• Stephanie Wilson

There's Too Much Internet in MY Real Life

Our journey through the digital divide has taken us through the realm of individual accounts and your Top Ten, and then through the ads we see and Pages we engage with and things we can do to help those organization and businesses during what is typically a really difficult time of year for them. Now, we are heading into the point where the Internet and the Real Life collide – Groups.


In real life, we create our own groups of people we communicate with - friends, family, co-workers, other business owners, the list can go on and on. Likewise, in the digital space, the list can be expansively never-ending.


Facebook has Groups for just about anyone and on any topic – such as the infamous Colony of Ants or the Aldi Red Bag Chicken “that’s so good, it has its own Facebook Group” have breached the digital space and moved into Real Life through our conversations about these two distinct yet very different Groups.


Groups are the water cooler chats in the 21st century; and while some Groups may be punny or fun, not all are. Some are meant to be informative – such as the local Community and Neighborhood Groups.


Not all Groups are created equally


As I tell our clients, not all Facebook Groups are created equally. That is why you will see some with more members, more activity, and more drama than others – and for better or worse, these are QUALITY groups because they attain what the algorithm is looking for most – that sweet, sweet engagement.


Just like how your Top 10 is defined by your engagement with others, and the Pages and Organizations you see on your Newsfeed is based on your engagement with them, Groups are equally determined by engagement. The only difference is the number of people who regularly engage with the Group and your personal engagement within the Group.


In a Group setting, we have the ability to speak to more people. Which can be incredibly effective if you are new to an area or looking for something specific in an area. But, often, we as individuals will do things in a group setting that we wouldn’t do by ourselves or in real life.


This can explain why at times, Facebook Groups can be a bit more drama filled, or individuals will say things in a Group setting that they would not feel comfortable doing so on their own personal Page. While this may be the case, we must remember that in the digital space, these things can become dangerous.


Data Privacy? What’s that?


Facebook has long been a source of controversy when it comes to data privacy, and the stickiness of the ads we see on our Newsfeed is HIGHLY indicative of just how much information is known about us as individuals.


I don’t mind telling you that sometimes, Facebook hits the mark closer than anyone else and it can give even me, the creeps at times.


Now, that is not all together a bad thing. If we’re receiving information that is important to us or make more educated decisions on the area we live in or making a large investment - these things can be downright helpful.


However, frequently, we do not understand how all this information is coming to us, nor do we understand the intricacies of Facebook Groups and in the digital space, where it’s the little things that make a big difference.


Groups Help Us Connect With Our Community


There are two significantly different types of Groups: Private and Public. Private Groups are those that can only be seen by those on Facebook, those who have been invited to and accepted the Group invitation and any applicable Rules associated with the Group Page. Public Groups are just that, including open to anyone who is not on Facebook.


While Private Groups offer a bit of added security, it should be understood that when communicating within that Group, you may be communicating with those you do not know in real life but share a mutual connection in the form of a shared topic of interest. Conversations are typically thematically driven, based on the type of Group you are in.


Public Groups are typically community based and include such Groups as the “What’s Going On/What’s Happening In” Pages. In these Groups, you will find events, local news, and individuals looking to learn more about the area, looking for recommendations, or posting about lost/found items.


Finding “Quality” Groups


Now, I hear you, some of these local groups, make you shake your head in wonder sometimes. They can be just a hot mess of comments and side conversations that when taken into context of the original post, may have very little, if anything in common.


While this seems like it is a hot cluster mess, and in some regards, it can be, it’s important to remember what feeds the algorithm – that sweet, sweet engagement. So even though, at times these things seem like a dumpster fire, they are actually working quite effectively because people are communicating with one another.


These Groups give a greater sense of what is like to live in a particular town or area, which is vitally important to not only those looking to relocate to an area, but also to those who live in the area. Having these Groups that are active in the local community builds on our sense of community by keeping us connected on one device that the majority of us own, and on the same platform that a whole lot of us use every day.


The Shear Convenience of It


With Facebook recently taking over as the Top Social Media platform by average monthly users (overtaking YouTube), it is evident that while our engagement of this platform has dropped off in the last few years, our usage has only increased. With more people using the platform and less engagement feeding the algorithm, Facebook has recently implemented new techniques to get us to engage with that which we engage with most – Groups.


Not only has Facebook added a direct button to the Groups in which you personally belong to between the Home and Notifications buttons, the social media giant has also added badges and “Community Awards” to increase engagement on Group Pages – the latter of which has been found on a local community Group Page within the last month.


