How Filter Bubbles Affect Your Online Business
Algorithms rule the world.
Just think of a platform like Facebook. All your activity on this social network is tracked “behind the scenes.” It’s like you’re being followed around.
And then every time you use Facebook forever after, the site’s algorithm includes content and ads that it thinks you’ll like based on past behavior, including search history, clicks, location, browsing history, and demographic information.
Basically all of your credit card purchases, websites you visit, products you have registered for etc. are tracked and compiled into information that advertisers can use to better target you with appropriate advertising and content related to your specific interests.
This is why your Facebook news feed is personalized, unique to your interests and likes. And it’s done automatically.
Basically, you’re in what’s called a filter bubble.
What Is the Filter Bubble?
The idea is that by showing you what you like, you’ll stay engaged with the site, click on ads, buy products (which keeps advertisers coming back), and, as a result, boost Facebook’s bottom line.
Many websites work like this. That’s why you see tailored offers on Amazon based on your past purchases every time you get on the site to shop. And the videos on the front page of YouTube are different for everybody—based on the past videos they’ve watched. Even Google offers personalized search results. Try it sometime. Sit side-by-side with a friend and search for the same term. Often, you’ll both get slightly different results.
It also works across platforms. That’s why when you’ve been browsing on Amazon for books on dog training, ads for dog training books and related accessories pop on your Facebook news feed as well as on other websites you may be visiting across the internet.
Seems a little spooky. But it’s very effective in driving website traffic. And advertisers love it because they can target prospects very precisely by geography, demographics, and psychographics. Even better, they have reliable data showing what their prospect’s interests are—it’s a very targeted audience. They no longer have to comb through vast amounts of people—all the people they want to reach with their marketing messages are in one place.
Companies large and small marketing online can more effectively generate leads and boost sales thanks to the power of filter bubbles.
There can be an issue in that sometimes the user experience can get stale. The algorithm is always trying to give you what it thinks you like—so there can be a lack of variety of content. Also, cut off from other opinions, people’s ideas about an issue are reinforced—they don’t see the other points of view. Some experts contend that being in a filter bubble does not have this effect.
Using Filter Bubbles to Your Advantage
In either case, you’ll be able to harness the power of filter bubbles as an online entrepreneur as you can now laser-target your ads to a specific type of prospect, your ideal customer. They’re searching for your product or service. They’re interested, and, in many cases, ready to buy.
Your copy and offer can speak directly to this audience—it’s a whole different approach than standard marketing to the masses.
You can expect more leads and sales—and a better ROI for your marketing dollar—when you don’t have to hunt for your prospect.
Of course, as with everything online, things are always changing.
Facebook has announced that it’s going to change its algorithms so that more posts from family and friends will show up in your news feed. And that means less content from advertisers.
Less sponsored posts from brands and businesses. Less viral videos from high profile publishers. Less news stories from media organizations.
It’s a response to outrage over “fake news” that was spread across the network virally.
The idea is to make sure users feel engaged with the site—seeing posts from family and friends will make them feel good. They want to create a sense of community and encourage more interaction. They want to put the “social” back into social media.
Of course, advertising is the lifeblood of Facebook. So as a businessperson online don’t you worry about your Facebook business page — Facebook still has your back.
Advertising will still be a major part of the user experience. The power of the filter bubble is intact. And now users will be even more receptive to ads because they’re using the site more often and are in a good mood.