Final Project — What I Learned About Online Behavior….and Myself
I thought long and hard about the task “do something on the web about the web”. I considered venturing to the deep web. Should I try to figure out how to buy edibles, order a tiger, or hook up with a farmer selling illegal unpasteurized milk? My own fear of being caught at something made me move on to another idea.
I decided to do an experiment about engaging large audiences online. What makes people click on something? What makes them share it? I decided to create a Facebook quiz with clear language on why I wanted people to take the quiz. In my mind, my charm and the graphic appeal would net hundreds of responses. I would be happy with one hundred but my plan was to share in groups with thousands of people. Everyone wants to have a little fun online…right?
I had taken a Facebook quiz or two in my lifetime. Everything from what job I would have in heaven to what my animal spirit was. I knew I wanted to keep it light but first I had to figure out how to create and publish a Facebook quiz. After a quick search I was on my way.
I choose something related to diet and exercise because I am a member of over 20 Facebook groups related to keto, intermittent fasting, waist training, and cutting calories. *Rubs hands together*…my audience in huge, this is going to be easy. I called it a “Useless Quiz about Important Diet Facts” believing people would catch the kitsch and jump right in.
I created the 3 questions, published it and posted the quiz on my personal timeline. I also shared the quiz in multiple groups, comprised of over 10,000 members. I waited…waited. Aaaaand nothing.
I messaged a few friends and asked them to complete the quiz and *doh*, quite a few people thought they were being scammed and it wasn’t really me. Thinking back to the Social Dilemma and the news coverage about Russia tampering with the election through Facebook, it dawned on me that this would be more difficult than I thought. Skepticism is at all time high. Do I take Facebook quizzes? Not recently because I worry my personal information or friends list would be sold to a nefarious 3rd party.
Once I explained to people it was actually me, my friends began to share the quiz. I began to see results trickle in. I spent quite a bit of time promoting the quiz to people I knew trying to get some traction. I knew that my real traffic would come sharing in groups. Except….friggin’ Facebook admins.
Power trippy, rule making, hating, tyrannical Facebook admins. Most of them blocked my quiz for fear that it didn’t meet the spirit of THEIR group. I was asked if I was spam or trying to sell products. Fine then!
A couple of well meaning friends shared the quiz, but going viral it was not. I ended up getting 30 responses. A far cry from what I thought, but I learned something about the web. People are mistrustful of certain types of communication. However, if a friend does it, they are more likely to participate. Timing also matters when trying to increase online engagement. I would probably have gotten more clicks if I had released the quiz late at night when people are bored and seeking out mindless entertainment.
I learned that people’s memories are short. Years ago, I had a large following in certain groups but after months of not posting and commenting, people have forgotten who I am. Maintaining online celebrity and influence takes more time that I have to give.
Probably the biggest thing I learned? That only 50% of people know that after a breakup the only thing one should possibly do is to get a revenge body and post the pictures on Instagram. I thought everyone knew that one.