Our local usage of not only this platform, but others, is evident in the quality of the Groups and the availability of algorithmically driven “enhancements” meant to increase our already high rate of activity on these very Pages.


Local Groups Are POWERFUL


The ability for information shared on our local Group Pages to expand outside of our region is a key step in marketing a business, organization, or event in this area. Even more than this, what we consider to be small town, local events – such as the fountain being damaged – has reached national news sources and this wasn’t the first time an event in this area has captured national attention.


This is directly related to how much time we spend on our devices and online, specifically on social media. Now, this is not necessarily a negative thing, as through this, we ARE more connected to those we care about and our local community. We ARE more engaged with one another.


Which means, whether we like it or not, we’re going to come to a place where disagreements happen, boundaries are pushed, and at times, mob-like behavior occurs. Shit gets said that wouldn’t be said in real life.


And then we get all hot and bothered over something said on the internet like it’s SRS business. Where it bleeds and festers into other areas of our lives. Leaving us questioning not only ourselves, but other’s motives over SHIT said on the Internet.


It Is SRS Business ‘Yo


Here’s where shit gets exceptionally real:


Not only are Public Groups visible and readily available to anyone, even those not on Facebook which means we are inherently going to be speaking to an unknown audience – take a moment and think on that – Private Groups can be exponentially more dangerous, simply due to our usage.


Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles titled, The Facebook Files where in one article specifically found that the adjustment made to the algorithm in 2018 made the platform a more divisive and angrier place to be. Which, if you haven’t checked my linked articles – was about the same time Facebook saw a distinct drop in engagement rates.


Fun times, right?


Hold onto your hats, cuz true to form, Facebook has fun little ways of distracting our attention when they’ve done something that has caused some unwanted attention.


Within A WEEK of these articles publishing, Facebook launched the Community Awards (feel free to open those links now but come back cuz we aren’t done yet).


And this is NOT the FIRST TIME Facebook has launched something new when they are in hot water.


But Wait! There’s More!


That is without touching “Meta” – which is a WHOLE other ball of wax where if we don’t get this shit under control, we’re in for an even worse wild ride than we’ve already been through. I don’t know about you, but I’m about f-ing done.


So, here’s what I want you to do this week. Take a look at the Groups you belong to, start with those that pop up in your Newsfeed and notifications. If they are local, check to see if they are “quality” local groups and look at the privacy settings – it’ll be right by the name of the group. If it is Public, go forth eyes wide open and personal shit sealed (don’t give out your phone number plz!).


If it is Private - Look over the Page carefully, especially if it is a political, spiritual, or religious and look for any inconsistencies or “bleed” over from these specific categories, or any “us vs. them” derogatory type posts. These are usually topics that have little if any, bleed between in a traditional setting. Think about how these things work in real life, that’s how they should work online too.


As such, thematic Private Groups tend to stick to their theme and are usually primarily for entertainment and have little bleed over. Look for these inconsistencies.


Those Pages that do have a “bleed” be it political, spiritual, or religious and a high engagement rate on these types of posts are exceptionally dangerous. As they not only fuel lines of division and have crossed the barrier into real life, they also feed the algorithm as a positive reinforcement - meaning that you will then begin to see more and more of that type of posting, creating more division, more anger, and more isolation on your social media feed which will then begin to affect your real life perceptions as well.


Pretty Sweet Deal, Huh?


Which is the LAST thing we need after the year plus we’ve had and coming into the “happiest” time of the year, which for many – it’s not; and it’s time we stop pretending.


It’s time we stop pretending. Period.


This shit has the ability to cross into our real lives.


And we carry it around with us every where we go with our handy, dandy little tracking device.


That holy shit, for many of us, we’re closer to than our best friends.


Think about the shit it knows….


So, here’s the deal, now that I’ve hopefully taken the wool down from your eyes a bit, you’ve found that you have a *bit* more control than most would have you think. From now until the end of the year, I am offering free copies of my thesis, “You’re Doing It Wrong: Using Facebook for Personal Profit and Pleasure” for anyone wishing to get a “head start” onto where this blog is headed.


I will personally print these out and deliver or mail them to you. During this time, you are free to ask me as many questions as you would like.


Please be aware of two things: Symbiotic Marketing will be closed from December 24-January 2. This is my personal time to be with family, if I respond, please respect my time.


Secondly, after December 31, 2021, a change in fee structure for new clients will take effect in reflection of inclusion of PR and Training services.


Your business and what you do with it is an investment. It’s time it’s treated as such.

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I contemplated not writing this week, because lord – you guys have had me BUSY this week. Glory be! But then, as I sat sending out end of day emails and making my list for shit to do tomorrow, a song