Have you ever caught yourself in a situation where 10 minutes of scrolling through Instagram reels, Tiktoc, or Facebook posts turns into an hour and you’ve barely blinked an eye? It happens to the best of us. What if you replace those short ten second videos with a 5-minute presentation? Or a 30-minute lecture video? All of a sudden time is not going by as quick. From 2000 – 2013 the average person’s attention span had decreased from 12 seconds to 7 seconds. That being said keep in mind that was before the creation of Tiktoc, Instagram reels, and Snapchat spotlight. Over the course of these past few years social media has done a great job rewiring our attentions spans. Our attention span itself has decreased but, our ability to multi-task has improved accordingly. We are now able to process information at a faster speed. The perks of that rewiring are never ending but cons aren’t quite as easy to overlook. Social media give us the opportunity to access an abundance of information, networks, and ideas just with the taps of a few fingers. That being said we are humans, and our brain don’t function the same way as these automated apps. The information overload caused by spending too much time on these apps can cause difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, short attention span, and fatigue. As addicting and as important as social media is in our day to day lives, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s important to take some time away and reset and rest your mind. Some great ways of doing this are;
Listening to music
Arts and crafts
Indulging in self-care
These are just a few ideas to help you reset and take a break from social networks as often as you might need. Keep in mind, disconnecting is just as important at your need to stay connected.
We have officially made it to 2021, a year of recovering and hope, a year that seemed to have taken it’s sweet time getting here. 2020 was a devastating year to many, it was a time where the world was locked in their homes, away from friends and family, leaving them to turn to social media to connect. This was the biggest year for social media according to Hootsuite, 3.8 billion people, or 49 percent of the planet’s population, were active on social media. I would be lying if I said looking at my screen time these days didn’t alarm me, I devoted most of my 2020 year to watching TikTok video’s and planning out my Instagram feed, as I am sure many of you can relate.
For a year that was mostly distanced, I did find it one of my most social, I found myself on Facetime, Imessage, and Messenger more then ever before. I had nothing but time to reach out and check up on what some of my friends and family were doing, it confused me as I had never been closer to people, despite the physical distance. The amount of new apps that were downloaded on my phone in 2020 was at an all time high, I had downloaded TikTok the week of the first lockdown, I truly believe it was one of the only things keeping me entertained, as my attention was only needed for a 15-60 second video, until I would swipe to the next, which I did for countless hours and days. I don’t believe that the app would of had as much success as it did if it wasn’t for the pandemic, people chose to laugh and bond over an app that helped escape the reality that was 2020.
With much of the world in a stay at home order, many people lost their jobs or had to work from home, you could say that people involved in social media work were quite lucky as it was almost like business as usual, but in their pyjamas. Influencers also had the ability to continue working almost as normal, with people turning to their phones more then ever, the attention was on them to grow and promote. Online shopping was heavily abused throughout the year, I can promise I made up a good chunk of that percentage. With people constantly scrolling through their social apps and seeing all the brands and influencers posting about the latest trends, and with nothing on the calendar to look forward to, why not order a little something to keep a lookout for in the mail. In many ways, social media had a hand in keeping 2020 afloat.
So if 2020 was the year of all things social media, what is in store for 2021? Will we top the numbers from the year before? How will this affect us once we return to our normal routines? Will we be doing TikTok dances at our desks? These are the questions I am left asking myself. I am hopeful and excited to see what is to come for 2021 on all things social media and our normal lives. What app did you spend your time on in 2020? What do you think is to come from all of this in 2021? Share your thoughts below!
I will be honest the content posted on various pet-inspired Instagram accounts does not really affect my decision-making for my own pet. I do not choose one brand over another because a cute little kitty is wearing a branded, pink, bedazzled jump suit. What it does do however, is cut through all the negativity and heavy content on social media. I scroll through my feed, see cute puppy pics, and I am instantly reminded that things in my life are not that bad. That being said, it is no wonder that pet accounts actually out perform human accounts on Instagram (Rabimov, 2018).
