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Sinan Aral is the David Austin Professor of Management at MIT.
In his new book, The Hype Machine (Currency, 2020), MIT Sloan professor Sinan Aral takes on the greatest communications force of our lifetime: social media. Aral, who directs the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, provides an insightful and level-headed analysis of the power, peril, and potential of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms for both organizations and society. The work is the result of some two decades of research he has dedicated to social media. He spoke with MIT Sloan Management Review’s editor in chief, Paul Michelman, about the dual-edge sword of what he terms “the hype machine.” What follows is an edited version of their conversation.
MIT Sloan Management Review: Is there an approach to social media marketing in which we can exploit the power of the media without exploiting the people who are using it?
Sinan Aral: Yes, I think absolutely. The interesting thing about marketing is that it is a technology like any other. When we think about marketing to promote voting or to stop dirty-needle sharing or to get people to socially distance or wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic, we don’t …
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