What makes social media so addicting? There is a plethora of subtle tactics that these apps use to keep us consumers engaged and glued to the screen. One of them, infinite scrolling, is a common navigation technique that I’m sure is playing a big role in our ability to procrastinate, one platform at a time.
The name infinite scrolling explains itself. Platforms such as Facebook are infamous for this feature, allowing the user to continue scrolling through new content with little to no effort nor end point. Dangerous right? I have a feeling these social media apps do this entirely on purpose to get us hooked forever, and I can personally attest to this. You name it: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest…even Snapchat has gotten on the infinite scrolling train with their new blog-like panel. Have you ever heard of anyone getting addicted to Google searches the same way we get addicted to Facebook? No, right? That’s because Google still uses a pagination format, which means that users have to click to the next page to view more content. 99% of the time, I don’t go past the first page of results for this very reason. But with infinite scrolling, the constant and effortless accumulation of things to read and see contributes to our hunger for more, waiting to see what we’ll find as we keep scrolling. We know it’s bad for us and oftentimes it’s not even that exciting, yet we still do it. Because this method is so effective, websites are starting to adopt a variation of infinite scrolling as well. It helps eliminate the need for visitors to click through various pages that take time to load in order to find the information they want. Infinite scrolling facilitates a simpler platform all while increasing the engagement of its user.
Effective? Heck yes. But is it ethical? It’s no doubt that it’s the company marketer’s job to increase engagement and consumer use. Infinite scrolling is a smart tactic, but is it worth the studying time and health it sucks out of its target? The scary part is that these platforms intentionally steal our undivided attention often without our realization. Social media companies feed into so much of our wasted time spent on their apps at the cost of our well being and more important moments in life. I’m not saying it’s their fault, but they definitely aren’t taking much social responsibility in making screen addiction any better. Should marketers and social media leaders be more conscious of their users’ well being, or does that responsibility fall solely on the consumer?