What do the young adults of today think of social media?

Our marketing assistant, Ash, interviews young adults about their own perspectives on social media.

Six questions were posed to them:
– Which social networking outlet is your favourite?
– Why? 
– How important are followers/likes to you?
– Why do you think that is? 
– Do you believe that social media has been more positive or bad in recent years?
– Why do you think that?

Some people wished to stay anonymous. Here is what they had to say:

Name: Anonymous

Age: 21 years old

“My favourite social media platform is probably Snapchat because it’s one of the first social media accounts I made, it’s the one I use the most to talk to my friends and it’s easy to use. Followers and likes did use to matter to me a lot because I was very insecure when I was growing up, so followers and likes to me, meant that I was getting ‘approval’ from others. However, now, I don’t care so much about that because the following and like count shouldn’t matter, it’s not real life and half the time most of people’s followers are people they’ve never even met before. Someone’s self worth and confidence shouldn’t be based off followers and likes. I think social media has become a lot more negative because of cyberbullying and trolling and it can make a lot of young people insecure. People  edit their photos to show the ‘best version’ of themselves and young children can look at that and think ‘this is how those people look all the time’, when it reality, it’s not.  Social media has added  more pressure on people to be ‘perfect’ and shows unrealistic images of people living ‘perfect’, ‘amazing’ lives, in my opinion, this can make a lot of  people (young or old) look at those pictures and  feel like they aren’t achieving anything and are also behind on life. Social media has helped me connect with friends but it’s also made me feel isolated when I see my friends hanging out on days I can’t join, it’s also affected my self image in a more negative way, as I’ve become a little more insecure.”

Name: Alfie 

Age: 19 years old

“I’d say my favourite platform is Snapchat because it’s not as ‘competitive’ like how instagram is. Most people try and ‘show off’ on instagram. Followers use to matter to me but I’ve kinda just stopped caring over time, like I just don’t care anymore. I don’t think that ALL social media’s are bad but some are way worse than others…”

Name: Ashlynn 

Age: 18 years old

“My favourite platform at the moment is Snapchat because it’s a good platform to message my friends and it’s not crazy addictive. I try to act like the ‘like count’ doesn’t matter to me, but it actually does, if I post something and it doesn’t get as many likes as my previous posts usually do, I’ll start to think people hate me. Social media has become growingly negative as I’ve grown up. I initially downloaded social media platforms to post fun things, but now it’s a ‘like/follow/comment’ contest and I don’t like that, it’s super easy to be insta or TikTok famous nowadays, there is no benefit in that and it kind of (I don’t know how to properly phrase this) but discredits actual celebrities. These influencers just mess about and don’t seem to contribute a lot. It’s weird seeing them at these big red carpet events. In my opinion, this can cause negativity because seeing how easy it is to get famous, can cause children to believe they should or will be famous and it can cause them to do mental and physical damage to themselves in order to get there (eat less, self-image issues etc). I’d say social media has affected me personally, in both a positive and negative way because it has allowed me to expand myself and meet new people, but sometimes I get anxious or stressed when I see people who have bullied me on my timeline or people that I’m gender envious of or if I see people more attractive than me.”

Name: Erin

Age: 19 years old

“My favourite social media platform is probably Facebook just because my feed is mainly the older generation complaining and I find it amusing/entertaining. Followers and likes don’t really matter to me- I post for myself not for other people but just like many other people on Instagram, it’s a confidence boost when you get more than just your friends liking pictures. Social media has become more positive in recent years with body positivity and more awareness on mental health but it still has its negatives with reducing face to face communication and cyberbullying.” 

Name: Peter

Age: 19 years old

“I’d say Snapchat id my favourite, mainly due to it being the preferred social media platform for closest friends and it’s where I talk to mine mainly. I have a mixed opinion on followers/likes mattering to me, as on one side, my desired career path can be massively helped by getting my name out there through social media, therefore interactions in that scene, can help. But when it comes to just me as a person, I don’t mind if I have 1K likes or even just 10 on a post. I’d say that social media is both  (somewhat) equally positive and negative. One positive, is to be able to interact with people all over the country/globe. I’ve met loads of people who have drastically improved my life through social media. However, social media can also be extremely negative, as it becomes very easy for someone to constantly compare themselves to celebrities or people they look up too etc, causing insecurities to build up and negatively affect their mental health. I’d say significantly, social media has affected me in a more positive way, mainly because of the people I’ve met through social media.”

