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  • Writer's pictureAntonina Pisciotto

How Should Social Media Marketers Respond to 'The Social Dilemma?'

If you haven’t seen the Netflix original documentary The Social Dilemma, my first question for you is: Are you living under a rock? Just kidding! But seriously, this documentary is everything we’ve been waiting for. It’s a societal wake-up call for our generation of tech dependent zombies and a modern warning for citizens of Earth.

The Marketers’ Dilemma

If you’re anything like me, you may have been inspired to delete all of your social media right as the credits started rolling. Directly after I had this urge, I realized I couldn’t do it. Right now, social media is my life. It’s giving me a great opportunity to practice my design skills and work with clients all before I graduate college with a degree in Graphic Design. But I can’t help but feel somewhat responsible for aiding in the issues that The Social Dilemma touches on.

I can see the good of social media. It’s wonderful for spreading awareness on important topics and showing your support for those who wouldn't necessarily have an opportunity for their voices to be heard. At Sommerfield Productions, we want to help small businesses create a community with their current and potential customers. We want to change the way people view these companies from a distant business to a place where people can gather over common interests.

But at what point do we draw the line between being there for our audience and manipulating them into thinking they need our product or service? Are we viewing followers as humans or as products being sold to us by the platforms we are using? Can a business truly be people centered while being financially successful? Even if you don’t have the answers to these tough questions -- I know I don’t -- I believe there is value in contemplating these issues and worth having a conversation about.

The Grey Area

The main problem here is that there are so many nuances as to how we may respond to our social dilemma. While a small percentage may delete all of their social platforms, the majority of us will stay. Multiple times in the documentary, these big, important tech dudes from Silicon Valley expressed their fear for a civil war raising tons of questions for us viewers:

  • Is change only possible when companies like Facebook and Google place value in making their products and services less addictive?

  • Is it possible to unite as a country to declare this as a real issue and take steps towards fighting the algorithms?

  • Should the government place regulations on how the tech industry uses our information and data?

Ugh, so many questions, I know! This is what I mean by grey area. It’s really easy to be overwhelmed by the extreme lack of clarity. Our technology has advanced so much and so quickly that we haven’t had time to process it. A lot of social media is still really young; for example, Facebook is only 16 years old which means we haven’t had a lot of time to really consider all of the implications that come with everything this platform entails. And I don’t know about you, but when I was 16, I didn’t have my stuff figured out, so how could they?

Most, if not all, of the negative things we are dealing with today in the realm of social media can be credited to the lack of maturity with the platforms and programs. Growth and progress don’t just happen out of nowhere. Things need to fail and there needs to be conflict in order to develop and evolve into a truly pure and productive entity. Look at the like button: something so simple and intended for good turned into this whole messy ball of insecurity, depression, anxiety, etc. Now, after looking at what we’ve created, we can assess our next steps. Perhaps, uh I don't know, trashing the whole like button concept in general? And if you’re worried about tracking engagement, counting likes is so last year, honey.

So… What Now?

I am really glad you asked. Here are my two main takeaways from this dilemma:

  1. As a marketer, creative, designer, or whatever you may be, consider the bigger picture. Have empathy for your audience and the communities they are a part of. Know the whole context of your client. When we are in tune with the person and their story, we can actually aid them in their journey on this planet instead of dictating their lives and manipulating their subconscious. You might be surprised how much of a difference you will make in your community and how that influences the world around it.

  2. Consider your personal social media habits and truly discover what is best for you. Can you afford to turn off notifications, even if it’s just for one app? Would you be willing to set limits on your screen time? Could you not check your email for a whole day? Everyone is different, and unfortunately there is no ultimate rule guide for a healthy relationship with your socials. Take small steps to prioritizing your mental health and take control of your life!

Join the Conversation

We shared our thoughts on this subject, now it’s your turn! How has The Social Dilemma influenced or changed the way you work and live?

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