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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Is looking for love now more rewarding than finding it ?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

We all know that social media can be addicting. Most social media users love the little burst of excitement experienced when they receive notification alerts. Subconsciously, notifications serve as validation. No one likes sharing a funny video or cute photo on social media and receiving no feedback or interactions. Ford’s 2014 consumer survey reports that 62 percent of adults felt better about themselves after getting positive reactions to what they shared on social media.

But it’s more than a positive feeling. Science has actually proven that social media is addicting. When people receive notifications their brains release dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for reward and pleasure and also associated with addiction. And not only is social media itself potentially addictive, those who use it may also be at greater risk for impulse-control issues like substance abuse, according to The Huffington Post.

It’s hard to believe that all of this excitement, validation, and potential for addiction are brought about by simple Facebook notifications. Someone in the community is simply saying, “That video of your dog is funny,” or “I like your pretty picture of the beach!” Now just imagine how much more addicting and validating it must be when someone says, “I like YOU and find you attractive enough to go out on a date, or ‘hook up’ with you.”

The social media app Tinder is specifically designed to facilitate those types of interactions. People review photos along with a very small amount of information about a nearby person and then either ‘swipe right’ to say, “Let’s meet up, I’m romantically interested in you,” or ‘swipe left’ to say they’re not interested. If people experience an addictive dose of dopamine from a Facebook photo ‘like’ how addicting is the experience of someone looking at their photos and ‘swiping right’?

Could Tinder, or any dating apps like it, really foster or even allow for the development of an actual relationship? Let’s say someone ‘swipes right’ and meets their ‘soul mate’ or a highly compatible partner. Would they recognize it? Would they delete the app and pursue a health relationship, or would they be too addicted to the ‘high’ experienced when the next person ‘swipes right’ to meet them? Considering that 42 percent of Tinder users aren’t even single, it’s likely the latter. Sure there are always exceptions, but overall it seems that if someone is looking for love on apps like Tinder, they’re looking in all the wrong places.

The Selfie Paradox

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Nearly from the dawn of social media and digital cameras, the phenomenon of the ‘selfie’ was born. It’s become so popular that the word ‘selfie’ was Oxford Dictionary’s international Word of the Year in 2013. According to Google, 93 million selfies are taken per day and females aged 16 to 25 spend five hours per week taking selfies – are we a bunch of egomaniacs, or what ?

With the booming popularity of selfies, it’s safe to assume that people love seeing them; similar to the way they love YouTube cat videos and hilarious memes, right? But no… A recent study by Ludwig-Maximilians-University found that 82% of respondents said they would like to see fewer selfies and more of other kinds of photos on social media. Interestingly, 50% of those same respondents admitted to taking and posting selfies themselves.

Why the paradoxical results? According to researchers, these discrepancies suggest that selfies fulfill some basic psychological needs in terms of self-representation and self-image. To justify this need, people have created a selfie-bias; convincing themselves that their own selfies are authentic, genuine and at the same time ‘self-ironic’ with little emotional commitment. Conversely, they view other people’s selfies as fake, narcissistic, manipulative and annoying. For example, 90% of respondents said other people’s selfies were crafted to project a specific image and 40% of respondents perceived self-irony in their own selfies, compared to just 13% for other people’s selfies.

But how can so many people be habitually participating in a behavior they essentially see as ridiculous? Researchers say it’s a classic case of ‘cognitive dissonance’ — but to the average Joe, it sounds downright irrational, incoherent and batty.

Why would anyone rationalize that their selfies are somehow more favorable or enjoyable than the other 93 million taken on any given day? Do they really think they’re that special? It’s time to accept that everyone’s selfies are regrettable and no one likes seeing them (except of course for the person taking the selfie). Let’s stop the selfie madness and spend all of that extra time doing something productive, like capturing more adorable cat videos.

Social media during disasters: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets have forever altered the way the world communicates and reacts during emergencies and disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist attacks, like the 2016 Paris attacks. While some use these social media tools for good, others choose to spread ignorance and inaccuracies that could put lives at risk.

The people who choose to use social media for good during disasters can literally restore a person’s faith in humanity. During the Paris attacks, people tweeted out messages that opened their homes to complete strangers to keep them safe. Before Hurricane Sandy, former NWS meteorologist, Gary Szatkowski, gave out his home phone number, pleading with people to evacuate the New Jersey Shore. Experts prioritize sharing real-time information that saves lives. People on the scene use Facebook’s Safety Check to calm family and friends. Overall, thousands of people share messages of hope, encouragement, love, and assistance that create a sense of community and help create the best possible outcome.

But as we know, every rose has its thorns and every village has its idiots. The first type of idiot is the person who refuses to heed expert advice, putting their lives and emergency personnel lives at risk. To make matters worse, they broadcast this decision on social media, posting videos of deadly storms, ignoring mandatory evacuations, and encouraging others to join them. Let’s take the always-inspiring rapper, Vanilla Ice, for example. During the recent 2016 Hurricane Matthew, he publicly shared his decision not to evacuate and live-tweeted during the storm to his 280K followers. Luckily, the storm spared his life by unexpectedly shifting East, but his arrogance and poor decision could have endangered the lives of his family, the Twitter followers he influenced, and the emergency personnel who may have been forced to rescue him.

