If you use social media sites, you’re probably familiar with email or push notifications when certain types of content are shared.

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are setting a bad example when adding a new type of content.

They introduce new notifications for the content – which defaults to ON.

You’ll normally find out about the new content when you start getting alerts.

What are the downsides of this approach?

Firstly – it can be really annoying to force new content onto users who didn’t ask for it. Therefore – unhappy users.

Secondly – doing this creates false metrics. How can you measure the success of a new type of content when you’re forcing everyone to hear about it – instead of giving them agency over whether they see it?

What might be better

Instead of the auto opt in, how about displaying a friendly banner that says “Hey, there’s a new type of notification – would you like to receive this?” And then a Yes/No option.

Sure, some people may say No.

But isn’t it better to have a small number of people who like the feature, than force it on everyone and not know?

Don’t follow what big sites are doing

Big sites can get away with this because they already have a huge userbase.

Please don’t follow the example of these big social media sites.

Roll out features gradually, give people a heads up, and make it easy to turn things off.

The exception would be if there’s something that is already on by default, you could add an option to turn it off. In that case, it’s ok to leave it on by default. But do still tell people they can now turn it off. Otherwise, why bother making it an option?

Photo by Jonas Lee on Unsplash