How M3GAN Reached Consumers In An Online World

M3GAN movie poster from IMDB

M3GAN

With so many different streaming services out there, and movies frequently being released in theatres, people have a wide array to choose from when deciding what media to consume. It can be much harder to stand out with the amount of choice out there. This is why it is especially important to market the content being produced. The film M3GAN is a great example of viral marketing. The movie, “a low-budget horror movie about an AI-powered doll, took Hollywood by surprise by grossing $150 million worldwide as of the start of February.” Universal saw the potential of marketing the film using the popular platform TikTok. A meme showing M3GAN doing a sway type of dance began to take off. This resulted in people recreating the dance and associated hashtags took off. It spurred “1.3 billion views from #M3GAN, #M3GANMovie, and #M3GANDance.” This traffic was mostly organic, not costing the studio a large budget in marketing dollars. They took advantage of the growing buzz by hiring a dance group to perform on popular late-night shows and even during a halftime football game.

Low Budget Advertising

Traditionally, a company would have to do market research before implementing a marketing plan. This could be very time-consuming and expensive. Social media marketing, however, allows companies to be able to do their market research while simultaneously maintaining their social network accounts. Not only does this save on a lengthy research process, but it allows the subject to stay relevant. Especially with the release of a new movie, time can be essential as it is important to garner interest leading up to the release date. With more traditional advertising campaigns, there is a very limited capacity to be able to make changes while the campaign is active without spending significantly more money. However, with social media marketing, there is much more flexibility. Campaigns can be adjusted, or even canceled, anytime throughout. Companies can evaluate analytical tools to see what is working and what is not. What links are people clicking on? Which campaigns are holding their attention?

Social media can provide an opportunity for businesses and companies, including movie studios, to be able to market their product without having to spend a lot. Marketing budgets can be lower but still see large returns. Social media has changed the advertising industry. Rather than having to spend money on traditional advertising spaces such as magazines or newspapers that would only reach a selected audience, companies are able to utilize social media to their advantage. Marketers are able to adjust to target certain audiences based on age, gender, and other demographics. Once the content is out there, it can be shared and spread without the original poster having to lift a finger. It is like word-of-mouth advertising but on a much larger scale. People can see others in their networks sharing the content. It is also much easier to reach a drastically larger audience, especially when going viral.

TikTok compilation of the M3GAN dance

What This Means

Each year the number of movies being released grows. People wanting to attend the movie theatre often have nearly a dozen choices, at any given time, of films to see. The number of films released in 2019 was more than double the number released in 2000. With more and more movies being released each year, studios need to come up with more clever marketing to make sure people are choosing their films to go see. I think the success of social media marketing with M3GAN will cause us to see an increase in these types of marketing strategies and a decrease in more traditional marketing like television and print. It does beg the question if social media marketing can start to be used alone, or if it will see the best success when used in conjunction with other marketing.

Personally, I did see a lot about the movie M3GAN on social media and it did make it seem more interesting to me. Posts did not seem to give away the plot but enhanced the creepier elements of the movie and made me curious. I also feel it can add to the idea of FOMO – the fear of missing out. If a lot of people are posting about, or sharing memes from a particular movie or show, it can really make people feel like they are missing out by not having seen it.

Do you remember seeing anything about the movie M3GAN on social media? Can you think of an example, movie, or product, where you first learned about the product through social media advertising and decided to consume it? Do you dislike seeing things like movies being promoted on social media, does it feel inauthentic?

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Growing Up In a Digital World; The Safety of Our Children

Image via Tima Miroshnichenko

Growing Up Gen-Z

Social media has now been around for decades, and new platforms are constantly being introduced. But with social media, and internet use, being so prominent for so long now, we have generations of children that have had their whole lives documented online. Many Gen-Z have grown up with their whole lives documented as this generation was born around the time social media first emerged. Teen Vogue writes, “It’s commonplace for young people of this generation to have their triumphs and travails documented on the Internet, with a digital footprint that follows them from platform to platform over the years.” This is often without any consent of their own. Social media became a tool to be able to share with friends and family, especially those living far away. However, with the exponential growth of social media there is a larger conversation about consequences as well.