Name: Anonymous

Age: 23 years old

“My favourite is Facebook as I can talk to my family abroad. I don’t care about likes or followers because I don’t care about other peoples opinions on my looks/personal interests. I personally think social media has become negative, due to the growth of social media, there’s bee way more cyberbullying and there’s general pressure on the younger audience ‘to fit in’ and  it feeds them fake standards and false sense of reality, I have experienced both negative and positive with social media. Negative: as it does get to me mentally when I see women my age looking ‘flawless’, I seem to compare myself and that takes a toll on me, although I said I didn’t care about peoples opinions on my looks, I do have days where I think “She’s doing so well in life and I’m here”, basically I compare my life, I think I’m behind/stuck, I have also been bullied online, which is something you can’t run away from because unfortunately, it’s everywhere, but the positive side is that I am able to contact friend and family and even meet new friends.“

Name: Anonymous 

Age: 19 years old

“My favourite social media platform is TikTok because I feel like it’s more of a fun and safe place compared to other platforms (for example Instagram and Twitter). I feel like from my own experience, there is less toxicity on TikTok than on Twitter. Followers and likes used to matter to me a lot but I’ve kinda learnt to not care anymore. However if you work hard on something and post it and it doesn’t do well, I feel like it’s very discouraging. I used to care about followings and likes because I felt like it gave me validation and I was comparing myself to other influencers. I think social media has become positive and negative. Negative because, there’s a lot of bullying, on Twitter a lot of bullying happens and drama, it’s a very toxic environment. But on the other hand, social media can be good to meet others that have same interests, to share your passions, and create an audience that can lead to a potential business or career. I have a personal Instagram and one dedicated to books, I feel like that has affected me in a good way because I get to share my passion for books and become apart of a community. However, there are times where I do need a break due to mental health but I wouldn’t say it’s really a full negative for me.” 

Name: Rafael

Age: 19 years old

“My favourite platform is Instagram because it has a greater variety of entertainment for anyone. Followers do not matter to me at all because I don’t see the point of caring about how many people I follow or follow me back. Social media has been leaning on the bad side of things for quite a while, with a lot of hate that is found everywhere you look but it does have some positives sides such as teaching people things or being able to get something important across. I mean, personally I use social media to look at things I like such as skateboarding and fashion but I also use it for fund-raising.”

To sum up, it’s fascinating to see so many similar but diverse viewpoints on social media. Many people discuss their own personal experiences with social media and how it has influenced them in both positive and negative ways. I discussed, in more detail, the beneficial and negative effects of social media in a previous blog (‘The chains and shackles of social media’). I appreciate everyone who contributed to this blog. I think we all need to remember that social media can be fake; most pictures you see are edited, and most articles you read are embellished; not everything you see or read online is real; and it can be difficult to find someone who can relate to you on some level. I write these blogs to show young adults, teenagers, and children, they are not alone and that many people can relate to them, but I also want to encourage them to be themselves and to not feel compelled to change themselves for the approval of others.


Why is TikTok so popular?

Here, our marketing assistant, Ash, discusses the world’s fastest growing app, TikTok:

With over 2.6 billion downloads as of December 2020, the app had more than 1 billion monthly active users globally by the end of 2021 (Statista) making it the 7th most used social media app in the world. This number grew to 1.4 billion by the end of Q1 2022 (CNBC), so the app’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down.

The ‘for you page’

The social media platform will  give content that is unrelated to the user’s preferences in their “For You” page. This tool is meant to increase diversity by introducing users to new content creators and  categories, as well as new ideas and perspectives. This algorithm can also remember which videos you might have liked, commented or lingered on and suggests new videos based on that information.

Other platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, could be claimed to have not fully addressed the issue of content suggestion diversity. These large social media platforms’ algorithms spotlight more of the same type of information that users previously loved, trapping them in a cycle of similar content and not allowing them to explore further.

The trends

Another key reason for TikTok’s success is the prevalence of trends, such as  dance challenges for popular songs or videos with trending in-app filters. The algorithm gives preference to videos that corresponds to current internet trends and because popular trends attract greater attention, other users are more likely to join in and generate material too. This system encourages songs, challenges or filters to snowball in popularity and cultivates virality in a way other social media apps don’t.

Video sharing

The TikTok app has taken video making and sharing to the next level by simplifying it. All users have to do is record and publish anything from their regular activities. Because of the brief format, neither creating the video nor watching it takes much time or effort.

Additionally, when a user starts the app, this short-form video material is automatically played. One by one, the clips begin to play, and the spectator becomes drawn to a sea of amusing, addictive video content. The sheer volume of content means it’s not uncommon to loose track of time while watching. Coupled with the short video durations (most clips are between 10 seconds and 10 minutes long) and the constantly refreshing feed, this can quickly become addictive!

TikTok’s future

Where to next for TikTok? Despite it’s meteoric growth, TikTok will have to continue to innovate and find new ways to engage its users in order to sustain it’s current popularity.  We’re also interested to see how they attempt to court more brands to start building a presence on the App. A few brands have seen success with their videos on the platform (Duolingo and Innocent smoothies are noteable accounts) but not every business will be able to embrace the casual jokes and authentic tone of voice viewers favour on this platform.


How far has technology progressed?

Our marketing assistant Ash talks about how advanced technology is getting, and how technology has helped/affected us.

 

Thanks to technology, it is now easier to do even the simplest of daily tasks. A variety of devices and technology are available to make people’s life easier. It has also had an impact on today’s culture in areas including transport, schooling, employment and healthcare. However, because technology is evolving rapidly, we are seeing what some people think to be troubling developments for the future, particularly in employment.

