As a website designer, I know social media plays a very important role in a complete online marketing strategy. As the first generation in history to use social media, we are still learning its side effects both online and offline. The problem is when social media influences people’s behaviors in a negative way. An algorithms can do this in a very subtle way, and you might not even be aware of it.
Let me explain how this works. For example, if you engage more with a particular group of friends on Facebook, then the algorithm learns that and it shows you more of that same content. If you tend to engage in political, religious, or sports threads then that kind of content is what is going to dominate your feed. Because the algorithm learns that this is the type of content that grabs your attention. The more you engage with content, the more time you spend in front of the screen and the more ads they can show you. The result is a highly tailored posts feed that filters out content and people too. These are the same people who might not share your same interests or disagree with you on a particular topic. Users can cause this themselves by continuously using the unfollow button. Needless to say this not only applies to Facebook, but Instagram and other social media channels as well.
The main problem is that this type of feed optimization is not necessarily a reflection of your behavior, but actually influencing it or reinforcing it. This false perception of the reality can push a person further away into an extreme in-group behavior. If you’ve ever felt like you can find more like-minded people on social media than in real life is because your social media feed has been optimized just for you. In the real world that doesn’t happen because there is always a mix of different-minded people. That mix helps to keep us in a healthy perspective. In real life we have to come to an understanding with those with whom we may have a difference of opinion. Unfortunately, more people are starting to confuse reinforced online behavior with reality. Therefore, falling into outrageous actions.
As an online marketer, I feel compelled to warn you about the negative consequences of social media. As far as I’m concerned there’s not a manual that discloses the unintended consequences of using social media. With every new feature we are experiencing positive and negative consequences. It’s been less than a year since Facebook rolled out their live streaming service. It didn’t take very long to see the how people were not using it correctly.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is a great tool, but we need to learn to use it wisely. So use social media responsibly and do not let an algorithm influence your behavior. Be the best version of yourself both online and offline.
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