There is a growing trend on social media-and it’s leaving viewers mesmerized.

An example of the millions of ASMR videos captivating viewers.
Video courtesy of: YouTube

Millions of people scroll mindlessly through videos on their Facebook feed and YouTube everyday, watching mind-numbing footage of puppies, babies, pranks and epic fails. People even watch videos of other people watching videos. It’s strange… but true.

A certain type of video on social media has been gaining in popularity and it even has celebrities joining in on the trend. It’s called ASMR videos. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is not new, however it certainly has reached a whole new audience in the video world, and people just can’t seem to get enough. So what exactly are these videos all about and why are they so mainstream? Let’s take a look at what this developing trend is all about and how ASMR videos can leave you in a state of mesmerized relaxation.

ASMR: What is it and where did it come from?

ASMR is considered to be a feeling of well-being often combined with a tingling sensation in response to stimulation. This reaction is common to certain stimulus in particular sights and sounds. People have often described an ASMR video as being relaxing, satisfying and in some cases pleasurable. In many cases viewers claim it can be used as an aid to assist with falling asleep.

Autonomy Sensory Meridian Response is believed to have started with a woman named Jennifer Allen. In 2010 she created a Facebook group hoping to find out more about this complex experience. As a result a community of individuals were able to identify their feelings with the term ASMR and better understand this phenomenon. Lopez, G. (2018, May 25). ASMR, explained:why millions of people are watching YouTube Videos of someone whispering [Blog]

What are ASMR videos and who makes them?

In order to understand what an ASMR video is and how it makes a person feel, some time was spent watching people whisper into a microphone while making fluid and whimsical motions with their hands. Some videos focused on long finger nails tapping rhythmically on glass objects or keyboards. There are videos of people crinkling paper and wrappers and even audio of someone eating crunchy foods or slurping noodles. All in all it seems very strange and other-worldly, however regardless of the type of video it is interesting how submerged the mind becomes when stimulated by these sounds. Minutes turn into hours and then it seems like watching shaving foam being spread over a microphone while listening to the tiny little bubbles pop is almost normal. Almost. There is something soothing about the videos that have people whispering usually into not one but two microphones. And while some chatter on about their day, others get more involved and participate in roleplay pretending to be a ficticious character.

ASMR Women’s Magazine Interview with Margot Robbie
Video courtesy of: YouTube

There are thousands of ASMR videos on YouTube created by just about anyone. Denis Riley, 17 year old YouTuber, has a channel where he pretends to be the perfect boyfriend and whispers sweet nothings to lull viewers to sleep. Even celebrities like rap artist Cardi B, actress Eva Longoria and Margot Robbie have all taken their turn exploring ASMR and have created their own videos. Millions of followers are attracted to these videos like a moth to a flame and the truth is, just about anyone can make an ASMR video as the popularity increases and more people are identifying as being stimulated and satisfied through this medium.

Proceed with caution.

As with anything online there is danger associated with ASMR as well. Youtube is filled with child YouTube sensations upwrapping gift items or showcasing the lateset and greatest toys. ASMR videos are being produced by minors and parents are being warned of the dangers of having their children participate in these types of videos. Concerns of children roleplaying and whispering can trigger certain sexual responses that endanger the minors and put them at risk. Recently child YouTube sensation, Life With Mak, was recently suspended after an ASMR featuring the young girl roleplayed dressed as a police officer. The 14 year old with 1.6 million followers later had her account reinstated however YouTube did turn off the ability to leave comments on her account. Flood, R. (2019, October 19). GETTING SCHOOLED Parents warned new social media trend ASMR could be sexualising children with popular roleplay videos. [Article]

While ASMR is still a fairly new trend, it’s popularity is growing steadily and quickly. Everyone seems to be involved in watching videos created to give that satisfied and relaxed feeling. And even though they seem harmless, ASMR can become dangerous and put minors at risk when they engage and participate in videos.

