We only see a tiny proportion of the content available to us on any given social media platform—Facebook, Twitter (X), Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

The all-mighty “algorithm” determines what is served up for us to see—and what’s not given any visibility at all. And this is driven by something you posted on line, or something you clicked on, or even something you bought.

The problem is what the algorithm does is self-perpetuating. In many cases, that makes sense. If, like me, you click and comment on posts about silly Siberian Huskies, you’ll get shown more posts and videos about silly Siberian Huskies.

That’s perfectly fine, but what happens when you click on something on a lark, or you’re looking for a gift for a friend or family member with different views than yours? The algorithm sees you focused on a particular topic and doesn’t differentiate from a random search vs. something about which you are totally passionate.

Politics and current events are even worse. If you click on something that’s pro-Biden or anti-Trump, you’ll be served up more of the same. Ditto for pro-Trump and anti-Biden. If you click on something that says bring home the hostages Hamas holding in Gaza, you’ll see more on that topic. If you click on something that is pro-Palestine and anti-Israel, you’ll be fed more of that viewpoint.

How do we get beyond this?

First, be aware that an algorithm is showing you what it thinks you should see, and that’s only a fraction of what’s available on any particular topic. Don’t believe because you’ve seen something on the Internet, that you’re seeing the truth, or even a part of the truth.

Second, go beyond the usual social media platforms and typical media sources. If you want to understand what other people think on a topic, look for a reputable source that’s outside the US. Avoid Facebook, Twitter/X, and TikTok. Read real articles written by actual authorities. On social media, everyone acts like an expert and it’s hard to sort out who really knows what they’re talking about.

Third, be aware that many people may not be aware of how the algorithm works. They think because they read this online somewhere, it’s real. Because they hear more and more of the same thing, that’s got to be the prevailing view. Arguing with them will likely get you nowhere.

And, of course, if you see a post of a silly Siberian Husky doing something crazy, go click on that. Might be the best thing the algorithm shows you all day.

Check out our  marketing leadership podcasts and  the video trailer for my book, Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing that Matters.
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