When detectives begin investigating a crime they often lean on criminal profiling as a means of finding the perpetrator. “[Criminal profiling] is not a blueprint, as [the media] often suggests, against which people can be measured to see how they do or do not fit. It's a list of suggested behaviors and traits derived from the specific behavior evident at a crime scene or series of crime scenes that helps to narrow down leads and diminish the potential pool of suspects.”1
Profiling has and is being developed in the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit (Investigative Support Unit). It is used by police departments all over the country -- especially those with officers trained at the National Academy -- as a tool in their crime-fighting arsenal. The basic idea for a profile is to gather a body of data yielding common patterns so that investigators can develop a general description of an UNSUB (unknown suspect). Profiling involves the psychology-trained expert using his or her knowledge in human behavior, motivation, and patterns of pathology to create a multidimensional report.
With the recent onslaught of Social Networks we are preparing for a scene rich with evidence to begin profiling potential target markets for commerce. This has been attempted using predictive analytics and user generated content from Social Networks but has often missed the mark. What I am referring to is the marriage of Big Data Market Research and Social media profile data. There is a proliferation of data that each of us unknowingly and knowingly share on social network sites. This data is littered with pieces of evidence that tell our story; who we are, what we like, what we dislike, what makes us tick and what turns us on. All pieces to a bigger puzzle that is us. This data can tell companies exactly what they need to know in order to sell their products or services. Highly focused targeting for advertisers, marketers, product development and research and development. This is not to say that the content that social network users are creating is of no value but that the true gold is below the surface.
A new field of social psychology could emerge. Social networks like Facebook sit on data that are the fabric of our lives. This data could be some of the richest information into what each of us really want or even need. If corporations could begin mining this rich data and couple it with the already rich market research data that is out there the social psychologist could begin profiling each of us. Providing valuable insights and directives. Below are just a few suggestions on how this new field may prove profitable.
1. Keys to purchasing habits and prediction
A profile is based on the idea that people tend to be guided by their individual psychology and will inevitably leave idiosyncratic clues. These clues will better serve advertising directives including but not limited to the best time, format, medium, location and content for these ads. As this continues to get more accurate in its profiling specific and even custom advertising experiences could become the norm. Ever experience with a down to delivery.
2. Advancement of new Advertising Methodologies
For instance, product sponsorships based on individual’s social influence and profile categorization. Imagine getting paid in cash or free shawg because you fit a profile for a company and have an above average influence based on your social network interactions? Teenagers become walking billboards, and cheap ones at that. With far reaching grass roots styled effects in their ability to market, promote and sell products or services. No longer do companies have to lean on Hollywood’s elite to promote their lines. (Hollywood actually released a film not to many years ago all about this very thing. The Joneses)2
3. New Business Models/Opportunities - Digital Grooming
Surrounded by digital content, profiles, categorizations, social clout and influence new necessities with our digital selves will get put in the spotlight. Consultants will now work with you to build a better digital self. It won’t be enough to shave and shower in the mornings in the privacy of your own bathroom. You will need your digital self to be cleaned, trimmed and groomed in to not lose the promotion, get an interview or even keep your job. All this will bring on new ventures, backed by new technologies to make it easier and efficient to manage.3
These ideas aren’t new, nor are they far from completion. We are already beginning to see products that will begin to merge our interaction of our digital selves and our physical world. How we are viewed, classified and even profiled will continue to become integral. With it come new concerns for privacy, civil rights and even discrimination. All of which will need to be sorted out. Needs for fact checking will long pass by just being needed for politicians or journalists but your next-door neighbor and even child or parent, not to mention employer and employee. With each of these concerns more new opportunities for business models, laws and enforcing agencies with come as well. Proving Hollywood movies like The Joneses or even Minority Report closer to realities than not.