Forget “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” The more accurate statement of the top fears for 2018 seems to be “ads and reach and algorithms, oh my!” While none of these terms are new to our digital lexicon, they’ve certainly forced themselves to the forefront of every digital marketers mind due in large part to the recent “well-intentioned” changes announced by Mark Zuckerberg.
To those that are strictly end users, these changes sure do sound quite nice, as we all remember the days where our newsfeeds were filled with “John Smith is at the gym” and “Suzie Jones needs a coffee”, rather than “SIGN UP FOR MY FREE WEBINAR”.
But as much as “the Zuck” is making it seem as though we are soon going to be traveling down memory lane with only our friends and families, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We’ll still be seeing just as much “gimmicky” content as we have been, except now we’ll only be seeing it from those who can afford to put it in front of us.
As a social media manager for several companies and brands (including my own), let me set the record straight that this article isn’t intended to be an outlet for me to whine and complain about the current state of social media. It’s to help you all make sense of some of what is happening, since it seems to be affecting even my Aunt who uses Facebook for nothing more than cooking videos and to play Candy Crush Saga.
Here are 5 harsh truths to help you make sense of what’s happening to social media in 2018:
1. It’s Past Its Prime
While statistics pertaining to the average amount of time we spend on social media daily may suggest it’s only getting started, we all know that has more to do with its addictive stronghold on us, rather than the quality of what it offers.
Think about it, when is the last time you heard someone tell you that they genuinely love scrolling through their newsfeed? It’s not to say that no valuable or worthwhile content exists on social media, but it’s undeniably overrun by both that which is completely insignificant and that which is paid for.
For companies and brands, social media is past its prime, because: A) gone are the days where followings were easy to grow and come by and, B) you can no longer interact with even those who previously showed interest in you without paying top dollar.
For end users, social media is past its prime, because: A) you keep seeing the same things from the same people over and over again and, B) you can’t trust much of what you see for many of the reasons I’m going to elaborate on below.
2. It’s Antisocial
How could any SOCIAL media platform be antisocial? Easy, by being what they currently are. We may be connected to way more people than our younger selves (depending on how old you are) would have ever thought possible, but how much do we actually know about them?
Social media gives us all the illusion of socialization, while gradually making us more and more uncomfortable with actual interaction. Case in point: think of how much even a simple phone call from all but a select few numbers makes you uncomfortable. Compare that (again depending on how old you are) to how welcome phone calls were in your household growing up.
We live in a world where hundreds, if not thousands, of us gather daily on buses and subway trains to not exchange more than a courteous nod with one or two others. Just as social media usage numbers are on the rise, so are those pertaining to depression and loneliness, do you think there is any correlation?
3. It Brings Out the Worst In Us
We’re all familiar with the term “cyber-bully” by now, and while the internet as a whole may be responsible for its creation, its on social media that cyber-bullying has firmly planted its feet.
Just as alcohol provides many of us a level of “liquid courage” to speak out, social media provides us with just enough security to openly vocalize our displeasure towards pretty well anything. Hateful and rude comments have become the norm, while words of support and encouragement seem few and far between, except when naturally called upon by hardship or tragedy.
Even if you consider yourself one of the “nice ones” online, you’re likely still affected by it through the conscious or subconscious filtering you apply to everything you say, like, or share to mitigate your chances at being the recipient of it.
4. Everyone Wants Your Money
Whether it’s fuelled by well-intentioned necessity or sheer greed, everyone is ultimately looking for your money online. We should all know by now that the free webinar is just the starting point to a sales funnel, and that the “click-bait” title is to get you to their site overrun by ad units. And that’s okay.
The best defence in the face of this reality is not to avoid them altogether, but to really think critically before you act upon one. As someone who has built an online course myself, and is currently working on another one, I know it seems counterproductive for me to be saying this, but even I know my work won’t have value for everyone that comes across it.
There is a lot of value to be found in certain things online, but what those certain things differs for each of us.
5. It’s Making You Impatient
The article is a slowly dying medium; in fact, it’s almost a miracle that you are actually reading this sentence. Blame it on vine, blame it on news feeds, blame it on Snapchat, whatever happens to be the main culprit in your life, we’ve all become substantially more impatient and demanding online.
Spoiler alert: your newsfeed is currently littered with square videos with catchy titles (some of which are admittedly mine) and numbered “list-icle” articles (like this one) for a reason… it’s pretty much the only things that catch your attention 1 in every 50 tries! (not an actual stat)
Long gone are the days where we could be slowly lured into a point of interest, and here to stay are the days where our attention needs to be caught in 3 seconds or less. So, if you’re tired of seeing the same “crap” online, realize that it’s only there because we’ve collectively brought it to that point.