COM0015 – Blog #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

In this day and age social media is a very important tool for organizations of all types. Some are doing it well and others are not. One organization that I believe has always had a strong social media strategy is Starbucks. They have had an impressive social media presence for years, some of their most memorable are Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Unicorn Frappuccino, Red Cup Art, Starbucks Stories: To Be Human, Upstanders and Extra Shot of Pride (Gilliland, 2020). Starbucks have taken a social justice approach to some of their social media campaigns and in turn have raised a lot of money for organizations such as ‘Born This Way Foundation’, an organization who support mental health initiatives for transgendered and LGBTQ+ communities with their #Extrashotofpride campaign (Gilliland, 2020). They have also donated over $500 000 in grants to small non-profits with their ‘Upstanders campaign’ (Gilliland, 2020). It is important to be honest and genuine when creating cause-related social media campaigns and Starbucks has done this successfully by raising money for organizations who directly support each cause.

            Starbucks’ most recent social justice campaign is the ‘What’s Your Name’ campaign. A campaign that addresses the issue of birth name for many transgendered people (Markairn, 2020). This campaign highlights the stigma surrounding birth name, that transgendered people often face as they transition and the importance of a name in one’s identity (Markairn, 2020). Starbucks has a tradition of writing people’s names on takeout cups in their establishments and this was used as a way of supporting people who have changed their names to better suit their true identities (Markairn, 2020). Starbucks genuinely supports the LGBTQ+ community and have showed their support in this campaign as well by partnering with Mermaids, a charity that ‘supports young transgender and gender diverse groups’ (Markairn, 2020, para 15), and raising over $100 000 for them in a short time (Markairn, 2020). They did so by selling Mermaid cookies and user generated content to get the word out with the hashtag #what’syourname (Cyca, 2020). Here is the original video from the ‘What’s My Name?’ campaign:

Video Source

            Another organization that has a strong social media strategy is GoPro. They have successfully harnessed user generated content in a new and extreme fashion (Kannenberg, 2020). GoPro are a camera company who’s target market are people who love extreme sports and adventure, and the GoPro is the perfect camera to capture this, whether you are a surfer, snowboarder, hiker or some other sport enthusiast (Ideagoras, n.d.). What sets the GoPro apart from other cameras is its ability to be worn on the body, this allows the viewer to get a true sense of the experience and doesn’t require a second person to film (Ideagoras, n.d.). The GoPro easily uploads the footage directly to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (Ideagoras, n.d.). People then share their extreme videos with the hashtag #GoPro and the perfect user generated content strategy is created, encouraging others to buy the camera and capture their own adventure (Ideagoras, n.d.). User generated content is a brilliant social media strategy for a product such as this because it is not only genuine, but it is also basically free (Ideagoras, n.d.). The GoPro user becomes a brand ambassador, especially with YouTube, and this has helped them to grow their social media following and thus increase their revenue (Krows Team, 2020). This form of social media strategy has been very successful because it creates a strong bond with the brand and encourages people to share their experiences which establishes a deeper connection with the company and creates a sense of community and loyalty (Krows Team, 2020). 

Here is an example of a YouTube video filmed on a GoPro:

Video Source

            Most large companies have invested quite heavily in social media by this point in time, it seems that it’s some smaller, less corporate businesses that lack social media strategies. However, social media has become so incredibly ubiquitous that it was quite difficult to find even a local company that completely lacks a social media presence, but I did find one. The convenience store near my house, Domestic Foods on Gladstone Avenue has obviously thought about the importance of social media because they have a Facebook Page and an Instagram account, but they have yet to post anything on their Instagram despite having over 1400 followers (Domestic Foods, n.d.), and they only have two check-ins on their Facebook page and only one post (Domestic Foods, n.d.). This is a well-known independent convenience and grocery store in an area of Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood that could be considered a food dessert, especially for those who lack transportation, as the closest real grocery store is a fifteen minute walk from Domestic Foods. This is a great opportunity for Domestic Foods to create a social media strategy as the stop gap between grocery shopping trips for people who live nearby. Their objectives should be to increase awareness about what they offer, when they are open and who they are as a family run business. They could benefit by posting about new products and potentially introduce fresh produce and use social media to gain awareness about it. Instagram stories would be a good tool to start with because they have some many followers already and stories published by businesses get more views than personal accounts (Ganta, 2020). Instagram Stories are also great for improving brand visibility and getting feedback on new products and staying top of mind (Ganta, 2020). Centretown residents are mostly millennials and generations Z and are therefore social media savvy and because of this, a social media presence would greatly benefit Domestic Foods. They should begin their foray into social media by posting stories on their Instagram page about their staff who have been the same people for the fifteen years I have been going there as well as the products they sell, the hours they keep and the services they provide. 

