Social media is pretty much a global business that thrives off of our personal information. But did you know that they’re also manipulating us? Former employees of big social media companies are slowly but surely beginning to admit that different strategies are used to influence our attention.
If you want to see some of the tricks social media uses to keep you focused, allow me to show you.
The Color Red
Red pretty much means “danger”, no matter what language you speak. Back when Facebook notifications were blue, no one bothered to pay attention to them. Today, we hardly miss a message because of that stupid red number.
Use of Authority
Social media websites trick you into feeling safe. They look professional, they seem to be very secure (with the padlock icons and everything!), tons of people use them, and you might even think that Mark Zuckerberg cares about you. But try saying “no” to Facebook. It’s either “yes I’ll do what you say” or “I might do it later”. There’s never a “no” option.
Exploitation of Negative Emotions
Sites like Instagram have a habit of retaining “likes” you get on an image. Why, you ask? Well, to simply release them all at once so you get an emotional “high” from all the likes you’re accumulating so fast. So what will you do next time when you get sad? Post on Instagram, of course!
Variable Reward Systems
Psychology teaches us that the most effective way to develop addiction, craving and habits is to make sure that the reward system is variable. It’s something that’s been used in gambling for decades, but social media does it just the same. The most obvious example is your Facebook timeline, which matches interesting and uninteresting stories to keep you on edge about what to expect next.
Pretty obvious this one, isn’t it? But did you know that every website that has a link to Facebook, will actually report your visit to Facebook? There’s no escaping this 21st century world of very efficient marketing. Not anymore.
This is mostly known as the “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO. It essentially means that whenever you’re thinking of not using Facebook anymore, Facebook will constantly remind you that all of your other friends seem to be using it just fine – they’ll even tell you how many minutes ago they last used Facebook. What, don’t you want to keep in touch with your friends? Do you hate people? Why do you hate people so much?
Makes Companies Look Like Friends
How many times have you laughed at a meme, only to realize it was posted by some shoe company? I mean, you weren’t looking for shoes, but this specific shoe company seems to be run by people with a decent sense of humor – why not buy some shoes from them? It’s all a marketing ploy, but by putting company posts on your timeline, Facebook and other social media create an artificial bond between you and the company.