Employment and robots

Technology, in the form of robots, appears to be taking over more and more. For some people this is terrifying. It has been said that robots will replace up to 20 million factory jobs by 2030, 30% of jobs will be replaced by robots even the ones that are tedious and according to the Office for National Statistics, In England 1.5 million people are at risk of losing their employment to robots. Restaurants are now using robots to allow people to order independently without having to talk to a waiter/waitress. There are also food delivery robots called ‘Starship’, which take away the need for delivery drivers.

 

Sophia, the ‘human robot’

Most robots that have been created over the years are so lifelike, which has led to many people telling the creators of these robots, to ‘shut them down’, and to ‘never bring them back’. One of these robots is named ‘Sophia’.

Many people were impressed when Sophia was first announced to the world back in 2016. Sophia was created by a Hong-Kong based company called ‘Hanson Robotics’. Being the first well-known robot to touch both our intelligence and our feelings at the same time, Sophia gained many fans and popularity. She communicates in a delicate, educated, sympathetic, expressive tone and can make many facial expressions. Unlike Ameca, another human-like robot (yes, there are two), Sophia was made to look human. She is also capable of answering basic questions and holding simple discussions. Sophia’s eyes have cameras placed in them, and she can see objects thanks to computer algorithms. The humanoid robot can track faces, maintain eye contact, and recognise individuals.

It’s no surprise that many people are concerned about how advanced technology is becoming. Many people have made conspiracies about robots, specifically Sophia the robot, saying things like “Robots will take over the world” or “Sophia will forget she’s a robot one day and run for president,” and personally, I agree with some of these statements to an extent. No, I don’t believe Sophia will run for president, but I do believe that technology will only get more intelligent and powerful. Most devices that have been designed and made, are very helpful and even life-changing, but do we really need not one but TWO lifelike robots?

Healthcare

Throughout the centuries that we have been practicing medicine, only fairly recently many revolutionary breakthroughs in healthcare technology have been achieved.

Technology solutions are assisting healthcare professionals in improving performance.  These solutions are assisting clinical staff in improving patient care, creating better experiences, and reducing stress as hospitals and health systems accept value-based health reimbursement systems. It is now routine practice to use EHR systems or other technologies when communicating with patients and developing treatment regimens. Laptops and tablets have become as widespread in healthcare settings as medical instruments, and there’s strong evidence that electronic health records (EHRs) are improving access to and sharing of health data.

Many previously unthinkable medical therapies are now possible. Patients can now obtain MRI scans, X-rays, and a variety of other medical procedures to figure out what’s wrong with them – this ability is saving and changing lives every day.

 

Education

Self-paced learning is one of many significant benefits that students have gained because of the advancement of technology in the education sector. While some people are quick learners who can adjust rapidly, others need a long time to grasp a concept. Such pupils are fortunate to have the internet as part of their education; they can now easily keep up with their peers thanks to a thorough comprehension of produced courses and an online curriculum tailored just for them.

Technology has made things a lot more enjoyable than before. Pupils are involved in a variety of learning activities that help them remember new information. There has been a vast array of educational applications since the emergence of computers, tablets, and mobile phones, allowing learners to study numerous ideas in a fun way. They can also watch live streaming videos online to better comprehend a topic, theory, or issue.

Has technology gone too far?

Finally, many individuals are conflicted about how technology is progressing. Many people feel that generation Z (my generation) would be the last to remember life before social media and technology became so widespread and advanced. Personally, I believe that some aspects of technology are beneficial, such as assisting the NHS. However, I believe that, with all this new technology being developed, things will eventually get out of hand.

Although it takes a lot of effort and patience to create an outstanding robot, like Sophia, I personally don’t understand why we need such a lifelike robot. Many robots are helpful, but when they begin to take over people’s jobs and therefore livelihood, it becomes a concern. Many people are losing their jobs to robots in places like supermarkets and restaurants. Furthermore, it could be argued that robots within the workplace can be a health and safety issue. Why? – what if something malfunctions? What will happen? Society has become reliant on technology, even for mundane tasks such as cleaning, resulting in many people being unmotivated to accomplish anything on their own.

Enjoy technology but also remember to enjoy real life too, go outside and live in the moment.


The chains and shackles of social media

Our Marketing Assistant, Ash (18), reflects on what it is like to have grown up in the social media boom, and how it has both enhanced the lives of young people and had devastating effects on their mental health.

 

As the popularity of social media grows amongst the younger generation, it is no wonder why teenagers have become more and more insecure. According to the most recent social media statics, there were 3.78 billion social media users nationwide in 2021, many of which are impressionable teens. Most of our previous offline social interactions have been replaced using social media. Even when we’re out with friends, we feel tempted to check social media on a regular basis.