Image Source

Resources

Cyca, M. (August, 2020)  ‘Social Media Campaigns (And What You Can Learn From Them)’

Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-campaign-strategy/

Facebook, (n.d.) ‘Domestic Foods’ Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pages/Domestic%20Foods/113541919038390/

Instagram (n.d.), ‘Domestic Foods’ Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/domesticfoods/

Ganta, M (November 2020), ‘10 Reasons Why Businesses Are Using Instagram Stories’

Retrieved from https://www.socialinsider.io/blog/why-brands-are-using-instagram-stories/

Gilliland, N. (January 2020), ‘Eight awesome social campaigns from Starbucks’ Retrieved from

Ideagoras, (n.d.), ‘GoPro – Building a Social Brand Using Consumer Generated Content’

Retrieved from https://ideagoras.biz/gopro-building-a-social-brand-using-consume-generated-content/

Kannenberg, L. (October 2019), ‘Social Spotlight: How GoPro fuels brand loyalty with UGC’

Retrieved from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-spotlight-gopro/

Krows Team (May 2020), ‘GoPro Marketing Strategy – Let Your Audience Expresses Itself! – Marketing Case Study #7’ Retrieved from https://krows-digital.com/go-pro-marketing-strategy-case-study-7/

Markairn, (January 2020), ‘Here’s How Starbucks Recognized LGBTQ+ Customers: The ‘What’s Your Name?’ Campaign’ Retrieved from https://bettermarketing.pub/heres-how-starbucks-recognized-lgbtq-customers-the-what-s-your-name-campaign-8bdf8008c346

COM0015 – Blog #1 – Tools and Sources

COM0015 – Blog #1 – Tools and Sources

Social media has changed the way that we get our news and find out about goings on in the circles that we keep. Social media changes very rapidly and we tend to evolve with it. My primary news source from last year is different from the year before and will probably be different next year or the year after that. For now, I would say that I gather most of my news and updates from Instagram, and sometimes Facebook via two different sources: Narcity and CBC. Narcity is a Canadian media corporation who are ‘Canada’s leading publisher for millennials’, (Narcity Media, 2020) and they have over 20 Million daily readers (Narcity Media, 2020). They are members of the National NewsMedia Council which is the body that oversees ethics in Canadian media. This organization is both voluntary and self-regulating and this bodes well for Narcity’s journalism credibility (Narcity Media, 2020). They post local articles about Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. I work in a live music venue that is also a restaurant and Narcity has been a very useful source of information over the pandemic. The province of Ontario has changed regulations for the restaurant industry many times over the las year and a half and Narcity has often been the first to publish updates on various zones and steps. They have also been a great source of information for pandemic trends for restaurants and live music venues, whether the topic was plexiglass barriers, live streams or takeout and delivery trends. Here is an example of Narcity’s style in their 2020 Year in Review featuring viewer submissions.

Narcity Year in Review Video Source

            The CBC may be one of Canada’s oldest traditional media outlets, but it has kept up with changing trends better than most of its competitors. The CBC are very present on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, I often follow the link in bio on Instagram or a link on the other platforms to read articles on their app rather than looking at their app directly, as I used to. It is one of my favorite sources because I feel that it is the most trusted news source in Canada. The CBC is a very useful news source to me because it is national as well as local and CBC has always had a strong focus on the Arts. This is relevant for me in my line of work because they post articles about music and the Arts industry all over the country and at home and CBC Ottawa often promotes our events too. This is extremely beneficial to us because the CBC has such a wide reach and strong reputation. This is a great example of how one evolves with changing technology, from radio and television, to the website, to the mobile app and now through social media, CBC has always been my #1 source, only the delivery system has changed.

