Musings of Tony Gavin, Esq. | Intelligent Marketing Sensei

Social Media Bubbles: Why The World Is Not Like What You Think

I only began using social media actively in December, 2012. Prior to that, I’d been a knuckle dragger and resisted the urge to use Facebook as anything more than a business tool for building social signals. Something I did purely for SEO purposes. I saw it strictly as a necessary evil for somebody like me, who depended upon organic search engine rankings on Google.

My, how things can change!

These days, I’m a prolific user of social media. I live in Asia. My family lives mostly in Australia. I have friends, associates and clients dotted around the globe. For the most part, I keep up with everyone via Facebook. That’s just where people seem to gather. In some respects, it seems to serve the modern-day equivalent of church socials and town hall meetings. It’s a place where people with ties and connections, shared beliefs and common interests gather. Check it out, and Facebook (or LinkedIn, or some other platform) will have a group that meets your interests and needs. Most often, you’ll be invited by friends who know that you have the interest to join these groups – much as might happen in the physical world. That’s great, but I have observed something interesting going on. Something that I’m not too sure I like.

The truth about “friends” revealed!

When I started using Facebook, I became friends with people that I had known throughout (or at some point during) my life. I quickly found my feed filled with pictures of their kids, pets, homes, workplaces, favourite restaurants, and a million other scenes from their everyday lives. I saw posts from news stories that they had commented on, stating their views. I saw posts appearing about those things which were passions within their lives. I saw personal triumph and awful tragedy. I saw humour. I saw great insights, I saw outright stupidity. Truthfully, I didn’t like everything that I saw.

Targeting your worldview

Facebook, Google and increasingly, every online platform try hard to cater to your every interest and need. In doing so, they also try (often successfully) to filter out those things which might displease you. Looking at my own experience, Facebook and I have systematically filtered out the things that I don’t like seeing on my feed. Annoying relative posts too many pictures of their fat, ugly cat – no problem – that’s what the unfollow (not to be confused with unfriend) button is for. Abracadabra – no more fat, ugly cat pics. Some church group feeds you too many annoying pictures of Jesus – no problem – that’s what the report post button is for. Do it enough times and like magic, Jesus just disappears from your feed for eternity (pardon the pun). So, where’s the downside you ask?

Social Media Bubbles

Do enough unfollowing and post reporting, and you’ll soon have a clean, trouble-free feed. The question is, how diverse will that feed be? Will it just become a place where everyone shares your views and beliefs? Has it become a place which blinkers your view of the world? I think that for many (me included), that’s exactly what it does. Do anti-vaxxer views annoy me? You better believe it! Should I really be completely obscuring those views from my world? Damn, that makes me about as ignorant as religious cult nutters, locked in a walled compound! As nutty as I might consider anti-vaxxers to be, I need to know that they’re out there. Right now, I’m hating the protective little bubble that I’ve created.

Time to burst the bubble

Right now, just as soon as I’ve finished posting this blog, I’m going to re-follow the hundreds of people I’ve unfollowed on Facebook. I’ll undoubtedly see the demented ranting’s of Jesus freaks, some horrid snot-nosed children, plenty of fat ugly cats, and the frenzied comments of some virtual imbeciles. I’m going to embrace every bit of it. Facebook, I no longer want you to edit what I see. Just feed it to me baby – and I’ll decide when to just scroll by.

UPDATE: Turns out that I didn’t love snot-nosed kids, fat cats or Jesus nearly as much as I’d hoped I might. The Unfollow and Snooze buttons are my friends!

Be Nice To Customers, or Social Media Might Bite You!

Just a few days ago the image below popped up on my Facebook feed. It was posted by a good friend of mine with the following comment; This was my dealings today with the owner of [DELETED] meat shop in [DELETED].

I clicked on the feed and was amazed at the 50 plus comments which followed – many of which were from people that I know or know of. Here are just some of the comments;

>>> That dude is a complete tool

>>> [DELETED] [DELETED] [DELETED] [DELETED] and other restaurant owners please check

>>> I stop going there mostly because like [DELETED] he is a tool to say it nicely

>>> [DELETED] he is done as a serious meat seller. Just wait until the Manila boys join this. They know how much I love my food

>>> Thanks. [DELETED]. I will save this post in case he comes back here again trying to sell me his meat.

>>> I just can’t believe his response The guy is a fool. Might be a good butcher but terrible at customer relations.

>>> The response “good luck to you” tell me he is a dip stick

In addition to those comments, dozens of restaurant and bar owners in his local area were tagged.

Just another customer

The guy who owns this meat shop probably thought he was just blowing somebody off. In the case of my friend, he was a customer who lived four hours drive away from where the meat shop is located and is probably not a frequent customer at the shop. What he probably didn’t realize is that my friend is very plugged into the expatriate community immediately surrounding where his meat shop is located, and which he relies upon to make a living.

Tell a friend about your bad experience

That expat community is small, but the combined reach of my friend, plus all of his contacts is a lot for such a small community. By now, that image has been broadcast all over the world. I’ll personally syndicate this post out to my 12,000 or so social media followers too. Fortunately for the owner, I’ve blacked out his identity and location. Not everyone did that!

Word of mouth on steroids

I’ve described social media many times before as word of mouth advertising on steroids. Unfortunately for business owners live the guy in the meat shop, social media is a two-edged sword. When you treat customers badly, social media can become a business destroyer on steroids too. Just think of that next time you’re tempted to send that frustrated text or email.