Etiquette and social media

Hello again, weary internet travellers. Yes, I know I don’t post very much! Turns out there is a reason for that.

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So two things combined recently, and I thought I would share and see if I could get any input.

The first thing, is social media. I’m pretty interested in things such as demographics and behaviour of people, and so I have been doing a touch of research in my spare time.

I found that on facebook, sites grow fastest if they spam out content. George Takei’s page for example, spams out several posts an hour almost even.

This confused me a bit, I’m one of those creatures who can be occasionally awkward, because I really don’t tend to like small-talk. If I don’t have something interesting to say, I tend to not say anything [though there are notable exceptions]. This ties in with how I find myself more and more hiding posts from George, because it just seems to get worse and worse, yet I find they still show up in my newsfeed. Though I do admit there are the occasional gems in all the mud, which is why I have not unfollowed his page.

So anyway, I looked into how facebook works.

Turns out that facebook runs some sort of [top secret] algorithms, which distribute posts from people or pages, and so pages will have something in the region of 100 views per post, for every 2k likes or so that their page has. That’s right. Someone who likes your page has something like a 5% chance of seeing your posts in their newsfeed.

It also turns out that a page can ‘boost’ a post, that is, pay for a post to be distributed to a larger portion of their page likes, or to friends of people who like their page, or to random people in set demographics.

So I can tell the newsfeed I like posts from this or that page more, by liking said page etc, but it turns out that this can be bypassed by someone paying for the privilege.

Right then, that sort of bothers me. Because what it does is [in my fairly uneducated opinion], create an environment where spamming posts all the time, pushing out lots of [often shitty] content all the time, gets more views; because each post only hits a small portion of people who like the page anyway. More posts means more small portions of your likes recieve your stuff, because these algorithms appear to run per post not per page or per day.

Isn’t this all a bit agitating?

To actually grow your fanbases on facebook, you have to spam all day everyday, so that it actually reaches people; especially if you’re not paying for it to be ‘boosted’ past the usual algorithms that are cock-blocking you from your own community.

Yes yes, I know facebook is a business. But bloody hell do they really need more business profit than is generated by entire countries annually?

Now this brings me to the second thing, a question of etiquette. And really, I’d love some input from any of the more well-learned members of the blogging community, and perhaps some facebook people.

I’m good at knowing what fork to use at a posh restaurant, and can pass in situations where there are rules to follow.

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But this is just alien to me.

You ‘like’ a page on writing, because well, you like writing, right? And then it spams crap about whatever it can find on the internet that its owner finds even vaguely amusing or vaguely related. Because that means it hits more newsfeeds through the algorithms, finds new likes and shares, and even if it’s all crap that is unrelated, or somewhat unrelated, it means more growth. So I unlike it. I just want a good bit of reading with my breakfast!

Doesn’t this hit anyone as a bit… well I don’t know. It seems there is no etiquette to it at all, and that facebook is engineering it further to make it this way. If someone has liked my page for… I don’t know, lets say it’s a page on boat sales… I would feel like a bit of  a tosser if I spammed stuff about sailors or fish all day, with a little note at the bottom saying ‘buy a boat here!’. Because it’s not what the people who liked the page want. Yet I would have to, if I wanted the page to grow.

I can’t just, you know, occasionally write something, or find something interesting, that other people with the same preferences may want to see.

Even with blogging, I’ve done a few silly posts, I want to do a few flash fiction posts, and I occasionally ramble about editors and the curse of knowledge for writers.

And I’m hit by the question – am I going to annoy the people who like the silly posts, by posting these other more serious ramblings? Am I going to annoy the people who like the ramblings on writing, when I post flash-fiction?

We seem to be funnelled to a position where, to grow, we need to spam and spam and spam all sorts of crap just to be seen on social media, and nobody seems to be asking these questions, or simply don’t care for the quality of content they send, or the sighs that they may elicit from their customer bases.

At what point did we forget that these are people, not statistics measured by follows or likes?

Well I’m not doing it.

My facebook page is going to post once a day if at all, to hell with it. I’m going to be wary each time I make a blog post that isn’t interesting to some portion of the people passing by here or followers getting mails about it, and perhaps that means less posts, less growth of statistics. And I’m fine with that if it means I’m happy with how I conduct myself in a place I find with little etiquette.

I suppose it all goes back to where I started. I don’t like small-talk, I don’t like wasting people’s time, and I’m not going to have a social media platform force me to either spam boring content, or plagiarise others just to appease the facebook algorithm gods.

I know the answer is the same, always post good content. But in todays age it seems that this just might not be enough. Well, it’s going to be enough for me.

Luckily, I’m not a business [or this opinion/course of action would likely sink it], and also luckily, I don’t really care all that much for the actual effect this has on my own things. Less followers, less likes, less whatever.

So if I don’t care that much, and I’m going to ignore all this information about spamming anyway and just stick to my own firm avoidance of small-talk, and careful thinking about what people may or may not like to read before sending it their way [or not, as the case may be], then why the essay?

Well what bothers me here is the causes, not the symptoms that reach me because of their existence.

I’m bothered by the thought that people after one thing are getting another, funnelled by the algorithms of social media or its momentum, causing otherwise good pages to be caught up in it; and that people are being reduced to statistics, thought of as growth on a graph instead of persons to be considered for what they are, persons; persons getting content crammed down their throats that they don’t care for.

Oh internet. What has happened to you, my friend and oracle of everything.

So.

Am I way off the mark? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Anyone have any good posts of their own to share on the same topics? Stick them in the comments, I’d love to read them.

As a note beside, I’m also fascinated by the against-the-grain etiquette of many of the bloggers I have run into in my short travels so far. Some of you are shining beacons in a sea of shit. Thank you for being that, and don’t get caught in the current.

-Mike

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