I was introduced to Brand24 in COM0013 during the process of monitoring and measuring a real company’s social media. Brand24 is great, it gives a very in depth analysis of a company’s digital landscape and I found that it picked up more mentions than did Google Alerts. Brand24 monitors social media and traditional media for mentions of the brand’s name (Brand24, n.d.). Google Alerts was useful as well because one can set alerts for multiple keywords associated with the company which allows one to cast a wider net. 

All in all, I found that Google Alerts wasn’t able to pick up as many mentions from traditional media sources as Brand24 was, and thus it made for a much better monitoring tool.

SimilarWeb was very useful for monitoring websites. This is important for social media because it allows one to see how people arrive at the company’s website and highlights the keywords that are most used for that company (SimilarWeb, n.d.). Knowing where website traffic originates from is very useful because it can help the company decide where to focus their efforts and their budget. 

What are your favorite monitoring tools?

Resources

Cision, (April 2020), ‘Narcity Media Joins the National NewsMedia Council & Announces Record-Breaking 2020’ Retrieved from https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/narcity-media-joins-the-national-newsmedia-council-amp-announces-record-breaking-2020-858179313.html

SimilarWeb (n.d.), ‘tentree.ca’ Retrieved from https://www.similarweb.com/website/tentree.ca/#social

Brand24, (n.d.), ‘Brand24’ Retrieved from https://brand24.com

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

Storytelling is essential for the creation of great digital content because people want to be able to relate, either to a personal or corporate brand. Great content has to be authentic and one can only accomplish this by telling the unique story of one’s life, their company or organization and the people who work there. This is great way to communicate with one’s audience because it allows one to discuss their values, desires, hopes and dreams in an indirect way and people like to see their own values reflected in that of the content that they follow, like and engage with. These elements become part of the woven fabric that is one’s brand and it’s important that this lines up with the content that one shares on social media. By telling a story through content people feel more connected, they feel like they are a part of the journey and that creates a sense of belonging and thus a stronger trust and bond.

            Content is guided by story when it comes naturally. Content can be planned but should also reflect what is actually happening in the organization such as an event, partnership, renovation, move or new product, or simply a visit from a cute pet. People like to be included they like to be on the secret because it helps to create a relationship. It also creates a buzz and that is important for social media engagement, because it’s the wheel that sets things in motion toward the ultimate goal.

Photo Credit: Aislinn Calvert

            As the Social Media Manager for a small live music venue, I want to tell the story of who we are as an organization as well as the people who work and patronize our business. I want to tell the story of the community that surrounds our establishment. I want to tell people about the musicians and the artists who grace our stage and our walls and the local products that we sell. Over the last year and a half, it has become more and more important to support local companies as often as possible because that is how we can ensure that our communities thrives, especially in times of hardship. 

COM0014 – Blog #6 – Do People Know Your Story?

COM0014 – Blog #6 – Do People Know Your Story?

In the article written by John Jantsch he asks many questions in relation to whether people know your story or the story of one’s business. The one that stood out to me was: What’s your favorite customer story? So, I will tell you the tale. It isn’t a story about great customer service, raving reviews or good deeds. It is a strange story that reflects the peculiar nature of our particular establishment and the odd things that sometimes occur without explanation.

I work in a live music venue that is a pub and restaurant as well. We have been open for 36 years and we have had generations of regulars through the doors, we host weddings and funerals, and we are often the first restaurant that people bring their newborn babies too. 

In 2007, the original owner had put the business up for sale and was entertaining several offers. Pubs with a lot of regulars often have a very active rumour mill, people love to gossip, and this was a massive event in the lives of these people and in the life of the establishment. There were three potential new owners, a bartender whom we knew from another spot in town, a former regular that nobody liked and an unknown engineer who lived in the neighbourhood. The rumours were flying, and everyone was speculating about what the fate of the pub would be. The official date was coming up quickly and suffice it to say it was a tense time. 