Popular accounts like Doug The Pug and Nala Cat each have millions of followers, moreover, each grosses over $15,000 USD per post! Even higher than that is JiffPom who makes over $45,000 USD per post (Dailymail.com, 2020). Many of these accounts have sponsorship agreements with companies like TikTok, Target and Banana Republic. Some have even appeared in commercials along side celebrities like Miranda Lambert and the Katy Perry (Dailymail.com, 2020). Obviously, there is something to be said about social media influencers, specifically pet influencers, because large international brands are paying big bucks to engage with their followers. There must be a reason (and results) if companies are continuing to include this type of digital engagement in their marketing and sponsorship budgets.
But in the end, if you want an instant cuteness overload to brighten your day, check out some of my favourite Instagram accounts (by the way, I’m a dog person so they are mostly puppy-centric):
Pawsup (this is actually Ellen Degeneres’ account, and is really a collection of cute animal pics that her viewers and fans submit)
What are your favourite pet Instagram accounts to follow? (Shameless plug, my miniature golden doodle and his best friend pit bull have their own Instagram account, check them out at Fluffy and his Doodle)
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?
Facebook: Are you addicted to social media? Check out my blog about Social Media and Mental Health https://bit.ly/2Ngm9ZP
It is empowering women and men of all ages and every shape and size possible to give up on their plight of “Instaperfectionism”, and instead begin to discuss and even display our flaws for the world to see.
If you aren’t familiar with body positivity, it’s doing what curated & airbrushed modelesque feeds are not – it’s helping people practice something that has been risqué in our culture – giving a platform for people to enjoy being their authentic selves, despite what society wants.
This video from Essence does a great job of explaining the concept of the Body Positive movement:
If you believe that you’re fat and that fat is a problem, there is a billion dollar industry out there waiting for you to open your wallet. If you don’t like the shape of your nose, the lines in your forehead, the little pouch of skin under your armpits even – there’s an industry waiting in the shadows to help you nip, tuck, and sell you a serum to “get rid of your imperfections.”
But what if, instead, the messaging we sent others an ourselves was to embrace ourselves and try to love ourselves not in SPITE of those things, but because of them.
Seems impossible right? Wrong.
One day, I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram while bored on lunch at work. I knew I could have been doing anything else, maybe even something I get pleasure from, like listening to a book on audible. But the allure to scroll is a strong one.
On this particular day, I got ready for work in a rush. My outfit wasn’t the greatest, nor my hair and makeup the neatest. The goal was to get to work on time, and maybe even enjoy 5 solid minutes of stretching before getting out of my warm bed. So I made my decision, and felt okay about it. Until the scrolling started.
Your curated feed is what you make of it. So in my feed I had a phenomenal amount of film industry professionals, friends, family, and you guessed it: Influencers.
Influencer isn’t a bad word. To influence can be impactful in wonderful ways, as we have seen with the current Black Lives Matter movement. Change is happening slowly but steadily in part because of the ways in which people are positively influencing each other to use their voices and platforms to help Black people get laws and regulations change, and see justice – which is badly needed.
Then there are the influencers who have those photos, you know the ones – the overly curated feed in travel adventures, food and cocktail perfection, and of course, their bodies/faces/hair/manicures are always on point.
I, however, am rarely ever on point with any or all of those things, and on this day, I really felt it. Sloppy and soft is how I felt, as I went through account upon account of highlights and images that only made me feel worse.
Right then, I stopped following anyone who made me feel bad about myself, I started doing my research on the right accounts to follow.
So…what accounts should you follow?
In this case, I needed help revamping what I thought I knew to be ‘ideal’ or ‘beautiful’. We only think that thin equates beauty because thinness has been sold to us for decades. Thin is being pushed at us by Instagram and Facebook ads promoting slimming teas. What if, in fact, all bodies are beautiful bodies? What if it was time to redefine what we think is beautiful?
I had read about the very public disagreement between actor & activist Jameela Jamil and the Kardashian family over promoting of “skinny teas”. Through that story, I learned about I Weigh, an Instagram revolution she had developed to diversify and encourage inclusivity. At any size, any race, any gender, any sexuality. The posts were filled with kindness, love, and a clear mission to shame these tea companies and the celebrities that promote them. This account made me feel good, and informed, and it was through this account I found a few more favorites:
@thebirdspapaya: Sarah Nicole is a Canadian blogger and podcast guru in the body positive space. Her account is honest, and she writes often about her journey through divorce & remarriage, her recovery from her eating disorder, parenting and how to navigate social media.