So what is your take on ASMR? Will you be googling your way through hours of mesmerizing audio visual stimlus or will you be sticking to a hot bath and good book for your unwind time?

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Social Media and Mental Health: How to Change Your Mindset.

This week people across the globe acknowledged World Mental Heath Day, taking a pause in their busy lifestyles to check in and assess their mental well being. Unfortunately mental health needs to be recognized on a daily basis rather than annually. When we stop and think about the progression of mental illness over the past 50 years it is not difficult to see that as time passes the number of people who suffer from mental health issues is on a continuous up-rise. Several factors may play into the root cause, such as the changes in the economy over the years, the infusion of chemicals and fillers in our foods and the continuous development of technology. Scientists have conducted many studies over the years to determine what causes mental illness, especially in younger people. Recent findings indicate there is a common factor that has been linked to depression, low self esteem and social anxiety. The truth is social media has played a huge factor in the rapid decline in mental health. With the constant parade of flawless images and the need of validation through a high number of likes and followers, it is no wonder that people are becoming mentally unwell. But all hope is not lost! Take a further look at these mental effects of social media and see how the following tips can leave you in a healthier mindset.

Depressive symptoms are common in people that spend several hours a day on social media.
Photo courtesy of: Pixabay.

Depression

In a study from 2012 to 2018, a research team led by Patricia Conrod, recruited adolescents from 31 schools in Montreal and followed their behaviors from grade 7-11. The study, now published by the American Medical Association, had the students report the number of hours spent on social media, television and video games. Depressive symptoms were most evident in the students that engaged on sites such as Instagram and Facebook. It was also found of the three types of screen time studied, the consumption of social media was the most harmful. McKenna, K. (2019, July 15). Social media, but not video games, linked to depression in teens, according to Montreal study. [Article] Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/social-media-mental-health-screen-time-instagram-facebook-video-games-study-1.5211782

So why are teens showing symptoms of depression when engaging on social platforms? No study has pinpointed an exact cause, however there is correlation between depression and social media as it often is associated with online bullying, social status, weight and body image. Limiting screen time and exposure to social media is often an easy yet effective way to ward off depressive symptoms. Online bullying often occurs when engagement is present, so removing a contact if bullying is a factor can help overcome some issues. Privacy settings can also be put in place to avoid seeing content that may be triggering.

What people portray on social media is not always their true self.
Photo courtesy of: Pixabay

Low Self-Esteem

Flip through Instagram and it’s is easy to see why it would contribute to low self-esteem. The pictures of beautiful people taking luxurious holidays in their designer outfits are everywhere. Logically we all know that life is never perfect and there must be some filters and fiction behinds the facade. Yet many of us sit there and analyze the deficiencies in our lives in comparison to the Kardashian’s. Instagram gives the illusion of wealth, loving relationships, and dream homes, and sets unattainable standards. Feelings of inadequacy and failure set in, causing people to second guess their worth. Self value online is measured by the amount of “likes” and followers a person has, so when influencers have an audience of millions it sets the bar quite high! Mindful scrolling is a way to set boundaries and see only what you want to see. Purposely looking at the feed of only your close friends and family will help you stay surrounded by those who are closest to you and know who you truly are. This way the pressure of trying to portray an image of yourself as someone else is gone, and you can continue living your best life! Bawa, N. (2018, October 15). Social media addiction can lead to low self-esteem, envy: 5 ways to beat it. [Article] Retrieved from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/social-media-addiction-can-lead-to-low-self-esteem-envy-5-ways-to-beat-it/articleshow/66210478.cms

Feeling disconnected from others is common when engaging in too much social media. Photo courtesy of: Pixabay

Lonliness and Social Anxiety

Never have we lived in a time where the world is so connected yet disconnected. In a study recently sponsored by Cigna Health Research Company,out of 20,000 Americans, 46% of participants reported feeling alone some or most of the time. Amatenstein, S. (n/a). Not So Social Media: How Social Media Increases Loneliness. [Article] Retrieved from https://www.psycom.net/mental-health-wellbeing/mental-health-wellbeing-mental-health-wellbeing-how-social-media-increases-loneliness/