One afternoon during this time one of our regulars was paying her bill with her credit card after a few beverages and wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the process, she put in a tip and passed it back to my colleague and it was approved. When the receipt printed the total amount was just over $275 000.00. We were shocked, to say the least, and so was the woman whose credit card with a limit of $1000 had been approved for over a quarter million dollars. We phoned the debit machine provider as well as the bank to try to get an explanation for what had happened, and they were just as baffled as we were. Things were resolved in the sense that the money was not deposited in our account, nor was our regular on the hook for such a large sum. However, an explanation was never given because the company couldn’t figure out what had happened.

A week later the pub was finally sold and strangely, for exactly the same amount. And, so the joke goes, that it was she who had really bought the bar.

Resources

Jantsch, J. (n.d.), ‘Do People Know Your Story?’ Retrieved from https://ducttapemarketing.com/do-people-know-your-story/

Blog #5 – COM0014 – Personal Brand

Blog #5 – COM0014 – Personal Brand

One’s personal brand can be hard to define. It requires a lot of introspection which can be difficult for some people, myself included. I have worked in the hospitality industry for over twenty years and that has shaped my personality and thus my personal brand. Long hours and hard physical work has most definitely contribute to the person I have become. For the last fourteen years I have worked in a local live music venue where I am a Bartender, Social Media Manager and the Event Coordinator. I work with the public and because of that I have well developed communication skills and I am good with people. However, spending a lot of time surrounded by people can be taxing and sometimes, I am very happy to be alone doing yoga, cycling or reading a good book. 

Image Source: Selfie

            I am a huge supporter of live music and the Arts in Ottawa and I feel that that is important to my personal brand because it is the motivation for the work that I do, and I am proud of that. I am driven, trustworthy, fair and honest, creative, yet strong willed and perhaps a little too stubborn at times, I am a Taurus after all. I do like to have fun and that’s why organizing events is something I truly enjoy doing. It gives me great pleasure to create an environment where people are happy, safe and thoroughly enjoying themselves. I live for the nights where the band and the patrons are in sync and the love can be felt in the room. I believe that this is something that others would say is one of my best traits, I am a true host. 

            The last year and a half has been difficult because the live music industry has basically been put on hold and because of that I have had to re-evaluate my place in life. This was very hard for me, but I think that I have grown a lot as a person during this time. I returned to School in September of 2020 at the age of 39 and have since completed the Marketing Management Graduate Certificate program through Algonquin and I graduate with honours this coming Wednesday. This is something that I feel makes me stand out because I have developed a new set of skills and I have a renewed sense of confidence. This experience has allowed me to see that I am capable of accomplishing anything I put my mind to. I am sincerely looking forward to the day when we can begin to have live music again I can again create an atmosphere where people can have fun and enjoy the talented folks in the music industry in Ottawa.

COM0014 – Blog #4 – B2C Case Study – Chipotle and TikTok

COM0014 – Blog #4 – B2C Case Study – Chipotle and TikTok

Social media is everchanging. There are always new platforms on the rise, most notably TikTok, for now. TikTok is a short video streaming social media platform that is quickly becoming very popular, especially with the up and coming Generation Z cohort, who make up a large part of the Chipotle target market (Kelso, 2019). TikTok was launched in 2016 and now have 689 million users worldwide and they are gaining momentum faster than Facebook or Instagram initially did (Moshin, 2021). As a business it is important to keep up with emerging trends, especially online, and that is exactly what Chipotle has done. 

            Chipotle Mexican Grill is an American fast casual restaurant that was able to use their social media listening skills to discover that although they were not active on TikTok, they were trending (Pittman, 2020).

An Instagram video posted by an employee, Daniel Vasquez, flipping a lid on a burrito bowl was the beginning of the TikTok journey for the popular restaurant (Kelso, 2019). TikTok challenges are essential to the platform and Chipotle seized on the opportunity to participate themselves (Chipotle Fans, 2020). The #Chipotlelidflip challenge was marketing genius (Pittman, 2020). It was a campaign for free delivery for online orders for Cinco de Mayo and resulted in 110 000 video submissions and unprecedented online sales (Chipotle fans, 2020). 