 

Furthermore, many children between the ages of 5-10 are being given electronic devices, such as smartphones, forgoing traditional play and outside activities. As a result, more children are installing apps with a 13+ age limit (such as TikTok) and are exposed to different ranges of content. Lots of the content on these apps may be potentially harmful and/or rated 18+. This could lead to children being influenced to do things that are harmful to themselves and others.  They might participate in harmful pranks, post embarrassing content, or cyberbully others without understanding the gravity of what they are doing.

Mental health

Many young teens have low sense of self-worth or a negative body image to start with, but seeing idealised, unattainable body types plastered over their social feed is surely only going to make this worse. Even if you’re aware that the pictures you’re seeing on social media have been modified, they can still make you feel insecure about your appearance.

When teenagers and young adults see influencers/celebrities that they admire and look up to, they tend to imitate some of their habits, fashion trends, and other aspects of their personalities. While this may not seem to be a bad thing, some teenagers and young adults lose sight of who they are and are unable to develop their own opinions and personas. Most celebrities/influencers (such as Kim Kardashian) edit their pictures before sharing them online – many teenagers may start mistaking fake for reality.

Moreover, to be mentally healthy, people require face-to-face contact. You’re more likely to develop mood disorders like anxiety and depression if you prioritise social media over in-person relationships. Multiple studies have said that heavy social media usage can increase risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal behaviour. Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among children under the age of 14.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is not a new topic, but the growth of social media has pushed it to greater levels. A few statistics from StopBullying.gov show:

Up to 43% of teenagers have been bullied online. At school and online, nine out of ten LGBTQ+ students have been harassed, 58% of teens haven’t told their parents or an adult about something hurtful or mean they encountered online, around 10% of teenagers say they’ve been bullied on social media, and many others have experienced vile comments. Instagram and other social media platforms can be major sources for spreading damaging rumours, lies, and abuse that can lead to bigger and scarier issues (for example stalking).

 

Raising awareness

However, we can’t forget that social media has also been used to raise awareness on important topics.

The #metoo movement, #Lovewins, and #BLM have all benefited from the use of social media. Many people have come forward to talk about their prejudice experiences. Social media has become a main outlet for people’s facts and information.

 

#BLM; The Black Lives Matter movement began as an online community dedicated to combating anti-black racism and police violence against African Americans in particular. The online community was able to organise, mobilise, and raise its visibility using the hashtag and social media platforms, eventually growing into a group with over 40 chapters working to support black lives. Using social media and tools like hashtags, promoted information, raised awareness, and gave the BLM community a place to form and organise online.

 

 #Metoo; The ‘Me Too’ movement started in 2006 but gained traction in 2017 when a few high-profile actresses spoke out about their sexual harassment experiences in the film industry online and used the hashtag #MeToo to do so. The topic’s popularity sparked a greater awareness of the ‘Me Too’ movement, sexual harassment, and assault with the hopes of reducing tolerance for abusive behaviour and increasing support for victims.

 

#Lovewins; Many people across many platforms applauded the Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 to legalise marriage between same-sex couples. With the courthouse victory, the HRC’s #LoveWins movement was pushed into full swing on social media, encouraging people to share thoughts and pictures in celebration of the victory by using the #LoveWins hashtag. Now there are profiles on all social media platforms, promoting LGBT+ rights.

Social media as a job

Social media has helped many people when it comes to careers. Influencers, such as Nikkie Tutorials, use YouTube and other social media platforms, as a source of income. Nikkie Tutorials is a Dutch makeup artist and beauty YouTuber. Her YouTube video “The Power of Makeup” went viral in 2015, which lead to dozens of new similar videos of people showing off their faces with and without makeup, she now has 13.9 million YouTube subscribers and uses her platform to promote make-up positivity. She also went on to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021 and collaborate with big artists including Adele. Nikkie came out as transgender in her ‘I’m coming out’ video back January 2020  and has since encouraged many individuals (young and old) to be themselves. She made appearances on ‘The Ellen Show’ to discuss her experiences before and after coming out as transgender.

TikTok (formerly known as Musical.ly) has grown in popularity. Many lives have been changed as a result of it, and many people have achieved long-held goals. Many TikTok stars (such as Vinnie Hacker) have been able to showcase their talents and have gone on to perform music, appear in films, model, and create YouTube videos, among other things.

Final thoughts


I am 18, and my experience with social media has been both positive and negative. I’ve experienced cyberbullying, I’ve seen disturbing videos that have been posted and shared across social media, I’ve seen my own friends and family compare themselves to other people, I’ve come across people who faked their true identity but I will admit, I have also met so many kind hearted people (who are now my close friends) through social media.

Yes, sometimes social media can be a source of joy when I am struggling mentally, it can make many people feel less alone (myself included), but you just need to be aware of the potential dangers. Sometimes I feel empowered by the things I see on social media, but most of the time, I tear myself down whenever I see the beauty standards of today.


