Working in Social Media/Advertising Industry

I currently work at a media agency doing digital advertising which includes social media platforms and as I am becoming increasingly aware of my own habits on these platforms and wanting to change, I am finding myself conflicted at work. How can I continue to work in this industry and be on these platforms while also recosidering my use of these platforms in my personal life? Also knowing advertising is the biggest revenue driver for these platforms? Do I need a career change?


I think maybe you’ve already decided on one based on your enlightened post. You’re not alone, I came to this forum also initially seeking to reconcile what the industry claims to be vs what it actually is (selfish and uncaring). There is actually nothing wrong with advertising (there are many good products and good ways of advertising), but unfortunately I think almost all adtech today is very bad. I have a friend who was in your exact situation and he switched over to digital marketing for a museum.


There will be many, many people who find themselves in similar situations. I developed SaaS marketing operation platforms once (though for Print, In-Store marketing) and happy to have left the field. But career changes are hard, especially if marketing is your specialty.

With the huge amounts of adtech and marketing that is around (and part of what we now call ‘surveillance capitalism’) there is also a need, I think, for lots of insiders who bring change and transformation to the industry. Different mindsets, approaches, and ethics.

I created a discussion topic some time ago for brainstorming alternatives, that I recently gave another swing, and which you may find interesting: Humane advertising - ethical and mutual-beneficial: It is possible !


Since the founders of these platforms and products don’t even let their own kids use that tech, I think you shouldn’t really feel too conflicted (unless you’re one of them and worth a couple of billion made from harvesting people’s attention :wink: ).

We can do many great things with your skillset here through this forum!

So, maybe you will find a way to counterbalance what it is happening in big tech by helping us raise awareness and campaigning against technological harms.


Yeah I have definitely considered switching to something in a totally different field. I have always been interested in social psychology, even minored in it in college, so that is where i’ve thought of pursuing a degree/career. Still have a lot of thinking to do though.


Yeah I have slowly started thinking that it may be more beneficial to stay in the industry and do my best to make a positive impact.

Thanks for sharing that topic, I will check it out!

Yes that is what I have been reading and it has all been very eye opening to me, especially as someone with young siblings and cousins.

I am definitely interested in helping spreading awareness and becoming more involved!


I’m a marketer by training, and a while ago I had that same dilemma. I believe there’s a semantics problem with the definition of marketing, and it’s a well deserved problem. The truth is, most marketers aren’t trustworthy. But most people who call themselves marketers are actually manipulators.

The difference between manipulation and marketing, is that, manipulation is when I get you to buy something you’re going to regret later–and marketing is when I get you to buy something you’re going to be glad you bought it. (And when I say ‘buy something’, that’s not just about products, but ideas as well.)

So considering that, you can do great things in marketing. Advertising is a tricky sector, but if you find ways to do it right, it can be great.

The challenge is to find a company that supports your philosophy and allows you to grow in the way you want. Of course there are companies like that, but finding one is a big challenge.

Or you can just do what I did: create your own agency… Over time I’ve found that’s the only way to get to do work that I’m proud of, and be very selective with the clients I choose to work with.


In my experience, it is not necessarily so that marketeers are not thrustworthy (as people). The problem is that most people (and marketeers) are cogs in wheels of the machines that big corporations and tech startups (existing in a wider tech bubble ecosystem) are.

They do their thing, their job, but are unaware of the bigger picture. Of what it is that they are actually marketing.

As for semantics - adding my 2cts: marketing is bringing something to the attention of the people who might want it. The next step is to make them feel that they need it. Here is where marketing transitions into sales. And when sales targets come into the play… people lose sight of the bigger picture.


borja ~ could you post a URL to your firm?

we have strong values at Plazm , which we articulate on our site. i think it’s scrollable on the home page ( .

but i find myself in similar murky waters to what ylime describes. one thing to keep in mind: marketers influenced businesses to adopt these technologies, now we can influence them to gently disengage!

i’ve been encouraging clients for quite a while now to focus on other means of communication. i generally phrase it as “diversifying channels”, or casually mention in conversations things like, “well, now that we’re seeing high-end lifestyle brands use data discretion as a selling point,” and whoever i’m talking to is like, “wait! what?”

which is true, of course. not going to name any names, but one of the oldest, grandest, plummiest global brands recently, discreetly, began taking large steps in that direction, ensuring that their customers can partake of the fruits of contemporary technology without their data being harvested. it’ll trickle down.


I recently left my job because of a similar reason. There were also others but this has been a big thing on my mind. Currently I’m doing a course on Group Analysis which I’m finding really interesting. Sorry to hear you’re in this difficult time of your career, it’s hard but good to struggle with.


Yes… the industry needs more self-conscious people who can gut-check dubious actions from the inside. Otherwise these businesses would self-select for the most unethical practices possible, unchecked.

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I feel the same. I have recently graduated in music management as live music was always a passion of mine. The majority of my course content was digital marketing and social media, two things I have never really taken to…
Most internships and entry jobs that are offered for my field of study are social media and online content management. I cannot think of anything worse than boosting an individuals social media when I do not use it myself.
Most offices have departments where a large group of people will sit for hours constantly streaming their artists new single to boost streams and thinking of ways to gain even more followers.
I don’t agree with this at all. I reminisce about the days where if you produced good music, the sales would speak for themselves. I have attended a few networking events with artists where I find myself feeling very uncomfortable as most spend the evening taking the perfect photo for their instagram and very little actually engaging with others.

This has left me in a position where I feel maybe I should have known better ? Have I just wasted 3 years of study and a sickening amount of money? Surely the music industry is potentially the worst I could be going into?
I feel I wont be very successful (professionally) as I do not meet many people who feel this way and struggle to find jobs where I can practice what I preach. Surely there is somewhere I belong where I can excel ?!


I think this is the ultimate reason that pushes us all to forums and communities like this, where we are sharing our experiences and thoughts about how technology is used and is intersecting with our lives and expectations.

We are all experiencing, even through different fields, the same disappointment: it is not going how it was supposed to be and part of the reason has to do with how digital technology in recent years has hugely sped up / eased certain processes and activities and, in doing so, slowed down / burdened other ones.

Here’s the paradox: we can so easily communicate that we don’t communicate anymore, we can so easily choose among thousands of alternatives that we are not able to choose anymore, we are so easily reached by lots of information that we don’t know anything anymore.

Music is a good example of all that: a song can practically with no money be recorded and spread to millions of people, to the point that that song disappears buried under lots of piles of other songs. Music industry thinks that its traditional role of music production and distribution is over, gone along with the money they could make out of it. So they switched to do the PR of music artists/personas, because they see that in short term this is the only thing that brings some visibility to their artists and some revenues for them.
But that’s the point where I think they are completely wrong: now is the time that their role of orienting/educating people musical tastes and knowledge is more precious than ever, now that we are flooded with free music all the time and quality and meaningfulness is not an issue on the table anymore.

Basically people think that more availability = better choices and experiences, while actually more availability is currently meaning only more distraction and exploitation for third party lucrative objectives.

So now we must excel in bringing the urgency for good stuff back into people’s life, in this current hyper-connected and hyper-distracted world.


Ha, yes you are right. In a society where we can contact anyone at any time, we have never felt so alone. That’s the thing though, we have been pushed to reach out to others on forums when I would much rather communicate outside and have a more human experience. Oh the irony.