National Avocado Day was Chipotle’s second official foray into the land of TikTok challenges. They began with a dance challenge to a children’s song by Dr. Jean about Avocados known colloquially as the Guacamole Song and the #GuacDance took off with 250 000 video submissions (Pittman, 2020). Another success resulting in a 68% rise in guacamole sales for Avocado day (Kelso, 2019).

Chipotle’s decision to embark on the TikTok adventure was excellent and successful and it is definitely working for them and they continue to be active on the platform. Chipotle took the time to research and understand what TikTok culture was about and they produce genuine quality content that resonated perfectly with their audience and this has in turn increased their revenue and their online presence (Pittman, 2020). The series of challenges has also garnered them 1.6 million followers on TikTok and has solidified the company’s relevance with the younger generation (Chipotle, n.d.). 

Resources

AdAge (April 2020), ‘Chipotle Fans Flip Their Lids Over Viral TikTok Challenge’ Retrieved from https://adage.com/creativity/work/chipotle-mexican-grill-lid-flip-challenge/2252301

TikTok, (n.d.) ‘Chipotle’ Retrieved from https://www.tiktok.com/@chipotle?lang=en

Kelso, A. (August 2019), ‘Why Chipotle’s Bet on TikTok is paying off’ Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciakelso/2019/08/07/why-chipotles-bet-on-tiktok-is-paying-off/?sh=19fd26854080

Mohsin, M. (March 2021), ‘Ten TIKTOK Statistics you need to know in 2021’ Retrieved from https://www.oberlo.ca/blog/tiktok-statistics

Pittman, R. (January 2020), ‘ How Chipotle Took Over TikTok’ Retrieved from https://www.qsrmagazine.com/fast-casual/how-chipotle-took-over-tiktok

COM0014 – Blog # 3 – Target Audiences

I work for a live music venue in the Glebe in Ottawa, Ontario that has been around for 35 years. We are also a neighbourhood pub and restaurant. As it turns out, we have two different main target markets, which is something that has become more apparent during the past year. We have the millennial and Generation Z group who love live music and frequent our establishment for that purpose, and we have the Generation X and Baby Boomer market who enjoy the pub atmosphere and the food. I should mention that there is obviously some crossover, some of the older generation enjoy the live music and some of the younger generation are there for the pub atmosphere and the food, especially as they get older and have families of their own.

During the pandemic, especially at the beginning in March of 2020, we were forced to put live music on hold and food became our sole focus for revenue and this is when it became obvious that we were dealing with two entirely different target markets. 

The younger generation, we will call them target market A, frequented our establishment mostly for live music. They are university students and young professionals who come from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, they have disposable income and most of this group tend to rent in the Glebe, Centretown or Hintonburg. This target market are trendy people who spend money on going out and having fun. They are often single or dating, are of all genders and hang out in large groups with their friends.

Target market B are older, upper middle-class, well-educated Glebe home owners who are nearing the end of their careers or already retired. A lot of them are or were federal government employees, they have adult children, they drive expensive cars, they travel and most of them have cottages nearby where they spend the summer. They generally frequent our establishment with their spouses and other couples for dinner or simply for a drink on their way home from work or after a game of golf.

Before March of 2020 we focused most of our social media marketing on live music and thus target market A. Target market A are younger and because of that are more present on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and that is how we had been focusing our marketing. We also send out a weekly email list to over 2000 people and, before the pandemic, it was centred around our events as well.

As we pivoted to takeout food only, we began to see the number of subscribers drop from our email list, and we also began to see a pretty major decrease in the amount of likes, comments and shares from Instagram and Facebook when posting about food.

We also noticed that the people who were coming to pick up food from the pub were the people in target market B who live in the neighbourhood, were slightly older and were familiar with the food, not those who had been coming for the music. Because of this we have begun to use Twitter more frequently and have had some great success in marketing our takeout efforts there. We have also acquired new email subscribers from target market B who are primarily interested in the food.

