The Social Media hype is around 20 years old today and has changed the way we communicate, probably for ever. It has started with Six Degrees in 1997, and has been followed by more successful ones like Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. My first experience was Myspace – A Place For Friends, at the age of 16 when I was promoting my music band. I used to spend hours customising my band’s profile and going after potential fans around the world. It was the first time that I felt connected with the world. And what an unusual great feeling it was. Then a friend mentioned Facebook to me. I resisted for weeks. About 10 years later, here I am. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter installed on my phone waiting to be refreshed, if not, I’d get tones of notifications which would influence me to open and browse them.
Is Social Media Healthy?
You know the answer. Of course it’s not. Why? Simply because these apps mainly target the limbic part of our brain which is responsible for emotions and memories. The never-ending feeds or the little red notification badges (which drives my Father nuts) keep us addicted. How? Emotions are naturally addictive because they produce dopamine which gives us a satisfaction feeling and happiness. Is too much dopamine good for you? It depends on what causes it. If a 20min HIIT Workout makes you feel great, then keep doing so. You’re great. But if 100 Likes on your last picture make you feel awesome, hm…
Now, it all depends on how you use social media and what for. If it’s for your business and you need to promote your brand, then it is a great place if done properly. If it is for comparing your abs with an always happy fitness influencer, then stop it.
The Impact Of Social Media On Our Behaviour
We share all the time, we double tap to like, we follow, unfollow, we swipe up, down, left, right, we now have 3D dinosaurs on our screens, we film everything, we put dog filters on our faces, we walk head down in the streets and the list goes on and on. And on. Don’t get me wrong, Social Media apps are a unique way to connect with people or businesses you like or show your work to the world in just few clicks. Apart from any sorts of art, Social Media brings and connects people together like never before. But witnessing people in the streets taking minutes to find the right angle with the right lighting for a selfie makes me feel perplexed. A recent study has shown that 41% of Social Media users say that the platforms make them feel anxious, sad or depressed, Marketing Dive.
“We always have PRed ourselves, but it is getting too much.”
We’re more willing to capture and share the moment than living it. Think about all the time it takes to do this in addition of checking other people’s life on a daily basis. Social Media is a very distracting tool and the public starts realising it.
Emergence Of A New Trend
It looks like we’re being more and more conscious on how addictive and unsafe Social Media is. More and more around me, I hear people talking about deleting their Facebook account, probably because they are losing users’ trust. (Facebook says nearly 50m users compromised in huge security breach, The Guardian). Even celebrities or big companies have started deleting their accounts on multiple social platforms perhaps because of poor management of data privacy. It is clear that we slowly but surely spend less time on Social Media these days. Why is that? Simply because people do realise how much time they spend on it and think that they could do something more enriching. So, how could Social Media bring more value to the user?
… We would all go offline and interact only via messaging apps? Marketers would go in panic mode. It is not going to happen tomorrow but brands who essentially market their products online will have to find new routes to reach their audience at some point. Today, ads are very intrusive and people ignore them more and more.
It’s now time to imagine a different Social Network:
What if we had one single private ad-free feed with updates from friends only and another space dedicated to our interests with a mix of organic content and ads all in one unique App? For example, if a user is into fitness and follow a specific channel related to fitness i.e crossfit, he/she would see a mix of organic content and ads relevant to his/her interests which leads to more engagement and less wasted ad spend for brands.
Followers wouldn’t be a thing on here, only views would count. Views are more anonymous than likes. If you decide to comment a post, you would then expose your identity to the community who engaged with this post. Notifications wouldn’t be available unless you unlock them and will only be available once logged in. An algorithm which suggests you posts you might be interested in would be available only if you activate it. The user would have full control on how he/she wants to interact with the app. Etc etc…
Again, this is just an idea which deserves to be more explored.
Like any industry, Social Media reached the maturity stage and is probably starting its descent. The general public wants more safety, more valuable content and an easier user interface. To survive, companies like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter will have to rework their strategy or it would be deadly. So what’s next? Will people move away and try a new promising human first social app? I believe within 5 years, we’ll have an answer to this question.
Go check out this very interesting article which talks about how Social Media should be fixed (A Brief for (hopefully) Better Social Media, by Erwan Derlyn).