Social media’s business-first mindset is hurting your community.

If you think about it, the rise of social media was actually a pretty natural progression of communication. Take our deep human need for community, belonging, and connection, pair it with a rapid tech boom and bam! you have the perfect storm for sites like Myspace, Flickr, and of course, the reigning kings of the social media world, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I remember the first time I used Facebook. I had been “invited” by a friend to join (remember those days?) and it felt like I was a part of a fun club or new group. There was no news feed, no liking, no ads, just my very nerdy profile page. It’s funny how quickly things snowballed when other factors came into play. Suddenly, above a sweet picture of my newborn cousin was an ad for a $500 mixer…above a politically charged status between neighbors…above photos of a dinner I wasn’t invited to. And on and on and on.

Yes, at first there was something exciting and even organic about it all. But now? It’s anything but natural. It’s targeted, calculated, and complicated. Unfortunately, social media has grown into something its creators could have never predicted, for better or worse. Because it’s not really about community anymore, it’s about business.

All that said, if you’re looking to engage and grow your community, social media may not be the best option. Here’s a couple things to consider:

Social media is not focused on your community…at all.

Social sites are about their own growth, not yours. They want users to join as many groups, follow as many people, subscribe to as many channels and buy as much crap as possible. Their algorithms are designed to promote mass, meaningless consumption. Consequently, your messages are competing with all that noise. Your community needs a place solely focused on spreading core values and furthering your mission without irrelevant notifications and lawn mower ads.

Social media is full of negativity and is likely bad for users’ mental health.

There are countless studies out there on the harmful effects of social media. Feelings of inadequacy, envy, depression and interestingly enough, loneliness have been linked to simply browsing too many posts. Social sites are void of the real connections we all long for. “Rather than promoting meaningful communication, the ‘like’ feature (and other features like it) can be a substitute for exchanging comments.” That’s according to this study done by Unicef.  That’s about as far as you can get from the true purpose of community.

Social media has lost the world’s trust.

Between mining your data and becoming a beacon for the spread of false information, social sites are working hard to get back into all of our good graces. Yet, everyday we hear a new story on how Facebook is rating its users on our trustworthiness or how these sites still haven’t come forth with all the ways they are using personal information. Bottom line, when it comes to community and relationships, fostering a safe, trustworthy environment is imperative.

Social media is losing key audiences.

While Facebook still performs well with cohorts like GenXers and baby boomers, last year the site lost 2 million people ages 25 and under according to the research firm eMarketer. To make matters worse, usage by younger groups continues to decline at a much faster rate than experts predicted. In order for communities to reach younger audiences and further their mission, they have to create a space where those users want to be.

Woah. That’s a lot to take in, right? Don’t fret, friend! We’re here to show you a better way.

We’ll start by saying please don’t think all social media is bad per se. It’s just that if you only use social media, without the presence of a meaningful, community-first mobile app, you’re fighting an uphill battle against all those points above. It’s hard enough to grow a community without having to tackle unnecessary (and avoidable) challenges.

As a connection company, our number one goal is to strengthen your community. We’re here to  create a safe gathering space where your members can connect through shared values, missions and goals–by offering a focused, positive environment where your people can easily get inspired, get involved, and give back. And unlike social media, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kinda thing. We’ll work with you to create the right feel and include the right tools and features for your community.

The type of digital world we imagine is one where people come to see friendly faces, get involved with good works, and are easily able to do the things they WANT to do, like donate and volunteer–free from ads and negativity. The type of digital world we imagine is one that helps communities thrive not just behind a screen but in the real world.

Like the sound of that? Awesome! We’d love to chat. Get in touch with us here.

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Social media’s business-first mindset is hurting your community.