It has been a difficult, but interesting year and hopefully we will see both of our main target markets return to the pub as we reopen in the coming months and finally see the return of live music.

Blog #2 – COM0014 – Storytelling and Communication Style

Blog #2 – COM0014 – Storytelling and Communication Style

The first and most important aspect of storytelling and communication is to know one’s audience. Then, one must tell a relevant yet engaging story in a clear and concise writing style that flows well, and encourages people to connect with the material. The more the story resonates with the target audience, the bigger the impression it will make and because of that it will elicit engagement.

The target audience is important to study for storytelling because it is essential to write for the audience. The audience may be segmented by some criteria or be a broader target audience based on geographical location or some other factor. Either way, it will be important to take into account who they are, what they do, how they live and what they are interested in. Truly understanding who one’s audience will ensure that the story makes the biggest possible impact.

The second important aspect of storytelling is the communication style. The story must be written in a manner that makes it easy to follow and understand as well as makes it captivating. It is also important to remember to edit. Grammar and spelling mistakes will take away form the story, and in turn decrease the overall impact and engagement.

Social media is all about storytelling. Whether it is your personal story, the story of your brand or something else that is close to your heart. It is important in social media to connect and engage with the audience. That is why it can he helpful to ask questions in one’s writing where social media is concerned because it is an excellent way to encourage people to participate. It’s as simple as asking for an example, an opinion or a story of their own. 

COM0014 – Blog #1: My Last Vacation before Lockdown

COM0014 – Blog #1: My Last Vacation before Lockdown

It’s been a while since I’ve been anywhere other than the grocery store or the pharmacy. The pandemic has definitely put a damper on one’s ability to travel over the last year. However, I still have many fond memories of the last places I visited before the world shut down. In May of 2019 I was traveled to British Columbia for two weeks for my birthday. We stayed in Vancouver for a week and then took the ferry to Vancouver Island where we stayed for the following week.

View of Vancouver from Kitsilano
Photo Credit: Aislinn Calvert

Vancouver is great city to visit, there are lots of great restaurants, beaches and bike trails to explore and my absolute favourite thing to do is ride the water taxis in False Creek, especially at sunset.

Water taxi in False Creek
Photo Credit: Aislinn Calvert

Every time I travel to Vancouver I stay at the Sylvia Hotel in English Bay. The Sylvia Hotel is a wonderful place to spend time in Vancouver’s west end. It is steps from Stanley Park, with a fantastic view of the Bay and was home to Vancouver’s first cocktail bar, The Tilting Room (Sylvia Hotel, 2016).

The Sylvia Hotel
Photo Credit: Aislinn Calvert

Originally built as an apartment building in 1912, it was later sold and by the 1960’s had become a popular and bustling hotel (V.I.A., 2017). During the Second World War The Sylvia was used to house merchant marines and there are many photos in the hotel from this period and later in the 1960’s (V.I.A., 2017). The Sylvia Hotel’s retro aesthetic allows one to imagine how it felt to be there during those times.

English Bay
Image Source

The hotel is also meant to be haunted by the famous Hollywood actor Errol Flynn, specifically room 604 which happens to be the room I was assigned the first time I stayed at The Sylvia Hotel (V.I.A., 2017). Unfortunately, I do not have any paranormal experiences to report, it was quite an uneventful stay in that respect. Have any of you ever knowingly stayed in a haunted hotel? Canada is home to many ghostly inns, check out this link to find out if you have stayed in some of the most prolific haunted hotels in Canada.

Errol Flynn
Image Credit

The second week of our travels took us to the tiny surf town of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We stayed at the Pacific Sands Bech Resort on Cox Bay, which is well known for great surfing and hosts the largest surfing competition in Canada, The Rip Curl Pro, which happened to be on the week we were there (Tofino, n.d.) Inspired by the surf culture in Tofino and my love of yoga, I arranged to participate in a yoga and surf retreat for the final weekend of the trip through Tofino Yoga. This was an interesting experience as I was the only participant, which made for a very personalized, yet somewhat awkward weekend. 

