What Role Does Social Media Play In Our Lives?
To be honest, this article came about after having realized that I had been shadow banned on Instagram. Now, you may be asking what exactly a “shadow ban” is…
In a nutshell, a shadow ban occurs when an individual user (apparently, this happens more for business accounts, according to online forums) gets blocked from using hashtags to promote content. This doesn’t mean my account has been “disabled” or anything, and there isn’t an actual shadow ban notification; but all the telltale signs (namely, not being able to see your tagged posts in hashtag groupings) are there.
Why does this matter? Well, as a marketer, the name of the game is always about growing your audience. However, it seems that Instagram is now taking a more active role in putting a stop to these growth-hacking tricks (they are just tricks, after all) and is disguising it as “an error in coding” in their official statement*. After all, if they had been open about shadow banning in the first place, they would have received some serious backlash from the influencer community.
Now, before you continue, understand that I’m not upset about the ban, I always see things like this as being “the rules of the game we’re playing in” and proceed to figure my way out or around it from there. Personally, this just allows me to focus more on content creation, versus using tagging-tricks, alone—which, ironically, is what Instagram had intended the ban to do in the first place. So, it worked, Instagram! Well played.
In truth, this ban has really just given me the opportunity to reflect on the role of social media as a whole within our society; figuring out it’s place within our personal, professional, and marketing, lives.
So, where does social media lie?
Honestly, as a marketer, I looked at growing my audience as a skill-building exercise to see exactly how platforms work and how I could then tweak them. To me, it was nothing more than a “game”, but I suppose that was where my folly layed. A lot of people actually use social media devoutly; where as, I suppose I was abusing it for my own personal knowledge and experience. The reality of the situation is this: Instagram does not afford you any real-world, substantial income. Seriously, you can’t directly monetize this thing. That is, you can’t necessarily gain an impactful income (unless you’re a highly coveted influencer) with a large following, alone. A small business may have only 4 followers online, but could be making bank compared to what people with tens of thousands of followers are making. In sum, large followings do not equate to large revenue streams; large followings only lead to large egos (more specifically, identification states).
We live in a world built on social perception (check out my related article, Social Heuristics*, for more of a breakdown), and those who cary major social perception cary major (perceived) social clout. But to peer behind the veil of Oz is to realize what exactly social media is. And the truth is, social media is just a supplement to our actual life, business, or product; it is not our actual life, business, or product.
Ultimately, you can’t market a faulty life, business, or product—or, at least, for very long—and growth-hacking is simply fugazi* compared to real, organic traffic generated through meaningful content.
Social media is the content—your life, business, or product, is the creation. Social media is a medium, but not the message. It is a vanity painting on the wall that fades easily when the rain starts to pour. The question is, what’s behind the paint when it’s all gone?
For me, social media isn’t my life; it’s my tool. So, shadow ban or not, I’ll still keep creating content with the hopes that the ban will soon be lifted. However, this is coming from a conscious perspective of having realized what it is that I’m doing and who it is that I am… can you safely say the same for yourself?
It’s not enough to know that you’re doing something, but why you’re doing it in the first place.
Social media is but a small window into the real. A very thin slice of the reality of the situation. If you like thin slices, but not the whole lemon, then you’re in for a rude awakening when social media is gone altogether…
I once got prodded by a classmate during a martial arts class, with him saying, “do it for the ‘gram!” The reality is: I do it for me. The ‘gram is just a window so that the rest of you get to see.
-ignore the vanity and just do it for you.