From the early days of Myspace to today, social media has become one of the most popular online activities. With over 3.5 billion users worldwide, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the global population, it’s no secret that social platforms provide one of the most powerful ways to connect.
Naturally, when Netflix released a documentary pulling back the curtain on social media – and our relationship with it – it caught the attention of millions in and out of the digital media space. The Social Dilemma, a 2020 documentary-drama hybrid featuring commentary by researchers, activists, and other subject-matter experts, examines the consequences of our dependence on social networks.
So, what can we take from this massively popular film? Read on for insight from our social media strategists.
What Is The Social Dilemma?
The Social Dilemma is a docu-drama that was released on Netflix in January 2020. It quickly became one of the most talked-about documentaries, with 38 million views worldwide. Directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski, the film explores how social media (and constant access to it via smartphones) affects human behavior.
Using interviews with subjects, including computer scientist Jaron Lanier, Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff, and more, The Social Dilemma paints a somewhat dismal picture of the state of the digital world. However, there are always two sides to every story, and many positive cases can still be made for the role of social media in society.
Our Team’s Take
Alexa Esposito, Social Media Coordinator
“People today have become more accessible than ever. The thinkers behind social media know how long they can keep people scrolling and how to feed their addiction to staying connected with everyone and everything going on in the world right at this moment. While I always knew this, I think watching the documentary gave me a different perspective on how the platforms were built and the mindset behind them. I found it particularly interesting that many social media networks and their features (such as the “Like” button) were created with positivity in mind. As a team that’s constantly in the social realm, I think it’s important to fully understand everything about the platforms we use on a daily basis and continue our efforts for good.”
Gina Marino, Social Media Strategist
“Being so invested in social media from the start actually allowed me to see its positives and negatives before I watched this film. One of the most important things I took away from The Social Dilemma – something I try to remind myself every day – is that social media can be so fake that it’s reality. Many social media users try so hard to be someone they’re not that it trickles down to everyone on the platform, including people, brands, organizations, etc. This has become our new reality – what’s real, and what’s not? It’s important to remember this when trying to remain authentic and spread positivity to turn things around.”
Amy Brady, Social Media Strategist
“Though the negative effect of social media is not a new topic, this documentary presented the idea through a unique lens. It touched upon misinformation as a result of social media, as well as the effect of social media on emotional health.
While this documentary didn’t change my view of social media, it did highlight some of the pitfalls and downsides we can all take care to avoid. Being aware of these potential drawbacks can help inform our actions online. In terms of working in social media, one important point to remember is that we are cultivating communities that are often greatly rewarding for members. By sharing information, education, inspiration, and stories, we’re creating online spaces for others to connect. This is undoubtedly valuable for members.”
How to Use Social Media for Good
So, while it’s true that, in the wrong hands, social media has the potential to be a negative place, these platforms still offer a wealth of opportunities to have a positive impact on society. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for businesses to recognize this risk and commit themselves to using social networks to benefit users and promote a positive environment.
Here are a few things to consider on your quest to use social media for good:
The Importance of Authenticity
Trust is the key to building customer loyalty that withstands the test of time. Of course, for your audience to trust your brand, you must present it in an authentic way that resonates with users. In fact, according to research, 91 percent of consumers are willing to reward a brand for its authenticity with a purchase, investment, or endorsement. Similarly, 62 percent would buy from a brand they consider to be authentic.
So, as you plan your social media strategy, keep authenticity at the forefront by:
- Maintaining a consistent voice and messaging.
- Identifying brand values and using them as a guiding compass throughout all of your efforts.
- Highlighting the real people behind your business – including employees and customers.
- Focusing on how you can help users achieve their goals and alleviate pain points.
Offering Value to Your Audience
Social media isn’t just about sharing photos of your products; it’s about connecting with your audience and offering them value that’s unique to your brand. In doing so, you’ll have an easier time maintaining and growing a loyal audience of users who are genuinely interested in your business.
Here are a few ways to offer value to your followers:
- Pull back the curtain and give users behind-the-scenes access to your brand.
- Involve followers in your business by asking questions and maintaining an open dialogue.
- Offer sneak peeks of new products or services.
- Provide product tutorials or tips.
- Hold contests, giveaways, and special drawings for your social media followers.
Using Your Platform Responsibly
Above all else, it’s crucial to understand the power of social media and how to use it responsibly. You must craft your messaging and content carefully, ensure that you’re sharing only factual and beneficial information, and foster a positive environment throughout all of your pages.
Social media platforms also offer a variety of opportunities to make an impact on your audience, community, and even the world. From providing helpful resources to running fundraisers and awareness campaigns for important causes, there are near-endless ways to use social media for the greater good.
Create Social Media Strategies that Benefit Your Business and Your Followers
As you plan your upcoming social media strategies, it’s essential to consider the impact you’ll have on your followers and anyone else who might come across your content. When you take the time to evaluate your social media presence, you can ensure that it’s as authentic, valuable, and responsible as possible. That way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your efforts aren’t just benefiting your business – they’re benefiting your customers, too.