Have you ever found yourself wondering what it is exactly that makes people so drawn to social media – particularly Facebook’s Like button? What do they get out of it? Why is it important to them? And, how is that changing over time?
In recent years, social media has become a necessity in many peoples’ lives. But what are the effects of time spent online? Is it beneficial or is it harmful? What can we as businesses and brands do to make it better?
To aid us in answering some of these questions, we have only to look at the evolution and rise to fame of one of the most memorable features of our time – Facebook’s Like button.
Facebook initially introduced the Like button as a subtle way of sending a message to a friend. A Like was an endorsement or even a virtual nod in agreement if you will.
The ‘Like’ has since evolved to a range of different emojis on many different platforms. It has become the metric of success of many a social media campaign.
The introduction and use of this innocuous button has inadvertently spurned a phenomenon known as ‘Like’ culture.
In the same way that we are able to search for information, merchandise and entertainment online, we’ve developed the ability to search for approval as well.
Facebook’s Like Button Under the Microscope
But what are some of the deeper effects of the ‘Like’ culture on our society? What role does it play in our perceptions of ourselves and the way we shape and determine our thoughts and opinions?
Could our reactions to online content be moulded to conform to the opinion of the majority simply by the number of Likes that particular content has received?
This is something Facebook has had to grapple with as one of the most influential platforms in the world.
As I write, Facebook has started to experiment with removing the number of ‘Likes’ on social posts, with the intention of dissuading users from self-censorship and protecting them from envy.
Although Facebook helped to create and foster a world where value is based on the number of Likes received on social media, this move points to a bigger paradigm shift that is more in line with Facebook’s more recent directive to make . . . “the time people spend on Facebook centred around meaningful social interactions.”
The Impact on Advertising Revenue
This is also a strategic move that aims to ensure that users aren’t discouraged from engaging and sharing due to fear and anxiety around not receiving enough Likes, ultimately decreasing overall engagement and advertising revenue.
As society starts to call for more mindful and inclusive online engagement, businesses and brands can contribute by focusing on more meaningful types of engagement. For instance, starting conversations, positively influencing public opinion and effecting social change.
Social media often gets a bad rap when it comes to mental health. However, new studies have indicated that engaging online can actually have a positive effect in many cases.
Studies show that social media can make it easier to maintain relationships. It can also make users less likely to experience psychological distress such as depression and anxiety.
We’re so glad we get to be a part of a move towards positive change!