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Facebook Likes: The more you know about social media, the more you will want to stay away from it

There's more to social media than likes. And overcoming the race for likes could improve our experience of social media, while helping Facebook do better as a business.

  • Published: February 12, 2018 12:07 PM IST

The most popular social media network, Facebook, has been pitched as the most populous nation on Earth, albeit virtual. But if, in reality, Facebook users were to be given citizenship of a nation, it would be a country with the most number of citizens. And if you follow internet trends closely, terms such as Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z would seem familiar.

To cut a long story short, people born in different decades behave rather differently. A common observation by people in my parent’s age group point to how we’re perceived as a generation that like to finds our own solutions to problems. What’s unique about these differences is that they’re not really a rant about the younger generation. It’s deeper, and when researched thoroughly, it’s evident that there’s strong reason for the inherent behavior and mannerisms displayed by the young netizen.

Despite the popularity of the platform, it just appears that every now and then, we read about people going tired of Facebook. Either described as a ‘social media detox’ or simply quitting the platform altogether. The response differs but the symptom hints at a need for a better quality of human life. And there’s good reason for that.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to ‘fix’ Facebook this year

At the beginning of this year, Mark Zuckerberg took a new resolution on himself. He has decided to fix Facebook. When the social media network began, it was all about connecting with friends, and loved ones. Then the investors got involved, and they wanted some profits on the money they invested in Facebook.

Once Facebook evolved from being a dorm project to a viable business, focus shifted to earnings and profits. Since monetization was a critical need, we began to see advertisements. First it was typical ads displayed on the side, but soon ads took over posts, pages, and now videos.

Declining user engagement

It’s not by accident that people are increasingly feeling the need to take a break from Facebook. BuzzSumo, after analyzing 880 million Facebook posts, came to the conclusion that the average number of engagements with a post fell from 340 in the beginning of last year to a much lower 264 towards mid-2017.

A fall of 76 in engagements result in a reduction of close to 67 billion just for the 880 million sample post size. The situation isn’t any different for Twitter either. The initial days of Facebook saw momentum due to joy of discovery. But now that it’s an integral part of our lives, it a problem of aplenty.

A recent ET report described an experiment by Voxweb that focussed on the impact of likes on the users on our timeline. As part of the experiment, Voxweb removed the number count associated with the like button. The result was a 25 percent increase in posts created. Since content creators didn’t see a count of likes, they were more likely to speak their mind out. This behavior is attributed to the lack of peer pressure, or depending on ‘stamps of approval’ from followers, connections and friends.

The fight for likes

It seems like a problem either way, where the the pursuit for likes on Pages and Posts has taken away the ‘personal touch’ that a platform like Facebook was created as. Reiterating its purpose at the Facebook Communities forum in June last year, Zuckerberg is quoted by TechCrunch, “Look around and our society is still so divided. We have a responsibility to do more, not just to connect the world but to bring the world closer together.”

The solution to all our problems combined, including that of Facebook, is to ensure people are enjoying having conversations with their friends and loved ones. Where they get news they can trust, receive updates on topics that are genuine. That could go a long way in repairing the falling engagement levels, and bring the product back to where it began. It could make Facebook great again.

  • Published Date: February 12, 2018 12:07 PM IST