Potential Risks

The full depth of what the risks are when sharing children online is not fully known yet. It is something that is starting to be studied and adults are now speaking out to their own experiences from when they were children. One risk is the idea that it robs children of their privacy. Strangers can learn information about them that the children might not want them to know. And once that information is out there, it cannot be easily revoked. Another issue is children who are influencers themselves. There are currently no laws in most countries protecting these types of children. This could result in some parents exploiting children in hopes to make money off it. Of course, a central risk is safety. People can gain access to information such as your children’s school, their activities, and places they frequent. Putting their physical safety at risk. A child could be recognized in public by a stranger. Their safety may be even further at risk when you realize that it frequents risk of exposing children to hacking, identity theft, and pedophilia.

This only scratches the surface of risks associated with children and social media. The potential risks can all be studied and are immense topics to delve into on their own right. These are starting to be studied, researched, and written about by professionals which is allowing for some of the current knowledge to be more widely known. While it may seem harmless enough to share your children online, many parents are starting to consider the implications and adjust what they are posting and who is able to view it.

Parenting as an Influencer

Influencer Sarah Nicole Landry is a Canadian mom who shares about working, motherhood, body positivity and general lifestyle content. She shares her four children online as well, but for the ones who are old enough to consent she allows them the choice of what she shares. This results in one of the older children being shown much less, however, because of this and respecting her children’s boundaries, she gets accused of favoritism for not showing them the same amount. This gives the children the chance to consent and to for the parents to have honest conversations with them about what social media means and the consequences. They can give or retract consent at any point and not only does this teach powerful messages about the implications of social media, but it also teaches important lessons about consent in general.

Alternatively, popular TikToker Kody Elyse has taken a different choice and will not show her children’s faces online at all. While originally she did share them as part of her platform, she has since taken down all content of her children and is vigilant about preserving their privacy going forward. Her account is focused on lifestyle, fashion, makeup and parenting. She is still able to share parenting and single-mom content without showing her children. Kodye even shared that after her children’s school information was shared online, she decided to re-evaluate how her life as a social media influencer is affecting their safety. Kodye’s children are younger than Sarah’s (other than Sarah’s youngest) and she is still able to protect them while teenagers are not going to be able to fully escape social media. This brings forward a conversation on what we expect from those in the public eye. Many feel they are entitled to parts of influencers lives, including seeing their children. I do not feel anybody, influencers included, should feel obliged or required to share their children and family life online. It is becoming more common to see influencers and other well-known people shielding their children from the public eye.

Where To Go From Here

Ultimately I think it is up to each parent to decide for themselves, but I do think more information is needed around the possible consequences so that parents, and anyone with children in their lives, are able to make the most informed decision possible. This is obviously part of a much wider conversation and much, such as the long-term effects of growing up on social media, is still largely unknown.

Did you grow up having your life shared online by a parent? How did this affect you? If you are a parent yourself or plan to become one, what factors will influence your decision to share your children online and what steps will you take to ensure their safety?

Video on the risks of “Sharenting”


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You are What You Eat? What About, ‘You Are Who You Follow Online’?

Image via Andrea Piacquadio

With people spending so much of their free time on social media, the accounts they choose to follow can surely have a significant impact on their own views of the world. Social media can serve a variety of purposes such as entertainment, education, connection, and more, but one result that may be overlooked is how much social media can influence our own ideologies.

Evaluate the Feed

Especially beginning in 2020 with the pandemic, there was a shift in the type of content I was seeing on my social media pages. The validity of vaccines, the rise of the BLM movement, government laws regarding abortion, and knowledge into the inner workings of corporations, to name a few. These, and others, weren’t topics that were new by any means, but they were receiving a new kind of attention. Movements, news sources, and individuals were able to take more control over the narrative and provide their own resources, education, or insight without it being lost or misinterpreted.