How is that possible when we are connected to all of our “friends” on social media? Many of us are spending a significant amount of time in front of a screen rather than interacting with people face to face. The more time connecting with people via social media means more time disconnecting with humanity in the real world. Teens are not as apt to go and hang out at a friends house. Instead they connect online while staying at home in their comfort zone. By not having real-life human connections and engagement the more likely social anxiety will develop. People are starting to lose the capability of holding conversations. According to a study done by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2017 , young adults that use social media for two hours a day have twice the chance of developing social anxiety. The same study determined that people who visited these platforms more than 50 times a week were 3 times more likely to be percieved as socially isolated in comparision to those that visited 9 times a week or less. So what can be done to bridge the gap? The exact opposite of what is happening now. Disconnect to connect. Read that again. We need to disconnect from social media platforms in order to connect with our friends and family. Put the phone away and go out to a movie or dinner. Take a walk in the park and say hello when passing people on the trails. Try volunteering the time you would have otherwise spent online and do some good for your community. Relearn the art of conversation, get out there and start engaging in life rather than watching other people live theirs on Facebook.

Social Media is a great way to connect however becoming too involved can be harmful to your mental health. Learning how to balance life and social media while creating boundaries is key to your mental well-being. Have you managed the perfect balance of social media in your life or do you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) when you are away from social media for too long? Drop a comment below to share how you manage social media while maintaining a healthy mindset.

How do you know when social media has started to affect your mental health? Take a look at the effects Facebook and Instagram can have on your mental well-being and how to create the perfect balance in your life. http://bit.ly/35LQJmq

Mental health issues are on the up-rise but are we causing them by engaging in social media too much? Click to find out how you can create healthy boundaries to help maintain and possibly improve your mental health. http://bit.ly/35LQJmq

Virtual Stranger Danger-How To Stay Secure Online.

Faceless stranger in the cyber world. Photo courtesy of: pixabay.com

When we are young, parents lecture at length about strangers. Don’t talk to to strangers, or take candy from them, and NEVER EVER answer the door for someone you don’t know. It was a simple equation: You+Stranger=Danger.

So when did it become okay to interact with people online that we have never met? Everyday we let total strangers have a peak into our lives through windows like Facebook and Instagram. We open our cyber door and give away personal information to faceless identities as if they were our BFF. So how do we identify and avoid the dangers of the modern day stranger? Removing social media from your life is completely unrealistic, but if you follow these tips and you can stay safe and confident while continuing to network on your favourite social sites.

Secure all your accounts with privacy settings. Photo courtesy of: pixabay.com

1. Privacy settings.

Despite the constant warnings of the dangers lurking online, many people still rely on the default settings for social media apps. According to chief marketing officer for ID Experts, Doug Pollack, it is extremely important to read and understand the privacy settings for each social media platform you use. He also advises against using Facebook,the most popular social site amougst users, to log into other applications. Although it may be convienient, it becomes a portal to pass along your data and details to other applications. By adjusting your privacy settings you are securing your information from getting into the wrong hands.

Bell, L. (2019, May 30). Six Social Media Safety Tips. [Article] Retreived from https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/six-social-media-safety-tips

Posting locations can be dangerous. Photo courtesy of: pixabay.com

2. Turn off locations.

Believe it or not, your location is incredibly sensitive information. Take for example a woman who goes jogging everyday and documents her fitness progress on Facebook. Seems harmless right? Wrong. When you check in to a location you are sharing that information with thousands of people. Take our jogger, she posts online with a picture and location tag everytime she goes for a run. The sun is setting in the background. Her habitual posting is providing us with a pattern. With the infomation she voluntarily provided, she is disclosing both a location and now a timeframe, and through her posts a potential perpetrator can easily identify where she is going to be and when. This doesn’t mean you can’t share where you have been on social media. Instead of using your location settings in the moment, wait until you have returned home, or share the information at a later time. This way you are not letting complete strangers know your daily routines and giving them insight into your life in real time.

