How long does it take you to check your phone after you wake up in the morning? According to a 2018 study, 57% of American adults check their phones within 10 minutes of opening their eyes. Ten. Minutes. That means just over half of us roll over each morning, pick up our phones and scroll through our app of choice before even sitting up and acknowledging it’s a new day.
For most of us, this isn’t a problem. It’s just a way of life. But after tuning into Netflix’s document, The Social Dilemma, I had to stop and reconsider how I interacted with my phone and social media.
In The Social Dilemma, the filmmakers introduce you to creators, top executives and investors of the apps and technology we use in our everyday lives. We hear from the creator of the Facebook “Like” button, the former president of Pinterest, Google engineers, and the inventor of the infinite scroll. We also hear from scientists who study how technology impacts the way humans interact and function.
And while we hear alarming evidence of how tech giants have engineered their products to keep us engaged with their products, we also see a fictional family grappling with the role of technology at school, at work and at the dinner table.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the documentary for anyone, but there is a moment when Isla, the youngest daughter, broke a glass box that kept her from looking at her phone during dinner. And she broke it because she could hear the notifications and she couldn’t resist seeing what was being said about her.
Early Facebook investor and American businessman Roger McNamme says in the film, “If you want to control the population, …there’s never been a tool as effective as Facebook.”
He’s not wrong. Social media has infiltrated our culture in ways we could never imagine. Just the sheer number of photos we take on a daily basis is proof enough. Everyone has to know what we’re up to, what outfit we’re wearing, who we saw last night, who we didn’t see, and the list goes on and on. Nearly 60% of millennials have admitted to going into debt trying to obtain the life and status they see online.
So where does that leave business owners and entrepreneurs marketing their companies online? Can digital marketers use social media without selling their souls?
Here are five questions to ask yourself to fight against the social marketing dilemma.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself as a Digital Marketer on Social Media
1. Am I posting this to manipulate someone into doing what I want them to do?
If we’ve heard “marketing is manipulation” once, we’ve heard it a thousand times. But we don’t buy it. As digital marketers here at SizzleForce, we lead with ethics first and business second. That’s why we think it’s so important to filter our social media strategy through the lens of manipulation. When we ask ourselves if what we’re posting is considered manipulation, it forces us to focus on our true intentions and how we can make a difference in marketing without preying on our audience.
2. Am I adding value with my content or just adding to the noise?
In The Social Dilemma, they talk about algorithms being so efficient at delivering targeted content that it can’t distinguish good information from bad. Algorithms, and the artificial intelligence that powers them, only know when we engage with content that they should deliver more of that kind of content.
As a marketer, you should consider if your content is adding value to your audience’s experience online or if it’s just reiterating what everyone else is saying. Don’t keep your audience stuck in an AI loop. Offer them content that benefits them in addition to making the sale.
3. Am I targeting an appropriate audience?
Whether you’re spending money on ads or using hashtags, always ask yourself if you’re addressing the right people. I always think about those old commercials on Nickelodeon that featured a really cool toy but said you had to be 18 years old to call and order it. Now, any marketer worth his salt knows they strategically advertised like that to make children ask their parents for the toy. Is that appropriate?
Well, only you can answer that for your business. But it’s always a good practice to be in to evaluate if the audience you’re targeting is the audience that needs your product.
4. Am I respecting the time and attention of my audience?
Now, you might be thinking, “They’re already online!” And that may be true, but respecting your audience’s time and attention will set you apart (and inspire you to produce value-added content). Nothing’s more frustrating than watching a YouTube tutorial for a product only to never learn what you went looking for in the process. Yes, people will always scroll. Yes, algorithms deliver new content every single second. Make yours stand out by actually being worth remembering.
5. Am I helping my audience or building my popularity?
I saved the trickiest one for last because it’s human nature to want our 15 minutes of fame. That’s why we have memes, message boards and viral videos. As you create your content, it’s always a good idea to check in to see if you’re being led by strategic thinking or pushed by popularity. Yes, you want your content to be well-received (and going viral is never a bad thing), but would you rather your company go viral over a funny cat video or because your product is the best you can get on the market?
Interested in watching The Social Dilemma? It’s currently streaming on Netflix. And if you’re not totally turned off by social media when you’re done, join us over in our Small Business Marketing Mastermind Facebook group, where we talk about the things, like The Social Dilemma, that impact our mindset and our editorial calendars regularly.