With the nature of my education and career aspirations (becoming an advertising/marketing mogul) it is only natural that I am a prevalent user of social media, online social networks have become the first place of contact for many brands to attract potential customers.
I want to take a quick look at its effect on society, It’s one thing using Social Media but it is another to truly understand its effect on us, both good and bad.
The Narcissists Nightmare
We now spend increasing amounts of time glued to networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest…the list goes on, and this is only going to escalate with younger “millennials” who have been surrounded by gadgets from an increasingly early age.
It has been proven that Twitter can be used as a force for good but you have to wade past the narcissists and their infinite number of self congratulatory selfies, unnecessary pictures of burgers from Almost Famous, or snaps of Nike Air Max trainers that congest the net to find those important people who are using their time on social networks positively.
A Social Revolution
Profound messages can be spread through social media, communities can find their voice and they can be heard, waves can be created by a network of like-minded people with a cause. The rapid evolution of social media in our modern lives is optimized by Arab Spring and Revolution in Egypt. The plight of the people, facing persecution from the countries Government was documented during these times. The younger generation spread the word through social networks, blogs, and the internet as a whole. The world could see with their own eyes the pain and suffering put upon by President Mubarak, online action led to the mobilisation of the masses on the ground and aid assistance swiftly followed.
Online activism provided a platform for this developing country and social media will only continue to do so. Through remote connections we can feel apart of a movement or a revolution, in the past these connections would have taken longer to establish and the plights of millions of people would go unnoticed.
Unfortunately we had our own Riots in August 2011 when high street businesses were looted following the Police Shooting of Mark Duggan in the London Borough of Tottenham. Organised through social media and dubbed the “Blackberry Riots” these hooligans gathered online, proving that these social devices are a mainstream part of society and here to stay. The violence and damage to local businesses was terrible, it would be now futile to deny the importance of social media networks and these events were the consequences of a moment in time when socio-economic problems and technological advances united to great effect. There were many who wanted black outs on the social networking sites but wouldn’t that go against the values of a free country?
Censorship is also an big issue for the world’s leaders, never before has the worldwide community had such a platform to get their voices heard. While mainstream publishers follow political agendas, social users can publish polarising opinions and underground communities can grow, just imagine if Guy Fawkes had twitter! #boom
Is Social Media Any of Your Business?
Businesses take note, through positive networking, web traffic can be increased and so can sales but the opposite is also true. Locally the Manchester Metrolink has embraced twitter but fallen foul to its own mediocrity, If each update is about network wide delays, reconsider your approach.
American Apparel posted an unsavoury tweet during the 2012 storms in the USA, promoting a 20% off Sale incase customers were bored during Hurricane Sandy. Needless to say the response was negative and jumping on other peoples misery and hard look will not do your brand any favours, hire responsible social media managers or train staff with a morale compass.
Going for Social Gold
Social Media has recently been in the news again, The Sochi Winter Olympics have shown the world both sides of the coin. The Hashtag #Sochiproblems has trended throughout the games as Athletes and journalists share the incidents they have occurred in their hotels and Athletes Villages. Without the tweets and images shared of the unfinished hotel rooms provided by Putin’s 60 billion euro games, we would be unaware of the troubles which lie behind the gleaming ice curtain which a “Modern” Russia wants us to see.
Sadly British 1,500m Speed Skater Elise Christie disabled her twitter account after she fell victim to trolls who attacked her for her disqualification during the games.
Gladly there have also been light hearted stories, the lady who took a photograph of her own eye during the Hockey at the Games is comedy genius, a Viral sensation.
The Rise of The Trolls
Be responsible, and if you are going to be a troll and use the hashtag #cunt after after your malicious dig at sport star or cyclist, take a leaf out of Chris Addison’s character in comedy series The Thick of It when broadcasting your pointlessly unhelpful and unsavoury words across the internet.
“I won’t use it until, you know, it’s been fully normalized and has no further association with the… female twat”
Anyone can be a journalist, a photographer and a critic with these instant tools available to us via the internet. Use your energy in a positive manner, be it personally or on behalf of your employer or brand, use it to fight for change, have an intelligent debate or be funny.
You might think Michael Owen isn’t the greatest commentator but you can’t exactly put Keyboard Warrior on your CV, think about that one.
Next time: Some words more specific to Advertising, hit me up with a topic please (if you have read this far, thanks again for doing so)