I recently took on challenge to unlike/un-follow every non-personal social media profile that I wasn’t personally connected to. The idea came to me after reading a few articles on the affect that all those pages we like on Facebook have on the feed of posts we actually see in the app. My interest stemmed, from trying to take a week long break from social media only to come back to it and find that I couldn’t really navigate my way through the noise of posts and updates that cluttered my various feeds. It felt like tools that were supposed to help me connected to friends and family only left me better informed about companies I had liked than the people I cared about. At the same time I came across a couple of articles that hit on the same notes.
One article is about an experiment, is about a writer who tested out what would happen to his Facebook feed if he liked every single thing he saw for two days. The results, his news feed became an unwieldy beast of corporate messaging with little or no relevance to who he was or his friends and family. In another article, I read about a tool, Facebook Cleanser, that helps you unlike all those pages you have clicked on over the years. Both articles essentially reaffirm that following and liking all of your favorite brands, movies, etc has the negative affect of drowning out the information your probably really want to see most.
Especially on Facebook, where many algorithms and/or experiments are used to manipulate emotions and the stories you see first. I get it, these companies are in the business of making money from advertising and brands so promoting those stories above all others makes sense. However, seeing the latest PR release from some company is not why I joined most of my social media sites in the first place. So I decided to try something a little bold and unlike and/or un-follow every single company/brand across all my social media accounts. I reserved saving only a handful of companies based on if I had a personal connection with them, a friend’s company or my alma mater; along with any companies that were following my on twitter.
Outside of the handful I spared, I was shocked that I had purged hundreds of accounts from twitter, instagram, Facebook, and more. The effects were quite dramatic. Facebook actually became quite relevant again and more importantly, performed better (particularly on the mobile app). What many forget is that like other technologies, Facebook feeds are a filtered down version of all the post that are directed at you. To get that feed to match your filters (blocked/muted accounts, preferences, location, etc), all the posts have to be gathered and then filtered; sometimes on the fly. This processing has a negative effect on how Facebook loads.
Twitter and Instagram improved a lot as well. though I see fewer updates on those sites, the ones I see now have a more personal connection than that cool shot from say Nike, that while awesome, doesn’t have the lasting effect of seeing a friend’s picture of her free diving in the ocean at 50-plus feet. Google+ didn’t really change at all. As companies were the only people really active on it, the feed pretty much went dead after that. Ultimately, the biggest change was that my time on any and all of the sites decreased dramatically. So, I think I will keep the brands and companies off of my social media sites. After all, I get a ton of email from them already, I don’t need to see a status update from them as well.