According to statistics, we’re spending more time on social media platforms – more than two hours per day – than we were back in 2012. And the more social media accounts we have, the more time we spend online. And if we were just scrolling through our favorite feeds, whether friends, family, celebrity or brands, that might not be so bad. But the real concern is that social media platforms are full of advertisements, all vying for your precious attention.
In fact, some even argue that the real function of social media platforms and online sites isn’t to offer unique content, but to sell your attention to their advertisers.
And advertising companies have gotten pretty good at capturing your attention and keeping you online for more and more time.
But how do these companies steal your attention? Here are five common tricks:
The virtual slot machine
The concept here is that if you make rewards unpredictable (notifications, updates, stories, etc.), people will get hooked to something and keep checking.
When you go online, it might look like you have lots of choices, but you only have as many options as advertisers let you see. And this environment is completely different than real life, where there are so many more nuances, opinions and ideas.
Social belonging is a huge motivation for people. So, getting likes, hearts and social media approval is just one way that advertisers steal our attention.
Endless scrolls and autoplay options
With no clear end in sight, it’s more and more difficult to step away from your favorite outlets. Instead, you can scroll, listen and watch for hours.
The easy default
To prevent you from making a decision that could negatively impact the company, online platforms just make it difficult for you to make explicit choices. And instead, they make it much easier for your to make default choices. This goes for everything from newsletter opt-ins, cancellations, and customer support requests.