Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Due to technology advancement, it had revolutionised the way information is presented to us. Now, we rely heavily on digital media social platform such as Facebook and Instagram for information. As such, there is tremendous amount of information being shared on social media platforms. This is a phenomenon as consumers are always on social media despite having consumption fatigue. Therefore, it is interesting to understand the reasons behind why consumers behave such way. This could be due to the consumer’s behaviour or the way the developer had developed the application.
Facebook and Instagram have become an integral part of consumers due to the Metcalfe’s Law and in laymen context, it is defined as the network becomes more valuable and amplified if more people join. As such, this concept had resulted in exponential growth of consumers using social media. Metcalfe’s Law also tie in closely with conformity where people change their behaviour as they want to be socially accepted to fit into the society. In this case, consumers are using social media because of social influence but might not necessary be because consumer need it.
<3>Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
This brings forth another point of consumers being FOMO. Consumers would want to be kept up to date about the content on social media even if there could be no updates as they are worried about missing out on stuff. Przybylski et al explains that “FOMO has a significant correlation with motivational, emotional and behavioural” and this motivates consumers behaviour in using social media platforms frequently.With such reasons from the consumer POV, using social media became part of a habitual decision-making effort. This is because social media have become a frequent application of consumers and little thoughts are given to use it. As such, it slowly become a habit for many.
Social media have designed the environment i.e the layout that is shown to consumer to lead them into overconsumption on social media. This is evident as Tim Wu, Columbia Law School technology scholar, mentioned that “A lot of designs now is trying to turn all of us into obsessive- compulsives by making it so the loops are never closed”. For example, Instagram is designed with endless loops where consumers will keep scrolling for content without reaching the end unless they chose to exit the application. As such, choice architect creates nudges to influences consumer behaviour to keep scrolling.
On top of that, social media will have pop ups upon receiving notifications. Consumers might be thinking of opening the application with the mindset of checking the notification, but the application are designed that it leads you straight to the Newsfeed page instead. As such, this creates distractions and nudge consumers to scroll through the Newsfeed page instead of their main objective of checking the pop ups.
Social media application has made themselves so readily available as they prompt consumers to put the shortcut icons on the computer’s desktop page and on the handphone’s home page. Such short cuts make it easily accessible for the consumer into the social media platform. This is known as the principle of least effort as people would not resist to click on the social media.The way that the developers had designed these applications had led consumers into spending so much time on social media despite the consumption fatigue.
According to President Bridge Ratings Media Research, Dave mentioned that the increase in influence of social media is undeniable, the social reality is that this year, survey respondents are showing sign of dissatisfaction. This had caused the drop in daily social media usage from 70% to 63% over the last year. This had created implications for several stakeholders.
For application developers, it is important for them to look out for consumer‘s satisfaction level. Consumer’s satisfaction level will determine if they will continue using the social media platform. Upon losing consumer interest, this will create a ripple effect due to Metcalfe’s Law and slowly the application will get phased out. Although it is difficult to change the consumer behaviour, but developers could rearchitect the application. This could be possible by eliminating away endless loop by having the next page button. This nudge users that to continue, they must press the next page button (system 2 decision making) which requires additional effort unlike the endless loop (system 1 decision making). Therefore, the change in choice architect by having the next page button will make consumer more conscious about their decision to stay on in the social media. Apart from the need of being aware of customer satisfaction, nudges have indeed proven successful as it had achieved the aim of having consumers to use their social media frequently. Alongside with the google study, Marketers spend 70 hours a week thinking about whatever product they are marketing and yet consumer make quick and intuitive decisions within 5 to 10 seconds. As such, it is important for marketers to make use of nudges to prompt consumer to behave a certain way during the 5 to 10 seconds beyond the marketing efforts. This is prominent and have been happening in our daily life i.e placing products on the shelves along the queue to prompt consumer into looking and buying it.
To conclude, I believe that both consumers and developers have a part to play in preventing consumption fatigue. Consumers should have the self-discipline while developers could redesign the nudges via choice architect to prompt consumers about their time on social media. Nudges has proven to be strong tool and should be well managed. Hand in hand, this can prevent consumption fatigue and ensure that satisfaction level on social media remains high.