Are you like me? I’m like you! Follow me back!
Connection and desire to be connected through social media
The desire to be connected through social media is high. From being popular with a lot of followers, to staying in contact with family, while these are both connections, their motivations are very different. Being followed by those who are similar contributes to the connection we’ll be discussing today, homophily. Why is this important? Being around like-minded people, gives us the feeling of being needed and wanted.
Recent studies show that emotional contagion transfers positive and negative emotions from the writer to the audiences. (Kramer, A. D., Guillory, J. E., & Hancock, J. T. (2014)) This study just goes to show how homophily works, the desire to be near or around people with the similar thoughts and opinions as yourself.
What is homophily?
Homophily is the necessity to associate with like-minded people. Through our social media platforms, this could be be-friending someone you don’t know, following an online blog or vlog page, or following a page with similar interests. The benefit to this is that our emotions are tied to this through contagion, so seeing things regularly that are of interest, have a higher percentage to increase our moods. As someone who has high anxiety to do anything by myself, I find comfort in knowing that there are similar people in the world like myself, and learning their tips and tricks in order to function without dragging someone to the grocery store with me.
Personally, I find that there are people all over the world with similar interests to mine. You’ll never know who you’ll meet, which may just take you on a whole other adventure all together.
Contribution of platform algorithms
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram use an algorithm to assist in spreading their content. But, what does this mean for you? There are a few main factors that influence if you appear on someone’s newsfeed or not based on the algorithm.
1. How often have you reviewed, clicked, or interacted with similar posts as this?
2. How often have you or anyone else hidden posts like this one, or chosen to not see posts such as this?
3. How often is the page interacted with, by others and yourself? In other words, what’s the level of engagement?
4. How well did the post perform? Did others enjoy viewing it, and what was their reaction to it? (Agrawal, A. (2016))
Now, these are in the eyes of the audience, so keep in mind your audience is answering these questions in their head when a new post is made.
These algorithms contribute to homophily even more so now than they did when social media was at its birth. Personally, I see that platforms would deal with less complaints with content folks disliked if their algorithms sent them to a page or blog with similar thoughts and feelings as their audience.
Agrawal, A. (2016). What Do Social Media Algorithms Mean For You? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/04/20/what-do-social-media-algorithms-mean-for-you/#5cd0c30da515
Kramer, A. D., Guillory, J. E., & Hancock, J. T. (2014). Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.long