Last month The Social Dilemma hit Netflix, and almost immediately, all my marketing colleagues started talking about it. While I normally try to stay in-the-know on the marketing conversations, I was really nervous to watch The Social Dilemma. If I’m totally honest, I was worried that I’d end up with a guilty conscience and need to shut down my business.
So on a Saturday night in September, I curled up on my couch with some queso and my fiancé (I basically forced him to watch with me) and we turned on the documentary. While I didn’t decide to dismantle my business because of it, I have had some time to think about our Stratos response and my own personal response to the information I learned from the film.
In terms of Stratos —
One of the things The Social Dilemma touched on heavily was how these giant tech companies are manipulating consumer experience with the dollars businesses give them in ad revenue. While we only recently started offering ads management, the ads industry has been around since newspapers were invented – or perhaps earlier (FYI I haven’t done the research on this; but my point is that ads existed prior to the internet). BUT when we add together the accessibility and pervasiveness of social media and the internet, plus the human psychology the tech industry employs in the ads world, we encounter a world where we as consumers can be manipulated by innocent things like shopping ads or much more dangerous things like fake news and scams.
Trust me… when I was watching this documentary, I started second-guessing my decision to offer Facebook and Instagram ads to our clients. Were we playing a part in a bigger system that might not be benefiting consumers? Truthfully – yes. BUT at Stratos, we are committed to only working with clients who SERVE their customers. The ads we manage for our clients do anything from sell courses to sell shelves. Each of these clients is doing what they do best in their line of work. We’re excited to be able to support them in a way that benefits their customers.
In terms of my personal thoughts —
Almost exactly 4 years ago, I took 1.5ish years off of Facebook. I needed it. Facebook was the first app I opened on my phone — even when I meant to open a different app. I had just left a toxic relationship and needed some separation from all things Facebook. At the time I didn’t know how beneficial this would end up being.
Once I re-opened an account, I instituted some semi-strict Facebook practices to avoid any potential addictions. The Social Dilemma shares a lot about how tech companies are using human psychology to keep us on our phones longer and some techniques that help break the addiction cycle. I’ll share some that I’ve held for the past 3 years and have helped a lot.
- I turned off notifications for all apps I don’t care about. The only notifications I have turned on are for text messages, messenger messages and Instagram direct messages. I decided that I didn’t want my time to be dictated by comments and likes, but I did want to receive any one-on-one messages and interactions.
- I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone. I only check Facebook on my computer.
- I hide everyone on my feed. To be honest, I hesitate to share this one — especially if you’re my friend on Facebook, but if you look through my feed, you’ll only find messages from business pages and groups. This has been extremely helpful to me as I run my social media business because I’m not distracted by the feed. If I’m curious how a friend is doing, I’ll head over to their profile.
Social media has been a beautiful thing in my life as it’s let me stay connected to childhood friends in Peru, but it’s caused pain and addictive behavior too. I’m sure my thoughts will continue to change as we learn more about the impacts of the tech industry on our personal lives.
That being said, as I lead Stratos into our next year of business, I’m glad that we are learning more about how technology affects human psychology. It’s my hope that information like what’s found in The Social Dilemma will help each one of us make conscientious decisions about how we relate to social media in our personal lives and how we run our businesses in a way that serves our customers.
About the Author:
Julia Block is the CEO of Stratos Creative Marketing, helping business owners make sure their marketing strategies all work together to produce results and revenue.