Overall, we can’t stop social media from continuing to grow, whether we like it or not. Everything has a positive and negative side, and we can all agree that technology and social media have both. My advice is to use social media for entertainment purposes only, instead of allowing it to consume your life, remember that most things you see and read aren’t always true, find out for yourself using reliable sources rather than just TikTok. I understand that some people’s careers are on social media and technology can change people’s lives for the better, but even so, most influencers have stated that they gradually lost interest in making videos because of how toxic social media has become and they started seeing it as a chore rather than something they like, take Jenna Marbles, a former YouTuber (that most people know and love) as an example. Encourage the next generation to go outside and spend time with their friends and family, use social media to spread positivity, stay safe and use it to your advantage, don’t abuse it.


The rise in infographics on Instagram

If you are familiar with the social media app Instagram, you will know that its main purpose has been, traditionally, to share selfies and snapshots of one’s lifestyle. But there has been a significant rise in the use of educational infographics flooding everyone’s news feed, particularly in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Let’s take a look at how this has changed the way we use Instagram and how it promoting societal change for the younger generation.

What is an infographic?

An infographic is defined as ‘graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly.’

Instagram offer an image carousel with a maximum of 10 slides, which you can fill with whatever you like.

Users can take advantage of this feature, posting tailor-made graphics, with bold text, to explain elements of bite-sized concepts. They have proved to be a successful tool for education and spreading awareness, considering most young people consume most of their news on social media rather than on traditional news outlets.

The catalyst: Black Lives Matter

The trend of the Instagram infographic really came to the forefront following the tragic murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in the United States.  Our newsfeeds filled with selfies quickly turned into mini slideshows packed with cries for justice and equality, to define relevant words and phrases, and resources on how to support the Black Lives Matter movement.  This trend was picked up by not only the everyday users but also celebrities and influencers who had vast followings on the platform.

 

Since then, the infographic had been adopted by other causes and is used frequently all over Instagram as a way to circulate information and educate on specific subjects or topics. They seem to spike when explaining especially complicated/heated political or social topics, such as for sharing the experiences held by women of sexual harassment in the light of the Sarah Everard case, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

Here are some examples of how infographics are being used as an activism tool on Instagram at present:

 

@SophJButler posts a weekly ‘Sunday School’ graphic educating readers on specific issues regarding disability.

 

@everydayracism_  Graphics to educate on the subject of racism and how it can be challenged.

 

@theslowfactory  Frequently upload carousel posts on a variety of topics using tailor-made graphics and citing sources along the bottom

 

How the infographic can be used for your business

 

The infographic is a brilliant way to condense a fair amount of information into a singular social post, which can be beneficial to a business selling any kind of product or service.

For example, Brigstock Skin & Laser who post infographics to their Instagram account to promote their monthly offers or to provide information surrounding their expertise.

Infographics can be utilised as a tool to answer frequently asked questions at a glance. This lessens the likelihood of a user dropping off because it has proved to hard to get the answers they needed.

Each slide of the infographic can be posted as an individual story for more exposure and saved to a highlight reel for future users to find.

The infographic tool allows a brand to share snapshots of what they are offering, without wordy, lengthy and frankly overcomplicated posts. Providing a call to action in the final slide or in the caption will allow users to find further information on your website, thus promoting traffic and hopefully leading to greater conversions.

 

How to get started with infographics

  •  The free tool, Canva, is going to be your best friend. It is a library of pre-made, fully customisable, social media content – including premade carousals and infographics! The great this is, you don’t need any prior experience with graphic design to get the most out of Canva.
  •  Customise your posts to reflect your branding and stick to your own colours and fonts. If Canva does not have your font in-built, you can upload it manually. Likewise, you can upload your own icons, images and logos.
  • Keep the information concise, with a clear message, keeping to your brand’s tone of voice.
  • Do not overpack each slide with text. It is best to make use of the 10 slide maximum to spread out the wording. Whilst you can download ready-to-go infographics with the text included, it is best to edit them so that people don’t recognise it from elsewhere and so it reflects your company’s mission.
  • Put a small watermark on each of the slide, so that others cannot repost your content without crediting your business. This could be with a logo or with your Instagram handle.

Whether this is your introduction to infographics or you wanted to find new ways to make your infographics more effective, one thing is for sure, they have made a huge impact in all corners of the digital world and every marketing and social media professional should be embracing them – as they are clearly here to stay.


social-media

It ain't all bad: 10 reasons why social media is GREAT

Social media has a somewhat shoddy reputation. This has only been heightened by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook. But you know what? It's not all bad - it's actually pretty great.

Three billion people (about 40% of the world’s population) use social media, and we’re spending an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms. So, with social media playing such a big part in our lives, it’s no doubt that news channels and various professionals are picking up on the negative effects of socialising behind a screen.

We’re here to tell you about the positives, and trust us, there are plenty. We’ve whittled it down to our top 10 reasons why social media is truly great.

 

1. Communication is even easier

It’s undeniable that social media increases the ease of communication in a world where people are more mobile than ever before. Facebook Messenger and Skype are the glue bonding long-distance friendships and families. It also offers a type of freedom to people who found traditional forms of communicating difficult; many marginalised groups, such as the elderly and disabled, have created online communities that connect them to people all over the world, or even just down the road. Suddenly, even if you are physically isolated, you can still feel connected and sociable.