The only thing worse than those who blatantly ignore expert advice is people who position themselves as experts or influencers and share misinformation. During the devastating 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, social media created a storm of confusion as sources shot off unconfirmed information about suspects and arrests, causing community-wide confusion about public safety. This was also seen during Hurricane Matthew when Matt Drudge of the Drudge report tweeted out comments implying that the government was just hyping up the deadly storm to make a point about climate change. These tweets directly contradicted and undermined weather authorities’ pleas for people to take the storm seriously and were viewed by some as unjustified and insensitive, given the immense number of lives lost to the storm in Haiti just hours prior.

Perhaps the stupidity exhibited is just nature’s way of continuing to evolve our species in a world filled with warning labels and copious amounts of information. In other words, we’re seeing natural selection play out on a public platform when people choose to go outside and film a deadly hurricane or follow the advice of a rapper over a meteorologist – another win for Darwin’s theory!

Unfortunately, all of the good being spread on social media during disasters cannot eliminate the bad and the ugly. It’s up to each individual to share the good while digesting information from others with a scrupulous eye to make the best possible decision during an emergency.

Is the history of social media repeating itself ?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

They say history repeats itself, but that’s not a phrase that is typically associated with technology. But with the rapid growth of Snapchat and social messenger apps, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Before the rise of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, back when we still had to wait for a dial-up Internet connection, the trendy form of online communication for young generations was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Kids would sit online for hours a day having one-on-one conversations via instant messages with friends. AIM became the new, electronic version of the “note” passed in class. However, with the creation of Facebook, MySpace and other social media channels, AIM quickly became a thing of the past. Younger generations began sharing their information and communicating with each other via these new, public, social media forums.

At first, Facebook was just a place for college kids to share updates with friends (users even needed a college email to create a Facebook account) and only young, like-minded people used the latest social media craze, Twitter. These social sites became the new way to pass an old-school handwritten “note” during class, because no “teachers” were looking. But as the popularity of these social media platforms grew, so did the number and diversity of users. Suddenly, the average age of Facebook users began to trend upward and the parents and grandparents of those college kids started to join in. Immature language, incriminating photos and silly banter among friends became much more visible. Concerns about privacy, the effects of social media on job searchers, and the separation of personal and professional online personas became the forefront of conversations.

For a few years, it was simply accepted that anything put online would inevitably become public information that could be used against an employee, a daughter, or a job candidate. Younger generations began to wise up and limit their participation on the traditional social media sites. Why would they want to post photos from a party on Facebook for their parents, grandparents and college admission departments to see?

Then voila! Snapchat and social messenger apps emerged. Like most new technology, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter definitely have their niche. They’re still relevant and play an important role in the online social experience with much of the young generations still engaging to keep in touch with family and long-distance friends, as well as share PC, college approved photos and updates. But by growing up in a world filled with technology, they’ve grown wiser than the college students before them. To chat with close friends on a regular basis and share private, sometimes immature shenanigans, they use private forums like Snapchat and social messenger apps. Although these apps certainly have a few more bells and whistles than the old-school AIM, are they really much different? Or, have we spent more than a decade developing social media, only to end up right back where we started?

Does your brand .suck?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

The Internet can be both an asset and detriment for brands. It allows anyone to voice his or her opinion, whether it’s valid or not. It’s a powerful forum that gives a voice to both the pleasant customers who are always gracious and understanding, and the crabby customers who are never satisfied – we all know the type.

Today, even more power has been given to both consumers or other brands now that anyone can buy a “.sucks” domain name. Anyone can put the “.sucks” extension on the end of any known brand, such as apple.sucks, and create a site about how much they hate the brand. While this is a forum for people to air their displeasures, and some certainly are deserved, this means any crackpot can potentially create ruin for brands or companies. For example, a disgruntled employee who doesn’t think they should’ve been fired, even though they were definitely in the wrong. Or, an unreasonable customer who is not interested in productive problem solving, often because they did not review the company’s policies before making a purchase, and feel that an exception should be made for them, etc.

The question is, how should brands react to this newfound consumer power? Should brands be pre-emptive and buy up all associated .sucks domains and create their own content and redirects to avoid some of the trouble this should cause? Or, could these sites be contributive to brands, potentially helping improve products or services? Could they be used for the greater good, to alert people to major social issues that need attention?

According to Direct Marketing News, transparency and authenticity in social media, and every other part of business, is a must to build customer trust. A brand cannot control its customer’s online activity, and it should not want to. Honest opinions can help a brand troubleshoot and thrive. So, instead of focusing on controlling the problem, brands should focus on embracing criticism and managing it.

Is it fair that any fool can jump online and spread rubbish about any brand? Of course not. But it’s today’s reality. Instead of spinning wheels trying to get ahead of each new platform, such as .sucks domains, brands should focus on building good products and services that keep the masses from succumbing to the opinions of the disgruntled and unreasonable few. By utilizing constructive criticism shared online and embracing transparency and authenticity, brands can minimize the effects of tools like .sucks domains and prosper in today’s connected world.