Insights: 5 Steps to Burst through Social Filter Bubbles

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TL;DR: Digital algorithms are increasing isolation in one’s own cultural and ideological bubbles. In order for brands to break through, they must invest in an integrated social media strategy that focuses on an audience-first approach. 

My name is Jurek Lipski. I’m an Account Director at Sparkloft Media. I wear plaid, own a Subaru, spend a lot of time in the outdoors, I have a dog, and I’m conscious about my carbon footprint. I live in a liberal city, with naked bike rides, legal marijuana and the highest number of breweries, per capita. 

If the election of 2016 has taught me anything—it’s that I live in a bubble. Yes, it’s political, but it’s more than that—I live in a digital media bubble that shapes what news I read, what products I know about, where I want to travel, my world views, and my perceptions.
I spend a lot of time on social media. I use it mainly for entertainment, staying up on current events and connecting with family/friends. When I’m online, I engage with brands and viewpoints that resonate with me. The platforms I use know they will get a higher engagement rate if I’m served similar content to what I’m clicking on— my personal ecosystem of digital information is pretty compact. If you’re a brand that falls outside of my interests, how do you interact with me?

Here’s five steps to help focus your social strategy:

1. Understand the Problem

By now, you’ve probably heard of the “Filter Bubble.” Many were exposed to this term after the election of Donald Trump. If you haven’t, here are the basics: a filter bubble is a result of a personalized search in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behavior and search history). As a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. 

It’s called a Filter Bubble and it determines what brands you see, who you interact with and what point of view you are exposed to. 

You can probably see where I’m going with this. If you only click on things you’re interested in, then served content that is similar to that, how do brands break through that tight circle of content?

Fear not. As marketer, we can learn from and use these algorithms to our advantage.

2. Know who You're Talking to

The problem, and solution, starts and ends with the audience. 

Too many businesses start with the question of what they want to promote, not who they want to promote it to. This is where they fall short. In order to break through the bubble, you need to know who you’re talking to, what motivates them, why they’re online and how they’re using social media. (Hint: it’s different for different generations.) 

3. Learn the Game

Social networks are optimizing and incentivizing behaviors from advertising by prioritizing formats and offering intelligent ad tools. These tools have broad capabilities, once you go through the learning curve of how to use them, the world of targeting will seem endless.

4. Connecting in Real-Time

Rich content is king. Right now, this is the best way to attract, engage and connect with your intended audience. You likely already know how important video marketing is—live-streaming is now a natural, more interactive extension of it. Live-streaming has created an entirely new way to connect in real-time, and it’s something marketers should be taking advantage of. Here's a great example of how Travel Oregon uses Facebook Live to transport potential visitors to beautiful and serene locations across the state when the audience needs it most — dull afternoon work days. 

5. Interpret the Part that Social Plays

The challenge for marketers is accurately measuring and attributing social’s impact. It’s important to know if your efforts are working, where you can optimize, pivot and change. This is crucial for assigning dollar values and reporting on ROI.  

I hope you found this interesting. If you want to talk more about this (or anything social media), please let me know. You can find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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