O’Donnell, A. (2019, August 19). Why Sharing Your Location On Social Media Is A Bad Thing. [Blog] Retreived from https://www.lifewire.com/why-sharing-your-location-on-social-media-is-a-bad-thing-2487165

Reading the terms and conditions can protect you. Video provided by: YouTube.com

3. Read everything.

When you create or update a social media app do you actually read the terms and conditions listed? You know the really boring stuff in tiny font that you need a magnifying glass to see. I didn’t either…until recently. Let’s take Snapchat as an example. Fun fact-Did you know that you need to be at least 13 years old to use Snapchat? Not only does the terms and conditions state they will use and distribute your information to third parties, but there are 3 levels of information they collect. Info you choose to provide, info provided by other companies and the info they gather while you use the app. That is basically all the content you post on Snapchat. It doesn’t matter if the photo you post is “deleted” after a certain amount of time, Snapchat and its partners’ still has access to that picture. They actually have access to everything and unrestricted rights to use any content you post because you gave them permission when agreeing to the terms and conditions. Scary right? This can easily be avoided by doing some reading. Check into the privacy details and conditions everytime you download or update an app. You may still end up agreeing to the conditions, however you are now aware and know the next time you post a selfie it no longer belongs to just you.

Hubbel, A. (2018, May 30). What Does Spapchat’s Contract Say When You Sign Up For An Account? [Blog] Retreived from https://www.advertisemint.com/snapchats-contract-say-sign-account/

Online gaming is a hotspot for predators. Photo courtest of: pixabay.com

4. Online Gaming.

Online gaming is bigger than ever, especially with the release of FortNite in 2017. Gamers, ranging from young child to adults, are able to play against people across the globe in battles where the last person standing wins the game. Sounds innocent enough, however the danger lies in how the gamers communicate with eachother. People can chat with other participants using headphones equipped with microphones. This means speaking to various strangers and possible predators. In a recent presention by Internet safety and digital well-being expert Matt Richardson, founder of Digital Empowerment Project Canada, he explained that predators participate in these gaming chats while looking for distracted kids to provide personal information. Children are often so involved in the game, that when questions are asked by strangers, they may not even realize they are providing information that could lead a child predator straight to their door. Richardson emphasized the importance of educating children of the potential risks while gaming and suggested playing against real life friends only. Bringing children of all ages to an online safety course is an excellent way to engage them in the important conversation of cyber security and how they can use different methods to ensure their safety online.

(M. Richardson, personal communication, September 18, 2019).

The online world can be dangerous and filled with scary strangers, but so is the real world. The solution is not to give in to the fear and hide from social media, but to embrace it and arm yourself with the tools and knowledge required to protect you and your family. What steps do you take for online security? If you have any suggestions please share them in the comment section below.

Want to protect yourself from the dangers online? Check out these tips.
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How to Keep Your Social Media Marketing Fun and Focused

By Christi Bouchard-Howden September 21-2019

Social Media Marketing has the potential to reach thousands of people.
Photo courtesy of: Pixabay.com

Posting With Purpose

Social media is a place where millions of people are literally at your fingertips. Your marketing campaign has the power to reach millions of views and influence just as many minds. But how exactly do you make your audience stop and take notice? We all know that keeping up with a social media schedule and posting regularly is key-however the content of the post is equally if not more important. It’s the quantity vs quality debate. Would you want your audience to view your content and see a ton of “fluffy fillers” with absolutely no purpose, or would you rather your followers be left with the feeling they are valued because you are providing them with an experience? Of course you would choose to have a connection with your target audience! Having relevant content doesn’t mean your post needs to be boring, you just need to figure out how to get your message across in an innovative way. Check out the tips below to see how you can keep your social media marketing fresh, fun and focused.

