This article offers a further analysis of audience labour in social media using Facebook’s Sponsored Stories as a case study. Sponsored Stories are ads rendered from naturally occurring users’ communication on Facebook. I argue that the value generated by users is based on two additional types of labour: the ‘self’ of users, who are mobilized as ‘celebrity’ avatars to advertise a brand, and the construction and maintenance of networks, or media channels through which ads are disseminated. Such analysis suggests that the audience is involved in three moments along the value chain of social media: consumption, production, and marketing. Put differently, valorization on social media takes place also through the work of the audience as marketers, entailing the construction and maintenance of targeted channels of communication, and the mobilization of ‘selves’ for the promotion of brands. The article suggests a comparison between the mass media and social media, along the coordinates of audience labour and advertisements as theoretical and empirical constants, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-67
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014.


  • advertising
  • audience labour
  • capitalism
  • media theory
  • new media
  • social media


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