Everybody started talking about it -The Social Dilemma- the new Netflix documentary about social networks and its impact on our lives, behaviors, and opinions.
So we watched it, and here are a few things we learned:
One of the people interviewed in the documentary said something that stuck with us: "Social networks are platforms where users are the product". A product, as they call it, is something that will make them earn money. Basic.But is that really all it is? From another perspective, TV and media have always worked this way, offering free information, content, and earning money by sharing advertising campaigns. So why would social networks be threatening? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Tiktok, and Google are the most influential companies today because they retain the most data. But again, why would it be a threat?
If we think about it, who forces you to upload your life on social media? Did someone really ask you to post your engagement ring on Instagram? Your new job offer on Linkedin? Your vacations on Facebook? No one. We do it for self-recognition. To be a part of the group, to be desired, envied, loved and feel important. That is the main problem of our generation. We can't live without others' approval, which leads us to display every second of our lives on social networks.
That being said, is it truly dangerous? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty careful about what I post on the Internet, and I don't care if Instagram recommends me a nice pair of shoes I've been looking for. It can even help me to discover new brands and support the local economy. The danger starts when you lose sight of what privacy really is. Does real privacy exist anymore?
Social networks or media banners?
From a business point of view, these platforms are just media. Almost traditional media. They craft their algorithm to understand the consumer as adequately as possible to offer the advertiser the adapted target. Just like a TV channel would make an effort to showcase kids toys on a kids channel, the same goes for social media advertisements. However, this is far more complex and accurate because of the data collection. Social media plays a massive role in our perception of ourselves, how we picture our body image and society's place in this realm. We don't differentiate between ads and content. Everything seems like a perfectly polished image, and we lose our perception of reality. These platforms quickly became advertising methods for advertisers when they were supposed to be used to connect people. The real danger here is creating an unrealistic, perfect virtual world where realness and empathy no longer exist.
So, what can we do better?
As a marketing and communication agency, we will always advise our clients to be the most positive and authentic as possible. Because of the current need, you'll naturally stand out in the crowd. Your target is waiting for that kind of message: empowering, strong, benevolent, and smart. A brand shouldn't be afraid of speaking out about their deep values: humanity, positive thinking, generosity, etc. Only if it suits you, of course! Social networks were built to connect people, so we don't see why people behind a brand couldn't connect with people as consumers! It’s about connecting human to human, not ‘likes’ to ‘post’ or ‘target’ to ‘advertisement’.