Get to know your target audience.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

1. Know your audience.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many posts are geared towards the interests of the writer. You may love an inspirational quote every day of the week, but it’s not necessarily what your followers want to see and it’s definitely not helping you reach your marketing goals.

First and foremost you need to find out exactly who your target audience is. What are the demographics? Think of yourself as a detective! Ask questions and dig deep to find the answers. What do your followers look like, how old are they, where do they live, what are their interests, and why do they need your product? Do your market research. There are several online tools available for marketing research on social media. Find the one that works best for you and get to know your audience.

Connect with your followers.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

2. Connect and engage.

Once you know your target audience, it’s time to connect with them. Communication is the key to any good relationship-and that is exactly what you are building. If you are using a “quote of the day”, make sure it sends a message to your viewers. Encourage them to share their feelings, stories or experiences that particular quote invokes. Maybe take your post in a different direction and have a theme day instead. For example, you can have a “Trivia Tuesday”, or “Fun Fact Friday”. The tips or facts should relate directly to your product or brand yet still spark interest with your readers. Also take the opportunity to post “open-ended” content that prompts the reader to become involved in the post. If it’s a trivia post, give your followers a chance to respond before revealing the answer. Take it a step further and offer a prize to the first person to get the question right. By interacting and communicating, you are connecting and engaging with your audience. You can see the level of engagement of your post with a social media analytics or insights tool. These tools give statistics and data detailing the interactions on your posts. From the results you can determine what types of posts your followers prefer based on their interactions. This is an excellent way to see what types of posts your audience responds to best.

Keep your audience captivated with compelling material.
Photo courtesy of: Pixabay.com

3. Keep your content captivating.

Your followers expect quality content. They want relevant information delivered in an innovative way. So what do you when the creative creek runs dry? Find a pool of inspiration! There are many sources online that supply content ideas for posts. You can scroll through Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms of social media. You can also check out blogs that list the different ways to keep your audience captivated.

All of these are great, however the best source for content is through your competition! This is not a suggestion to steal or plagiarize content from the enemy. It simply means taking a look at your competitors and see what works for them. By using a competitive analysis tool you can evaluate their rankings, social media and keyword comparisons. Some of these tools give insight into your competitors best performing product ads and strategies. This information is incredibly valuable because you know what your product has over the competition. Use that information to educate your followers. Captivate them by giving them something your competition can’t. Incorporate your knowledge with a creative delivery and you have a recipe for success!

Your contents needs to stand out from the others.
Photo courtesy of: Pixabay.com

4. Make your content stand out.

You know your target audience and you are building a relationship with them through informative and captivating material…so what’s next? Find a way to relate your message through a creative delivery! Not everyone is an artist or a graphic designer, but that doesn’t mean your content has to look like you only know how to draw stick people. The internet is full of sites offering images for free or at a small cost. Popular sites include Pixabay, Pexels, Shutterstock, and Canva. (Make sure when using images you have either permission to use the photo or it is not under copyright. Infringement has penalties, however that is a whole other blog post!)

One product in particular, called Promo (previously known as Slide.ly), gives you the opportunity to present your content through a variety of photos, video clips backed by music. These videos have thousands of categories enabling you to choose the perfect one for your product.

Use an analytics tools to monitor insights and post engagements.
Photo courtesy of: Pixabay.com

The End Game

Every social media marketer strives to get leads and drive up their traffic, which in turn builds their business. These goals are within reach if you are establishing a relationship with your audience, connecting and engaging with them regularly by providing quality and relevant content. Keep it fresh and fun with the delivery but never underestimate the power of knowledge by using the various tools available to analyze and track your followers engagement and interactions with your posts.

What are your social media marketing goals and how do feel that your content is reaching your target audience effectively?

Find out How To Keep Your Social Media Fun and Focused
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