It's so easy to keep scrolling on social media

Reading time: 3 min

Read @Brandon, The Effect of Social Media on Blogging

Interesting read. The post mentions how users of social media are unlikely to regularly visit external links (a blog), if one stops linking to the external website in their social media posts.

I think there are a few factors involved:

  1. People do not like to move off the platform they are currently using, and social media platforms are designed to be that way.
    Social media platforms are designed with the intention of maximising retention and attention time- the platform discourages users from moving off their site, even for just a brief while to visit an external link. The friction involved from context switching and otherwise actions required to navigate to and through a different platform is much greater than just simply scrolling for more content.

  2. Social media gives a method for people to easily engage.
    Buttons for reactions, comments, and replies are right next to the main content, making it very easy to engage. This also plays into the above point, where ease of access reduces the friction of engagement, and hence make it easy for people to express their resonance with or otherwise reactions to content.

  3. Social media will actively suggest posts to people in a 'grouped' environment, whereas blogs and websites are 'siloed'.
    Everything on social media is compiled into a neat stream of content for a user to scroll through, whereas blogs and other websites requires the user to go to that particular website, and move between each post with clicks- this is friction. This links back to point 1- users will likely continue scrolling. Even simply creating an RSS feed, although achieving a similar purpose, requires more time and actions than simply clicking/tapping on a "follow" button.

  4. People on different platforms have different preferences for content length.
    Perhaps those visiting or peeking in via social media only want a short summary or sharing, or are at least familiar with short content (given the short word/character limits on some platforms). This would likely be the case for Instagram and Twitter. Longer, more extensive content, although perhaps of better quality, might not fit the preference of those on such platforms.

We live in a time where there is so much content and resources available that it is impossible to look through everything, given our limited time and attention. It's wonderful that information is so readily accessible, but we now have to be selective on what we choose to consume. Social media platforms are designed with this in mind. They capture you (and make you spend your time and attention there) by making interaction with the platform almost effortless (besides scrolling). This lack of friction and efforts to make you accustomto the platform disincentivises people from exploring further, outside of the platform they regularly visit.


Further thoughts:

  • Combined with personalised content matching and recommendations, this creates an echo chamber

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