 

2. Creating communities

In a similar vein, social media connects like-minded people into communities where they feel safe to discuss different subjects without being ridiculed. Movements like ‘March for our lives’ and ‘#MeToo’ have gained a large majority of their support and grassroots activists through social media. By using hashtags, social media users can create communities that align with their beliefs and provide support (online and in real life). This is a great example of how social media can be misunderstood as a singular activity when really it excels at bringing people together.

Social media connects like-minded people

march-for-our-lives

3. Generating job opportunities

If social media did not exist, I would not be sitting here writing this article. Not because this article is about social media, but because that is my job – to manage social media accounts. Not only that, but younger generations like millennials have really cottoned on to the value of social media as a legitimate brand platform – Justin Bieber was signed to a successful record label after proving his saleability and talents uploading covers and original songs to YouTube. Likewise, Ed Sheeran’s initial success was related to his presence on the video platform. What’s better is that as fans we feel closer to these celebrities – we have literally watched them go from bedroom singers to sell-out arena artists thanks to social media.

 

4. Engaging with customers

Many tech-savvy businesses benefit from having a social media presence, after all, that’s where their audience is. Not only can businesses use it as a tool to increase customer engagement, but customers use it as a tool to contact companies for enquiries and complaints. Twitter is a great example of this, with many large brands having dedicated customer service accounts where customers can get replies within minutes.

 

5. Free lessons in pretty much anything

Have you ever watched a ‘how to’ video on YouTube or Facebook – be that make up tutorials, solving software issues, playing instruments, cooking dishes, gym workouts, etc? Congratulations, you’ve used social media to learn something new! More than ever, we are reaching for our phones to find the answers to everything and anything.

 

6. Breaking news faster than ever

Nothing spreads faster than news on social media. Whether it’s a football club signing, a terrorist incident, a political upset, or a famous couple ending their relationship; chances are, it’ll be trending on Twitter before you can say “Donald Trump”. Twitter is great at breaking the news but problematic at qualifying the facts. After the initial story breaks, the lines between facts and fiction can get a bit blurry, especially on Twitter where 328 million monthly active users can pile in with opinions. But it’s worth remembering that while mistakes can be made more quickly than traditional media, they can also be fixed just as quickly.

social-media

Twitter is great at breaking news

7. Sending messages of safety

One of the most useful features Facebook has developed in the past few years is a ‘mark yourself safe’ option, Safety Check. This feature was first established during the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in 2015 but have since been used in acts of terrorism in Paris, Brussels and London. You have the option to mark yourself as ‘safe’ after an incident or natural disaster in your surrounding area, so your friends and family all over the globe know you’re OK. Features like this can relieve some of the pressure off overloaded infrastructures where disaster has struck.

 

8. Communal learning

One unlikely outcome of the meteoric rise of social media use is a better communal understanding of some subjects. Cast your mind back a month or so and you may remember social media raving about an audio clip that divided listeners. Some of them could hear ‘Yanny’ and some of them would hear ‘Laurel’ – we bet if it did find its way onto your feed, you now know why we hear different names. This is a learned experience; something you have learnt simply from the hype of social media. Although they seem trivial trends and tend to be over in a day or two, some pretty interesting articles have been written about what we can learn about ourselves from these communal discussions.

 

9. A global marketplace

The integration of online shopping into a selection of different apps has made it easier than ever before to make purchases (we’re counting this as positive, but your bank balance might not agree). This isn’t just about YouTube and Instagram influencers trying to tout their newest clothing collaborations; Instagram has enabled many designers, photographers and illustrators to curate followings and sell their work to audiences all over the world.

 

10. Social media gives everyone a voice

The final point to be made is that there are no gatekeepers when you publish via your social profile (aside from each platform’s terms of use) – you can write anything, and anyone has the chance to view it. Social media tends to be more democratized than traditional print media (which hasn’t always offered the most representative sample of voices) and it has given everyone a medium through which to express themselves.

 

There you have it – our top 10 reasons why social media is great. Considering the improvements that social media has made to lots of aspects of our lives, as evidenced above, it seems a little harsh to write it off in one fell swoop.

What do you think, have we persuaded you into giving social media another chance?


siri

Is social media targeting ads based on our conversations?

Have you ever mentioned a product in spoken conversation only to be advertised that exact product on social media hours later? We have.

There could be a number of reasons for this, but we’re going to discuss the two most plausible explanations: either algorithms are much more sophisticated than we think, or companies are listening to our conversations through our mobile microphones. So which is true?

We feed sensitive information to all sorts of hungry machines from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. In fact, some of us track what’s happening to us even whilst we sleep. Our devices and phones know where we are, the route we used to get there, who we’re likely to talk to, and can predict when we’ll be on the move again. And that’s readily available information – think about what we manually input; Do you take photos of your food? Do you track your steps and calorie intake? Do you monitor your heart rate and sleep pattern? Do you use internet banking? Technology knows a lot about us.

