The days when social media was used to share some personal photos and connect with your closest friends and family are long gone. For the younger generations, that time never even existed. Social media to them has been, and will be, a place where influencers and brands advertise their products and introduce viewers to things they honestly feel like they can’t live without.
In the digital marketing world, this is called fomo, or the fear of missing out. It’s a technique intended to make people believe that they absolutely have to buy a product, otherwise they’ll be the last one standing empty-handed and, as a result, out of the loop.
Social networking sites drive the internet. In 2018, 78-percent of U.S. adults 18-34 used Snapchat, with 71-percent using the app multiple times per day. More than Snapchat, Facebook and Youtube were the most heavily used SNS platforms with roughly two-thirds of all American adults regularly using the app, three-quarters of them logging on daily.
YouTube is now the top-dog with 94-percent of 18 to 24-year-olds using it. Instagram isn’t far behind with 71-percent of the same demographic being active users.
With so much social media connectivity, brands are getting crafty with how they market their products. Traditional commercials and ads are old-school; the stars, popular bloggers, gamers, content creators and beauty gurus that people watch every day are the most profitable tools for a business, and social media may just be what’s stopping you from getting out of credit card debt.
Appearance Does Matter
Many of us grew up hearing the old adage, “It’s what’s inside that counts,” but that isn’t the case on social media. Online, looks do matter, and your appearance plays the largest role in your following. Ultimately, how you look and present yourself in the digital realm directly impacts how much you socialize and connect with others.
To generate a greater sense of closeness and belonging, people are inclined to hop aboard trends and even spend money they don’t have just to wear the hottest new product or “support” someone they like.
Products aren’t the only thing consumers are driven to buy, though. An Instagram-worthy lifestyle doesn’t come cheap. The most popular users of the site boast timelines filled with incredible vistas, decadent meals, incredible vacations and envy-inducing shopping hauls.
How do you keep up? Unless you’re a self-made millionaire or come from big money, you rely on a credit card. A fancy meal here, a nice weekend getaway there, a new outfit, blowout, manicure and soon enough, you’re facing thousands of dollars in debt just for the likes.
British digital marketing company Custard conducted a survey on social media use and found that 75 percent of respondents admitted to lying about their lives online. Less than one-fifth admitted to posting “an accurate reflection” of themselves on their Facebook profiles. One-third said they intentionally leave out “the boring bits.”
But most of our lives are, for the most part, “boring.” We go to work, come home, watch Netflix and do it all over again. Sure, we all have our own hobbies sprinkled in-between the mundane, but that doesn’t truly reflect a life we all want to see or promote when we go online.
That’s where the spending comes in.
Credit Card Debt Among Social Media Users
Targeted ads make it impossible not to see something you want when you log onto your favorite social media platform. Instagram uses your microphone to listen in on your real-world conversations and customize the advertisements you see.
Facebook uses details like your age, location and websites you frequent to hand-pick specific ads you’re most likely to engage with.
A Credit Karma survey revealed that parents want to spend more money on their kids when they see how other families live on social media. More than 50-percent of families were in credit card debt because they wanted to create more experiences for their children.
Recovering From Debt
Credit card consolidation and a more conscious social media use are two ways to start putting your life back into perspective and recovering from debt. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, and take some time to be introspective and figure out what you really need in life. The things you find most meaningful probably don’t come with a price tag.
Many people have put themselves in the negative just to cultivate a lifestyle, but what do likes mean in the real world? The people who truly matter in your day-to-day will be just as happy to share a cup of coffee at the kitchen table as they will be to go on an unforgettable cruise.