During this time, I decided it was necessary to do a more thorough audit of my own social media, especially Instagram, and evaluate who I was following. To be honest, many of the creators and influencers I followed were mostly white, straight, young, females. The creators of colour that I did follow often rarely appeared on my feed. I began to use Instagram more as a news source. I found some accounts that provide resources and information as part of their platform. If there was a news story I heard about, I would try to find a direct source and see what they were saying about it themselves. A great thing about social media is it does give people and groups the opportunity to speak for themselves without their words being skewed by the media.

The Desire to Diversify

More recently I had sort of a realization that not everyone had made an effort to diversify their feed in the same way. Of course this makes sense, I logistically could not expect everyone to branch out with their learning. However, I didn’t realize how far some would go to ensure they weren’t being exposed to new information. In fact, while some people seek out accounts where they can learn, others are seeking out accounts that have the same ideals as them, problematic or not. Many people out there have no urge to expand their knowledge or be open minded on concepts they know little about. They seek others to validate their own opinions which only furthers their narrow minded thinking. Or it can involve people with little direction that are looking for an ideology to follow. This might be when people are more likely to follow or be influenced by celebrities or other figures they recognize. Often this can be the case with young people using social media who do not always have the same critical thinking skills. I feel this is in part why people like Joe Rogan and Andrew Tate can grow such a following. As Psychology Today discusses, this becomes part of a much more complex psychological phenomenon known as social psychology. This is why it is so important to consume a variety of media and news, and not take the opinions of one person as fact.  

Always Room to Grow

Picture from Matt Bernstein‘s Instagram

Two of the accounts I gain the most knowledge from are Matt Bernstein and ON CANADA PROJECT. I find they present important, difficult topics in ways that are easier to understand and more digestible. They also give great starting points of understanding for those interested into diving deeper into the issues. The news can be heavy and overwhelming for many, including myself, so finding sources that resonate and present in ways that speak to you personally is important. I also know that if I am not in the right headspace to consume the news, I can scroll past them and revisit their pages later without having to be worried about seeing a graphic or alarming photo as the first slide. There are so many people that take their own time and energy to educate others and put together resources, often at their own expense (mental and monetary), and I think these kinds of social media creators need to be recognized and praised just as much as other influencers.

There is still a lot of room for me to grow to keep an inclusive and diverse following. I try to follow and interact with people from a variety of different backgrounds. Some for informative content, and some for more fun content too. By no means do I think my platforms are perfectly balanced for who I follow. But I am much more conscious now of who I follow, who I continue to follow, and how often I go through my followers list. I am looking for accounts that challenge my thinking and give me insight into lived identities I may not know much about. I definitely have noticed a shift in my thinking from this change in who I am following. Seeing content from BIPOC, members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, disabled creators, and those living in bodies of various sizes, has certainly altered what is ‘normal’ for me to see on a regular basis even if I don’t have those encounters as much in the physical world. While there is still a lot of research that could be done into how who we follow online shapes the world views we have, there are already indications showing that diversity has positive impacts – so why not try!

What accounts do you learn the most from? Favourite BIPOC creators – educational or fun? Has there been an influential figure that you unfollowed because you thought they were negatively affecting you?  

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Social Media; a tool for connection or a catalyst to loneliness?

The conversation surrounding social media and the positive vs negative effects is nothing new. However, as more platforms emerge and people are spending more time on them, the possibility for influence also increases.