Over the past few years users have suspected social media platforms of listening in on conversations through mobile phone microphones. For good reason too, as with the emergence of virtual assistants (Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Home) we’re talking to technology more than ever. But here’s the conundrum: how much of this information is shared? I’m not the only one who has been targeted with extremely particular advertising on social media. So how do the likes of Facebook know what I’m talking about?

Theory one: our phones are listening to us

Do our phones listen to our conversations?

Google and Facebook categorically reject accusations that they are listening to our conversations to advertise to us. The thing is, this doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. As pointed out by Terra Ferma Media MD David, if you have an android phone, Google IS listening to and recording your conversations. It’s highly likely that Apple users have the same issue, but there’s no way to turn this off yet. So they’re listening, but both social giants insist they aren’t using this information for advertising. Facebook released a statement about this in 2016.

Google has a developer policy that all app developers must agree to that specifies apps must not breach privacy in this way (you can get lost in the policy here).

It’s also worth reminding you that Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram. Google owns YouTube and Google Maps. The point is these companies have a lot of information about us, whether we like it or not, and are using this information to their advantage.

Theory two: it's just a clever algorithm

Is it just a clever algorithm?

Every social media platform is governed by algorithms. Twitter is a good example of this with its trending topics; a live, fast-moving algorithm that displays the most popular topics based on a number of rules (how many people are talking about the topic, at what speed the topic arose, how many verified users are talking about it, if it’s a breaking news item, etc).

Facebook probably uses the most advanced algorithms in the game. The benefit Facebook has over other platforms is the plethora of your friends’ data. Facebook knows who your family is, who your partner is (and ex-partners), and who your closest friends are based on interactions. You and your close friends probably have a similar way of thinking, or are interested in similar topics, so Facebook will assume that anything your closest friends are talking about will be of interest to you. This also means whatever your friends are searching for, reading, liking, hiding, and following could also be of interest to you. This is how clever targeted advertising comes into play.

We also can’t ignore the fact that companies advertising on Facebook have a huge range of data available to them. They can target people living in certain locations of particular genders and ages, people who attend certain schools or workplaces, commuters, people with particular interests, and so much more. Combined, these two methods of data gathering is probably the outcome of the adverts you’re seeing. No hocus pocus.

Our advice? Keep talking.

Finally, to cover all bases, we need to mention cookies and remarketing. A cookie (apart from being delicious) is a small code left on every web page you visit, telling the website owners which pages you’ve clicked on. Take Amazon: you’ve probably browsed something on the Amazon website only to see that product advertised to you on Facebook too. This is because Amazon remembers what you’ve looked at (via a cookie) and uses their advertising space on Facebook to show this product to you again (remarketing). Even if you searched for something months ago, if Amazon wants to sell it to you, it will advertise that product to you.

So where does this leave us? Facebook and Google both deny using the microphones on our phones to listen in to our conversations for advertising purposes. Can we believe them? On the algorithm side of the coin, there are three things at play:

  1. Sophisticated algorithms taking data from your extended friendship groups
  2. Companies having excessive amounts of advertising data to target specific audiences
  3. Social platforms storing information about your online habits

These factors combined make a convincing case that could make you think you’re being listened to. It really is that clever.

Ultimately we don’t have the magic answer, and of course if large companies were indeed using our conversations to advertise to us, they wouldn’t exactly shout it from the rooftops.

Our advice? Keep talking. While there’s no evidence of any wrong doing, if you are being targeted with relevant ads, then what’s the harm? If you’re that worried why not start talking about the lottery and see what happens. You never know…

 

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fake-followers

Real news about fake followers

Director David Fernando sounds off about fake followers on Twitter (in other words, cheats). He writes:

News this week claims that up to 50% of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers are probably fake. That’s genuine ‘fake news’ I guess. But how do we know?

When Trump announced his candidacy for President, his Twitter account had just over 8 million followers. Today that number has swelled to 31 million. Perhaps not surprising for POTUS but according to a wide variety of sources including  The Metro, Newsweek and others – 14,776,939 of these are not real people, they are most likely to be automated “bots” – paid for by the account owner.

Donald Trump fake followers

Why? Simple. Vanity and power. A high number of fake followers can artificially boost the perceived popularity of social media accounts thus positioning the owners as influencers. You don’t have to look far to find other examples of this dubious practice, in even your local neighbourhood (and, yes, we all know who you are in Wimbledon).

Fake followers can be bought online for around $90 per 10,000. True, not all fake followers are bought, and every account will probably have a small number. But an account that has a significant number of them has probably acquired them illegitimately in an attempt to dupe people.

Accounts that have (seemingly) popular social media accounts can help win business and influence people. They can also inflate the social media assets of their company and therefore apparent value (although any decent due diligence would quickly uncover the truth).

And how do you find out the truth? Well, there are many ways. You can even try it yourself for any Twitter username here: Twitter Audit or here: Fakers.

