Many dear readers have been kind enough to ask me whether the guy next door to me who is playing Farmville (see posts passim) is actually the guy who actually sits next to me. And whether that actual guy is actually playing Farmville.
No he is not. 'The guy next door to me' is an idealised representative person, an 'everyguy' if you will, who is, like almost half a billion people, playing Farmville. The guy who actually sits next to me would never do that.
But almost everyone else in the world is doing it. So the next time a media agency tells you 'our target audience doesn't play social media games', they're probably not right.
So why does the media agency believe so strongly that 'our target audience doesn't play social media games'? Because they asked them, I imagine.
There is still a fairly strong taboo that says that people who play online games are a little bit sad. So if you ask your target audience whether they do so, they're likely to fib about it. It's even more likely that they will fib about it if you ask them whether they play online games in a group discussion with people they know. No one is ever going to admit to being a saddo in that context.
It's the sort of wrinkle that my esteemed colleague Mr Richard Madden might call a 'research effect'. By asking the question, you're making it unlikely that you'll get a true answer.
So how can you find out the truth about whether 'our target audience'? Well, you might just have to ask them on their own. Or even better, you could go to the online spaces where you think they might be hanging out, and ask them there. But that might mean you'd have to take up Farmville. Just like the guy next door to me.