Me practicing yoga on Cox Bay Beach
Photo Credit: Tofino Yoga

The yoga retreat was fun and consisted of invigorating early morning Hatha yoga classes and evening Yin yoga classes on the beach with surfing lessons provided by Surf Sister in between. Having never surfed before it was certainly a challenge, but I did manage to get up briefly on the second day, something I consider an accomplishment. Have you ever surfed? How long did it take you to get up on the board?

Chesterman Beach, Tofino
Photo Credit: Aislinn Calvert

I have always loved British Columbia and cannot wait to be able to return when the lockdown is over and restrictions on travel are lifted. Tell me about your B.C. adventures!

Resources

Vancouver Is Awesome, (September 2017), ‘5 Things You didn’t Know About the Sylvia Hotel’ Retrieved from https://www.vancouverisawesome.com/events-and-entertainment/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-sylvia-hotel-1934207

Twitter, (July 2016), ‘The Sylvia Hotel’ Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SylviaHotel/status/750731571284484096

Tofino, (n.d.), ‘The Rip Curl Pro Tofino’ Retrieved from https://tourismtofino.com/event/rip-curl-pro-tofino/

Blog #4 – Social Media and Mental Health

We all use social media to a certain extent and some people use it more than others. We use it to connect with friends and relatives, share pictures and to find out what’s happening in our social circles. Some experts believe that the more we engage with social media the lonelier and more isolated we feel. Does the use of social media negatively affect our mental health? 

According to Forbes, it is suggested that the persistent use of social media can result in sadness, feelings of isolation and depression. (Walton, 2017) It’s strange that the very thing we look for in social media, social interaction, actually leaves us feeling worse and more alone. When we use social media we often compare our lives with the lives others are projecting online. We judge ourselves based on the things that other people post. This is called the ‘Comparison Factor’ which can lead to negative feelings about oneself as well as feelings of jealousy and envy toward others. (Walton, 2017) Feelings of inadequacy and lowered self-esteem definitely have a negative affect on our mental health. 

Why do we continue to use social media if it makes us feel bad about ourselves and our lives? 

In the same Forbes article it suggests that we continue to use social media because we are addicted to it. (Walton, 2017) I think we all wonder sometimes if this is the case. Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? I know I do. In a study from Nottingham Trent University they discovered that some behaviours associated with social media are similar to those associated with other forms of addiction such as drugs or alcohol. Some of those behaviours are: ‘neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behaviour’. (Walton, 2017) They also discovered that stopping the use of social media resulted in symptoms of withdrawal in some people both behaviourally and physiologically. (Walton, 2017) 

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, researchers have used MRI scans to monitor the activity in the reward centres of people’s brains while using social media. It has been found that we react positively to ‘likes’ on social media networks at a neurological level. The activity observed in the subjects’ brains in this experiment has also been compared to drug or alcohol addiction. (CMHA, n.d.) 

The CMHA has also said that, not unlike alcohol and drug addiction, the precursors for excessive social media use are existing mental health issues and well as loneliness, low-self esteem and depression (CMHA, n.d.) As mentioned earlier, some of these are also caused by of the overuse of social media.

How do we free ourselves form this vicious cycle?

We can wean ourselves off of social media by removing the apps from our phones to help limit our use. If you are looking for encouragement the CMHA has a number of helpful suggestions. 99 Days of Freedom is one of them. It is an experiment where people try to stay off of Facebook for 99 days. Researchers check in with the participants periodically throughout the 99 days to monitor the participants progress. There are many other resources available if you feel you need help with your social media dependency: The Centre for Internet and Technology Addiction, ementalhealth.ca or Humanetech.com.

Do you feel you suffer from social media addiction?

Promotional Posts

Facebook: Are you addicted to social media? Check out my blog about Social Media and Mental Health https://bit.ly/2Ngm9ZP

Twitter: Are you addicted to social media? #hcsm #mentalhealthawareness https://bit.ly/2Ngm9ZP

Resources

Walton, G. (June, 2017), ‘6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health’ Retrieved From https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#5eeb5faf2e5a

Canadian Mental Health Association, (n.d.), Addictions and Problematic Internet Use, Retrieved From https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/addictions-and-problematic-internet-use/