It’s not a fake fact that when it comes to social media, sadly many businesses are still convinced that a large number of followers is more important than good levels of engagement.  But, as a sensible business knows, the real value is not the number of followers you have but the levels of engagement you achieve via your social media activities.

“Why does any of this matter?”, I hear you ask. Well, in the grand scheme of things when famine is about to claim millions of lives in Yemen, the honest answer is, “It doesn’t”.

However, in a world where the social media giants are under increasing pressure to root out deception in their channels, it still resonates and should be addressed.


social-media-managers

5 things beginner Social Media Managers should know

With 2.3 billion people using social media, it's no surprise that it has become a key pillar of companies' business strategies.

Major brands have dedicated teams looking after their social channels, but what if you don’t have the capacity for a social media team? If you’re about to embark on managing social media accounts, we think you’ll like these tips.

1. Use a dedicated Facebook account.

You’ll thank us for this one. To become an admin of a Facebook page you must link the page to a personal account. This means, day and night, you will receive notifications from business pages linked to your private account. You’ll be bombarded with likes, comments, and analytics from business pages and your personal notifications will become few and far between. So, create a new Facebook account to keep your personal and work accounts separate. If you need to keep on top of things you can still receive notifications, but if you don’t want to receive them out of working hours, you don’t have to. Bliss.

2. Audit, audit, audit.

It’s difficult to measure ROI with social media, but something you can track is the number of followers, reach, likes, comments and shares. Keeping on top of progress is essential for figuring out what sort of campaigns your audience responds to. Audit your channels once a month (always on the same date) to keep track of progress (or lack of). Improvements can always be made, but you need to know what’s working – and not working – beforehand.

A well thought out content plan will keep you and your client on track.

3. Create a content plan.

If you want to ‘do’ social media well, you need to plan. Posting ad-hoc day-by-day isn’t good enough when it comes to successful accounts. Yes, you need to stay current and keep an eye on the day’s news, but preparing a monthly plan is imperative. Outline key social dates as well as key dates for your business (product launches, offers, events). Your plan doesn’t need to be fancy – we use a Google Sheet – but make sure it’s clear, you include all social channels, and you have a way to share this information with other employees or clients. Hootsuite has a free social media plan you can download here.

4. Keep up with the Joneses.

Who are your competitors? What are they doing on social media? What’s the latest feature on Facebook advertising? What are the popular hashtags on Instagram? Don’t get left behind – social platforms release updates and new features all the time, and if you’re not in the know, you’re already lagging. We like to keep up with Mari Smith for Facebook updates, she really knows her stuff.

5. Have clear goals.

This might sound obvious, but it’s easy to get side tracked. Are you using social media to increase footfall in-store? To raise brand awareness online? To encourage conversation and interaction? To sell something? Whatever your goal is, stick to it. There’s not much point in advertising online if customers aren’t coming in-store – why not create an online offer that’s redeemable in-store only? Always keep your main objectives in mind.


smart-phone

What's happening with social media in 2017?

The social media world moves fast.

While it’s pretty much impossible to predict what will happen to social media this year, here are a number of trends you should keep a close eye on in 2017.

 

1. Paid content continues to soar

It’s extremely difficult for businesses to reach their audience with organic content. The answer to this problem is paid content (adverts), which is fast becoming a dog-eat-dog world as competition rises. Brands are paying more than ever to be seen online. Social media ad spend is estimated to surpass $41 billion in 2017.

2. Social commerce shakes up online purchasing

Customers want products, and they want them now. With 75% of consumers making a purchase because they saw it on social media, it’s no mystery why brands are bending backwards to sell on social media. Instagram’s instant purchase feature (a button under an image) is set to soar, and businesses are creating Instagram-specific pages where all items featured in a photo are listed. Brands are tapping into their follower’s emotions for purchases – 28% of consumers said a brand’s social presence was the biggest reason to try new products or services.

3. Customer service becomes a priority

34.5% of people choose to contact brands through social media for customer care, beating website/live-chat, email and phone methods (see below). Complaining on social media is public – everyone can see complaints – which forces brands to keep customers happy and up their reputation. The positive of this is that if your social media management is good, customers will also see you’re great at responding to issues. If it’s bad, well… You know the drill.

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4. Millennials are moving away from Facebook

While Facebook still remains extremely popular, it is actually becoming more popular with non-millennials. 41% of millennials use Facebook every day, but it is their least popular social media platform, preferring YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. For younger millennials, disappearing content platforms are the bee’s knees. The allure of disappearing content is too tempting to ignore, with Snapchat reigning and Instagram following suit with Stories. Make sure you know where your target audience are hanging out online.

5. Live video

We can’t mention social media and 2017 without talking about video. In this case, live videos will dominate in 2017. Nothing is more in-the-moment than live video, and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram already offer brands the opportunity to create live videos. News channel CNN used a Facebook Live video during the inauguration of President Donald Trump, which gained over 4 million viewers.

 

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