The Ethics of Social Media + Notes on Interactive Storytelling

The Ethics of Social Media Banner Image.

People are spending increasing amounts of time on social media, advertisers are paying more to reach them, and the platforms themselves are continually adapting to captivate users’ attentions for longer and more active periods of time.


Social Media and The Currency of Time

People on average will spend over 1.5 hours each day on social media sites (which translates to over 5 years spent total on social media across a lifetime if the pattern keeps up). Instagram, for example, has approximately 500 million daily active users (and Facebook has 1.47 Billion DAUs).

Advertisers are of course spending more to reach potential customers, published content is accelerating towards impossible volumes, and businesses and people together, meanwhile, are all trying to do what’s best for themselves & their communities (probably).

This saturation of interest is kind of a win-lose for brands looking to either advertise or dish out fascinating media (from educational blogs to infographics and more). People spend more time on social, yet, their attention is vied for by dozens (thousands?) of brands whose strategies are becoming increasingly robust and alluring.

(We took this 360° photo of sunflowers in an effort to spread awareness about the annual Sunfest event at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, NC, while encouraging more people to go visit the fields.)


The Power of Interaction

To save yourself, as a marketer or promoter of some kind, from dumping truckloads of cash and/or bitcoin into marketing campaigns that may or may not prove worthwhile, the application of interactive media (like 360° videos) into your strategic efforts and campaigns helps immensely while also giving you more options for brand/self expression.

“Millennials... don’t want a one-sided relationship with companies. They crave the interaction and sense of community and collaboration which can be foreign to many companies and their marketing/advertising departments. Interactive marketing involves a personalized communication method that provides the user an opportunity to interact with the marketing communication.”
Robbie Richards, SnapApp

Interactive content marketing is more than just a buzz word related to grabbing customer attention. Interactive content/marketing is a push to redefine and refine the impact of our experiences on social media, as well as a chance to bridge the gap between people and businesses (aka people).

With the blooming of increasingly interactive media in full swing, where depth into devices changes, our perception of how we engage with media, each other, and businesses, is shifting rapidly.


Less is, Sometimes, More

Considering the sheer amount of time people are spending on social media (especially on mobile), and considering the contrasting shifts to become more conscious about how we consume media, crafting your marketing strategy around broadcasting tons of content and trying to get people to spend more time engaging with your posts/ads/stories/etc. is not always the best approach. (Plus, it can be intrusive.)

Instead, focus on delivering high-octane pieces of interactive media that encourage people to invite themselves back because of how cool their experience was… while at the same time encouraging action beyond life inside the screen. (Not to mention, if your business actively engages in community events or festivals, this is an opportunity to bridge that gap between customers and brands.)


A Few Statistics

The data for how addicted we are becoming to our phones, and to social media, is staggering. At current usage rates, people are projected to spend over FIVE years of their lives on social media. And according to a (semi-)recent study, people touch their phones an average of 2,617 times per day. As advertisers, marketers, product creators, and experience crafters, it is our responsibility to promote meaningful engagement that won’t send people indirectly (or, directly) to therapy with a harsh case of cellular addiction.

Let’s focus on healthy interactions. On fostering meaningful and artful connections that are more likely to be remembered and, of course, enjoyed in the moment of experience.

The Golden Question(s)

Will the creation and promotion of more engaging forms of media, though, only prompt even more time spent on social media? Or will it serve as a sort of catalyst for action beyond devices? (Like FOMO.) I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Andrew Cheek

Andrew Cheek is the Head Writer and Content Coordinator for Beaumonde. He graduated from NC State University and is in process of polishing the manuscript for his children’s novella. With a background in literature and film, and a taste for half-marathons, Andrew’s inspirations range from Virginia Woolf to Wes Anderson to his Adidas running shoes. You can find Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn.