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Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

May27

#Me – has social media turned us into a self-obsessed nation?

Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate. Photos, gifs, news snippets, videos and statuses dominate our social feeds, encouraging us to interact and share our experiences in a flooded digital arena. We are now more connected than we have ever been and have access to information 24-7, but are social media sites actually making us more withdrawn from people and the real world? We are less interested in others – except when it comes to finding out what people this about us. We love a ‘selfie’ – reinforced by the fact it’s now been added to the Oxford Dictionary; it’s as if being ‘closer’ to other people is making us less social and more ‘me, me, me’!

To be honest, the pure nature of social media seems egocentric to me. Yes we can share useful information, check out what our favourite brands are up to and essentially ‘socialise’ with others. But if you take a moment to scroll through your feed, what will you see? My bet is selfies, food porn and pretty much any single thing your friends or followers are doing or thinking (often sharing waaaaay too much information; we’ve all got one or two of those mates, right?). People go out of their way to document their lives on social. This is prolific in visual platforms like Instagram or Snapchat which have, in my opinion, been created off the back of our desire to habitually share self-orientated information.

Now, taking the occasional “selfie” does not automatically make you a narcissist. It’s completely normal to want to share a new hair cut or exciting trip with your friends. But recent studies have found that users who avidly share self-focussed content are more likely to display some sort of psychological disorder. A recent article from Psychology Today showed that ‘both narcissism and self-objectification were associated with spending more time on social networking sites’.

But I do wonder, have we always been this vain but just never had the means of displaying it publicly? Unsurprisingly, Psychology Today found that narcissism levels have been rising for decades. In general, social media channels encourage self-promotion, as users generate all of the content. But it also boosts self esteem. Can you recall that feeling when someone you admire engages with you on Twitter? I certainly can and it’s great! Sure, there’s nothing wrong with seeking others’ approval – a healthy personal identity depends on paying careful attention to what others think of us.

Let’s not forget that we are encouraged to interact with others content – Facebook lets you like and share; Twitter is more about the Favourite and Retweet – we just choose not to unless it resonates with us. Working with brands like Superdry, we know how important engagement is and so avoid overly sales focussed messaging. Selfies and the like are our own sales messages. We like to self-promote and compete with others. Hmm…doesn’t seem like a new phenomenon to me!

I do think that we have in general day-today life become more self-obsessed. We are trying to become a healthier nation. We know sugar is very, very bad for us. And we love going to the gym (and telling or showing everyone that we are pumping iron). But who do we really have to blame for that? Advertisers? The media? Or ourselves?

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by Kalli Soteriou

May20

Twitter has just launched a handy new tool to help users discover tweets

Although only currently available to Tweeters in America, Twitter has teamed up with Google to bring real-time content to search. As of 6pm yesterday, anyone in the U.S. searching in English will receive relevant Tweets in the results when searching within the Google app (iOS and Android) as well as mobile web surfing. Further developments include a desktop web version and a roll out to other countries in the coming months – please let the UK be next!

Twitter explained the new feature on its blog last night: “If you’re interested in hearing more from Taylor Swift, a quick search on Google will pull up her most recent Tweets. Or, if you’re a TV buff, a search for #MadMen will bring up the most relevant news and Tweets about Sunday’s series finale”.

Any interaction with the content through Google search will take you directly to Twitter where you can view the content and discover further related content.

What a perfect partnership!

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by Kalli Soteriou

Oct01

YouTube vloggers and the current sexual allegations.

You may have heard recently about the online backlash regarding a certain YouTube Vlogger called Sam Pepper. Now following these incidents with Sam Pepper and girls who felt targeted and harassed by him, a whole dark side of the YouTube vlogging community has come to light, we’re going to take a look at what has happened and the implications it might have on the community.

Sam Pepper

Sam Pepper released a video online the other day which he called a prank and saw him tricking women and pinching their bottoms when they were not looking and without consent. This is of course consider by lots of people to be sexual harrassment and many outspoken people including other prominent vloggers pressured Pepper to remove the video. Soon after, the video was removed and Sam put up an apology video claiming the stunt was just a social experiment and that he was trying to draw attention to male sexual harassment issues. He backed this up further with another prank video with the roles reversed.

Laci Green’s petition

After the first video went online another popular vlogger, Laci Green, noticed the video and understood the videos’ inappropriateness, and asked people in a new video to sign a petition against the video and generally Sam Pepper’s treatment of women, along with the prevention of any other prank videos with sexual harassment themes. She also takes a look at other YouTuber’s channels and discusses how they are treating women in an inappropriate way. She asks women and men to speak out and say that these things are not okay.  She also says that you should report videos if they are offensive or treating any people in a demeaning way. She also talks about allegations (which I may note are not yet proven) that girls, including underage girls have been sending letters or releasing videos talking about when they have been sexually harassed or in one extreme case, raped by a prolific male YouTuber.

Backlash and allegations

Since this whole issue was brought to light with the Sam Pepper video many young women and girls have come forward to say that they had been harrassed by either him or other vloggers within the youth YouTube vlogging community. These claims have not been backed up with hard evidence yet, and only one of the women involved has said she intends to press charges against Sam Pepper, though others have reportedly said they are not pressing charges because of backlash they might receive online. One particular vlogger, Dottie Martin said she went to the cinema with Sam on a date and had to repeatedly push his advances away when he kept trying to get more and more sexual. there have also been numerous (again, unconfirmed) claims from women that Pepper had sent them messages asking for inappropriate photographs, one woman said she was 15 at the time he pushed for such photos and she has released screen captures of the conversation.

What it means for the community

This topic has blown up online, and it was around the time that Emma Watson’s speech about feminism and the treatment of women at the UN also went viral online, which suggests that the fact the topic was very much in the public eye has helped push forward the fight against these young male YouTube users who are abusing their position, especially with vulnerable girls online. I think the topic’s widespread reach will help to make sure prank videos are thought about in advance of them being made, and that we’ll see a reduction in the harassment in the making of these videos. At least that’s what should happen, especially if people keep speaking out on this issue, which many have been silent about for too long.

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The backlash has ruined Sam Peppers career, probably forever, many are unsubscribing from his channel, there of course are rumours that he will be arrested or charged with harrasment. His ‘network’ have dropped him in light of the allegations, this is the agent which helps him run his YouTube channel and I assume helps him to get paid. He has also been banned from VidCon which is a big YouTube vlogger meet-up.

There has been so much discussion surrounding this topic since Pepper’s initial upload of his prank video, that it suggest that the community does not want to stand for this type of treatment, whether it be female or male harrassment. They are now confident in speaking out about it being not okay, which suggests that prank videos are more likely to find themselves being reported, if there is a theme which sees people being harassed. It will be in the forefront of people’s minds and they will find themselves noticing these sort of themes in prank videos which they may have not before.

It’s hard to see how any good could have come from this situation, but the fact that men and women are becoming less afraid to speak out if they’ve been abused, as well as the fact that people are now standing up to what they think is wrong, in this case, in videos on YouTube, has got to be a positive move forward.

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by Helen Stirling

Sep25

The rise of online charity and their campaigns.

You may have noticed this year that there has been a huge increase in the amount of money being raised online for charity and that has come from many things. From personal sponsorship to much larger online campaigns which have gone viral. Many of these online campaigns have been hard to ignore, with the majority of the focus being seen on your very own timeline on various social media channels. From seeing ice bucket challenges fill up your Facebook news feed, to seeing countless no make-up selfies on your Instagram home feed.

The majority of the media claims that there is a vain-ness involved with taking part in these online challenges and that is likely true for the most part. But it’s proven from the charities involved that people who are taking part are actually donating, so there is definitely something else at work here too. There is clearly a charitable goodness that is sweeping the online world and it’s interesting to take a look at what has created a sudden surge in the online community’s willingness to give.

The rise in use of online fundraising platforms

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First off we should take a look at the rise of the online fundraising platform. Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been running a long time now, along with other fundraising sites aimed at getting personal projects up and running. Now with most of the campaigns on these sites something is offered in return for your donation which is obviously a large incentive to be giving. Though often the lowest donation option simply offers a message of thanks as the return. These personal stories behind these projects are what seem to get people involved in these projects as well as excitement about the outcome.

You can translate these feelings of having helped to contribute, easily over to charity, which has also seen a huge growth in online fundraising platforms. A couple of years ago the only online charity platform that I’d heard of was justgiving, and now nearly all big charities have their own personal fundraising platform to help raise money. The growth of the internet has really improved the ease of giving to charity.

Before the internet, you likely only gave to charity if you were canvassed on the street or by a coworker, if you saw a charity money box by a till, or if you visited a charity shop/fundraising event. All in-person moments; people were unlikely to phone up to give to charity or reply to the ‘junk’ mail they received about giving to charity. So the thing is, the internet just makes it so much easier to give to charity, a simple click of a button, a few details added and it’s all done. This has got to be another reason why these charity campaigns have taken off. This is the same with text campaigns which have got much more traction recently too, a couple-of-words-long text to a number instantly donates a small amount from you. Instant gratification and something to feel good about for the rest of the day.

No make-up selfie

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The first big charity trend of this year came from the #NoMakeUpSelfie which eventually raised over £2 million for cancer charities, mostly in the UK. The trend began after an actress, Kim Novak, went make-up-less to the Oscars in March of this year. The trend began from there and the charity element was quickly added it. There is quite obviously an appeal of attention involved in this trend, where people were excited to show how nice they looked without make-up on Social Media for all to see and comment on. Though there was this element, it was interesting to watch the campaign evolve, especially when people began sharing screenshots of the texts that said they had donated alongside their selfies. After a day or so, Cancer Research themselves got involved with the campaign and encouraged and thanked everyone for their participation.

Ice bucket challenge

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The Ice Bucket challenge rose to fame in July/August of this year and featured people videoing themselves having a bucket of ice water poured over their heads, and then promoting awareness for ALS, a motor neurone disease. This trend began in America, and originally the offer was to donate to the charity or have the ice water poured on you, but the two quickly got merged together and people were simply pouring cold water over their heads to donate to charity. Which seems a little strange, but again maybe that sense of showing off, or perhaps feeling involved overtook the feeling of sense. (Only slightly ribbing, don’t worry!)

People that got involved nominated other friends to take part at the end of their own videos which is how the trend spread so far and wide. It also got widespread attention when pretty much the whole of Hollywood got involved and some others started putting their own spin on things in the attempt to, I assume, have the most famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge online. This huge trend raised an exceptional amount of money for charity and saw the true pinnacle of what the internet can do for charity. All we need now is other charities to capitalise on this sort of thing and attempt their own trends to help raise funds.

So what we’ve learnt from this year and it’s charity trends is that it will be popular if there is an element of ‘showing-off’ involved with the self- gratification feeling you get when you donate to charity. The new technology and ease of donating has made it easier for people to donate, especially those who may not have bothered before. I know personally I have found myself donating to at least 5 sponsorship forms online for friends this year, though I haven’t got involved with the year’s viral charity movement, I can see how they are new and exciting development for charities and definitely something to grasp onto for the future. Essentially charities will just have to tap into what people already like to do on their Facebook page (show off), and piggyback onto that with their good cause. It sounds un-charitable when you put it like that, but the charities are getting huge numbers of donations by playing on people’s need to be seen online, so why knock it – if it’s for a good cause.

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by Helen Stirling

Aug27

Insight: Facebook competitions, the what, why, where, when and how?

Logout, The hardest button to Click!

Facebook competitions are like Peter Andre’s mysterious girl, we know what they are but yet we know so little about them, and what are the rules? Can you do this or that? Most people never really seem sure.

There has long been a call for clearer guidelines on Facebook competitions, and many people wanting to run their own competitions have been confused as to what was actually breaking the rules. As well all know it’s  important not to break the rules on Facebook as they can deactivate and remove a business page without warning if it breaches the terms and conditions set out online.

The basics are outlined in their promotions terms and conditions. The official guidelines require that you are responsible for the lawful operation of the promotion, and that it is made clear that the promotion has no link to or is endorsed by Facebook or it’s affiliates.

You can see all the rules that are laid out here:

“1. If you use Facebook to communicate or administer a promotion (ex: a contest or sweepstakes), you are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including:

a.   The official rules;
b.   Offer terms and eligibility requirements (ex: age and residency restrictions); and
c.   Compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered (ex: registration and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals)
2. Promotions on Facebook must include the following:
a.   A complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant.
b.   Acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).
4. We will not assist you in the administration of your promotion, and you agree that if you use our service to administer your promotion, you do so at your own risk.”

So what these rules mean in simple terms, you are completely responsible for the running of your competition, you cannot get Facebook involved in any issues you may have. It’s all your fault. Fair enough I would say. It also means that you have to set all the rules to your competition and enforce them all yourself, for example setting and keeping age guidelines. You must acknowledge that the promotion is in no way associated with Facebook by way of a disclaimer. You can only hold a competition through a page or an app, you cannot use your personal profile to do this.

There is recent news now that Facebook is banning ‘Like-gating’ which means that pages will no longer be allowed to make a user to like their page to enter a competition. The change to their terms is an attempt to reduce the amount of spam-my Likes on brand pages, and to make information clearer for users.

Facebook-Crosses-Privacy-Lines

This is likely to be a popular move for people who like entering competitions, as before now their Facebook profiles would have been full of pages they’ve liked to enter these competitions; most people don’t unlike the page after they’ve entered, which is what the page is counting on. It will also improve things for page  managers, in that, though there may be less likes, it will give a greater insight into the page’s activity, and will improve the reliability of reports. The change will also mean a cut down on spam profiles which were set up just to like pages and enter pages competitions.
So overall, it’s actually pretty easy to set up a competition on the social media giant. There aren’t really any specific rules regarding the type of competition you hold, obviously as long as it is not offensive. All you have to do is keep Facebook out of it and run it all yourself. Not as constricted as you thought, then really. So go forth and run that competition, look for the right audience for your promotion, and you’ll have a successful competition on your hands which will promote your brand to a greater crowd.

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by Helen Stirling

Jul18

Insight: Taking advantage of video for Social Campaigns and Businesses

charlie bit me

There’s no denying that online media is becoming more and more visual, text pieces are losing their oomph as images and video take over. It’s been revealed that YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine after Google, and that definitely says something about the visual shift. Not only is YouTube the second biggest search engine, but it’s also bigger than Bing, AOL, Ask and Yahoo combined, and has over 1 billion unique monthly visitors.

This is definitely a sign that your company should be working on getting video to be an important part of your online campaign. If the amount of time and investment in video is off-putting to you then there are other options with short form video on sites such as Vine and Instagram. These sites are especially useful for igniting your creativity in ways to advertise your business in quick engaging bursts. People these days have shorter attention spans so it’s more likely they’ll watch a 6 second looping Vine rather than a 5 minute video explaining your business. Unless of course you get Ryan Gosling to do it.

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Obviously there are limitations of using sites like Vine and Instagram, first off there’s that time limit, whilst useful for being creative, can be very limiting when trying to convey a longer point. Also, though these videos can be embedded they always seem like a much more ‘casual’ poption which may not be the impression you want to give off as a business, in which case another hosting site like YouTube, Vimeo or Vzaar might be more suited.

Plus going back to what we were saying initially, YouTube as a search engine could be extremely beneficial to your business and your videos. Having all your videos hosted on YouTube give them a greater chance of exposure, with the site having a higher exposure than any cable TV station in the US as well as a whopping 6 billion hours of video being watched on the site every month. The way videos are ranked on YouTube is a secret algorithm, but there are obvious factors taken in to account. These are the number of views (this seems to be a big factor), the title of the video, the video’s description and the video’s ratings. So the more relevant you can make the title and description the higher it will rank, also make sure not to ignore the tagging section on YouTube as this also helps the site know where to put the video.

Seeding your video will also be an important step in getting your video seen as well as pushing it up YouTube’s search rankings, which in turn will help it be seen by more people. You can start this off by sharing your video among different Social Network sites, making sure to post with relevant hashtags to potentially reach a wider audience than just your own followers.

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The rise of visual media online has also affected the way that other Social Networks rank their stories too, again showing how important videos and images are if you want to be seen. Facebook has changed their algorithm more recently, making pictures more important in a news feed and ranking them higher, this is also true of video content on the site, there is definitely a bigger focus on the visual as opposed to before when there was an even mix of text and visual content. The focus on video for Facebook has been proven even more recently, where they’ve been seen testing video enhancements on the site, such as suggesting similar videos after you finish watching one on the site. This is obviously a copycat of YouTube’s suggested videos feature, but again cementing the demand for more video content.

Video can be a very tricky medium to get right, it’s important to make sure that you won’t be wasting money and commitment on a video which does nothing for the brand you’re trying to promote. It can be more important to spend time on relevant content than to create a bad video just because you feel you need a video. Planning a video and thinking over a few different ideas is the best way to make sure you get what you definitely want, as well as something successful. Whilst many people think that jumping on to an online trend is a great way to be seen and rank, if it’s not well timed or relevant it can end up drowning among all the similar content which are trying to do the same thing.

If you have a quick thinking team with quick turnarounds then it’s possible, but not highly advisable. It’s probably better to focus on being original and creating your own trend.

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by Helen Stirling

Jul11

Insight: Are Buzzfeed and click-bait articles losing their appeal?

So, don’t get me wrong, I love Buzzfeed, it’s perfect to wile away the hours whilst not having to think very hard about anything.

There’s no denying though that Buzzfeed’s popularity has led to a huge surge in click-bait articles. Which in turn has led to the net being inundated with articles of little substance. The numbered lists are everywhere and the titles such as, “16 Peaceful Pictures Of Exhausted Shoppers Fast Asleep In Ikea” or “18 Shirts Every Guy Should Buy If You Want To Be Single Forever” are enticing but pointless. The sheer amount of content on Buzzfeed means that some of their newer articles really show how hard it is for them to come up with original content. See: “23 GIFs Of Me Desperately Clinging To Any Idea I Can Think Of”.

The Onion recently put everyone’s surfacing annoyance with these articles into reality, in a hilarious spoof website called Clickhole. Clickhole features articles such as “9 Snacks You Should Try Right Now, But Only If You’re Planning On Having A Late Dinner” and “7 Photos Of People Wearing Full Scuba Gear You Have No Way Of Proving Aren’t Sandra Bullock”. I think that the creation of this site proves that people are realising more and more how pointless these numbered lists they’re reading daily are. 

Buzzfeed is going from strength to strength, but surely there will be a cut-off point soon, the site’s popularity will plateau and they will go into the sort of panic mode which Twitter are currently in. Twitter has seen itself undergoing some drastic changes in recent months and this is likely due to the site’s growth slowing down. Changes to the Twitter profile and the rumoured changes to how you interact on the site are an attempt to entice new users by making the site easier to use and more accessible. It’s possible that if Buzzfeed find themselves in a similar position they’ll attempt a tonal shift, or a new focus. I think this is already beginning to be addressed with the introduction of their long form pieces, though much of the emphasis they initially put on these articles has been slowed.

The problem that Buzzfeed is having is with original content, or lack of. The fact that their content is so lightweight and ‘disposable’ means that their longevity is dubious, and it not only affects what users are thinking of the site, but it affects the value of the site as well. Buzzfeed was recently rumoured to be worth $1 Billion, but this figure was called in to question when the site’s originality was considered. The fact that the site, like other news sites, deals in the reactive stories (as well as other lightweight articles) means that there is little value in their archive of articles, and the lack of original content suggests that the site is not worth quite that much.

It feels as if there is a shift happening, where people are looking for more long form content, and dare I say it, articles that are actually about something. How long can people really be satisfied with lists and lists of GIFs, or quiz content? Yes, the aspect of sharing results or relatable articles with your friends on social media can be satisfying, but won’t there come a point where we’ve seen it all and your friends will no longer react to such content on their timelines. How often do you click on a ’10 things women do that men don’t’ article that your friend shared in comparison to how much you clicked on them say 6 months to a year ago?

Looking at click-bait in wider terms, it’s meteoric rise is mostly due to the modern lifestyle becoming more and more hectic, and not having the time to sit down and read a long form article. The titles with countdowns, so ’10 reasons’, ’21 tips’ give readers an idea of how long their attention will be need, it’s more of a definite, making them more likely to read it. Obviously trends are known for coming in and out and things are constantly changing, and I think we are at the point again where people want something more than 20 ‘Mean Girls’ GIFs in an article with a 10 word explanation. The disposable content is on it’s way to being fully disposed of and people are beginning to search for something new.

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by Helen Stirling