Loneliness, Competition & Comparison

There have been many articles and studies that do corelate the frequent use of social media to more negative outcomes, and in particular a feeling of loneliness and isolation. Often, people spend a lot of time on these platforms and end up feeling worse about themselves. They can see others being successful, or looking certain ways, and compare it to where they are in life. This can especially be the case when following peers of the same age and feeling like you’re ‘falling behind’ when they post about reaching certain life stages. Many people, including influencers with large followings, post perfectly curated versions of their life. Seeming like they have it all together, all the time. A constantly tidy, organized house. A loving, put together family. And a social media feed that is aesthetically pleasing and shows travel, work success, and beauty.

One central element of social media is that it gives you access to profiles and pages of people from around the world. And while this can allow for more creativity and sharing of ideas, it also allows for more comparison. We are seeing glimpses into people’s lives and comparing it to our own without knowing the intricacies behind it. The person could make more money, or they might not work and therefore have more free time. Or they could be inherently unhappy with their lives, but that doesn’t show through the curated pictures on the screen.

Further, connections that are made can feel superficial. Posting for the ‘likes’ or comments rather than to have people fully understand or relate to you. Problems can also arise when people use social media connections to supplement connections in real life. The more time people spend online and the less in in-person social experiences, the more lonely they are likely to feel.

Connection, Compassion & Learning

As we talked about, social media is often equated to negative outcomes, especially in regards to mental health. But what about the positives? Personally, I hear positive outcomes of social media use talked about much less frequently. Social media use is often vilified in the media or by older generations, but one would think there must be some positive impact to something we devote so much time towards. Much of social media’s origins was based around connection. Finding people within groups to connect with. Whether it was people going to the same school, involved in the same sport, or interested in the same topics. It can be a way to bring people together, especially those that may otherwise have a harder time making those connections in real life.

Have a niche hobby? There is probably a Reddit discord about it. Want to find people in your area to meet up with for hiking? Facebook has tons of groups where you can make connections, local or more broad. Instagram can be great to build, or join, a network of like-minded people. If you enjoy travelling you can likely find people catering to specific types of travel. Solo, group, female, van-life, and much more. The various ‘Toks’ people may find themselves on within TikTok can give insight into particular groups’ struggles and expose the average person to conditions or people they may have otherwise not encountered in their life. This can allow for more compassion should they meet someone like this outside of the digital realm.

There is also a lot of learning that can take place within social media and it serves as another avenue through which to get news. Many groups, charities and movements have their own pages where they can provide information, resources and ways to be supported by followers. It allows visitors to get firsthand information that isn’t being edited or disrupted by traditional news media. It can be hard to know if connections are genuine, and in order to make real connections on social media one has to make sure interactions they partake in are not just performative.

Not One or the Other

Personally, I often feel both effects from using Social Media and it can be hard to control which way, positive or negative, those feelings go. The more mindless scrolling that I do, the more I feel disengaged. What do I try to remember? Most often I try to remember that, like myself, many people use social media as a highlight reel. While it has become more common for people to talk about struggles, or show themselves more naturally, the use of filters, edited pictures, and selective information is still many peoples preferred way of posting. I am no different. I use social media as a scrapbook of sorts. I show pictures and experiences with locations so that down the road I can look back and remember the experience. I enjoy taking photos and trying to capture the best memories. While I will occasionally show a negative experience, it is likely to be shown in the scope of having overcome it.

I think the most important thing people can do is be conscious of their time on social media. Really evaluate how they are left feeling after using particular platforms. Does this change based on the amount of time spent? After about 20-30 minutes I notice it typically shifts more negative for me. Further, I think people should pay attention to which platforms are more of a benefit and which ones produce more negative emotions. As with most things, the topic of social media being good or bad is a very nuanced conversation that will vary greatly from person to person. As an article by The Harvard School of Public Health discusses, it is less about the time spent on social media and more about how mindful people are being during this time.

When using social media, do you find you have experienced more feelings of positive connection OR negative feelings such as loneliness, isolation or comparison? Which social media app makes you feel the best? The worst? Have you made any conscious choices to help with these feelings? I hope this allows everyone to be even a little more mindful of their emotions while using Social Media!

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