@ownitbabe: I was originally a fan of Rini’s podcast before finding her instagram account. She no longer does the podcast but still provides great information on self care and mental illness as it relates to social media.
@scarrednotscared: Michelle has a really inspiring account, and is a great body confidence coach. I get excited to read her new content.
@CeCeOlisa: CeCe is a plus sized fashion blogger whose motto is “Don’t wait on your weight”, and is co-founder of the account @theCurvycon – she has a great message and it’s always great to support female entrepreneurs.
These are just a few of the amazing and inspiring accounts that Instagram has to offer to guide you on the right path of self acceptance and love. I personally like to follow accounts that I can relate to – and I love following accounts that I can’t relate to at all. Learning about other people’s life experiences help us to grow and change.
I won’t always feel my best every day. And I certainly don’t need to follow anyone on social media who makes me feel worse. At the end of the day, the best advice I can deliver is this:
Love your body and all of it’s bumps, dimples, scars, and beauty marks. It’s been with you for your whole life, and it continues to grow change with you. It’s the body that you came into this world with. The body whose knees you skinned. The body that hugs your loved ones. The body that does it’s best to protect you. You are lucky to be here, in this body that you have. It’s yours and it tells your story.
I hope you’ll consider doing yourself this one favor. If you’re already on this path – what accounts do you follow that make you feel good?
There are many upsides to social media, especially these days, when we aren’t seeing our friends and relatives in person because of social distancing. Social media has become our lifeline, our way to socialize, to keep up with current trends and it’s where a lot of us now get our news. However, there are many downsides to social media, Cyberbullying is one of them. When we think of bullying we often think of teenagers. We think of the schoolyard bullies that exist in every school, in every country in the world. Social media was not around when I was in high school, something I am very thankful for. I cannot imagine what that would have been like. Social media has given the schoolyard bully both the power and the weapon. Cyberbullying is a plague upon social media. However, bullying isn’t just for teenagers, adults do it to.
According to Wikipedia, Cyberbullying is “an aggressive, intentional act or behaviour that is carried out by a group or an individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.” (Cyberbullying, n.d.) In our current social climate this happens online everyday regardless of age.
According to study in Psychology Today, adults are just as likely as teenagers to be involved in cyberbullying if not more so. Adults 18-25 years old experience the most elevated levels of bullying online, followed by those 26-35 years old, of which 24% claim to have been cyberbullied. This study suggests that people of all ages report having experienced forms of online harassment, including 6.5 %of those over 66 years old. (Scheff, 2019)
Cyberbullying can take on many forms. It can be as simple as name calling, emotional intimidation or spreading rumours and can escalate to harassment, torment or threatening behaviour. (Birdsong, 2017) We see it on our social platforms and in our work lives. Online harassment and bullying can have a lasting affect on one’s mental health, reputation and in extreme cases can lead to more dangerous situations like cyberstalking or suicide. There are many potential long term effects of cyberbullying. According to the End To Cyberbullying Organization: Depression, low self-esteem and dating abuse can be some long-term effects of cyberbullying. In the most extreme cases suicide is a serious risk as well. Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia is a well known example of this. She was a seventeen year old high school student who committed suicide after having photographs of her alleged gang rape posted and shared online. (Suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons, n.d.) As terrible as this case was, it did have a positive impact on the laws surrounding cyberbullying. More information can be found here: Intimate Images and Cyber-Protection Act.
Social media makes us susceptible to the Bystander Effect. By definition the bystander effect is “is a social psychology theory that states that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when there are other people present” (Bystander Effect, n.d.) Because social media is public, we assume others will do something to help so we don’t have to.
So, What can we do if we think someone is being cyberbullied? How can we help?
There are a couple of steps that can be taken. Firstly, do not engage with the aggressor, do not ‘like’ or forward what they are posting. Report the incident to the social media platform they are using. You can also private message the victim and offer support. (Scheff, 2019) If you want to offer professional support to someone who is being cyberbullied, for adults contact The Cyber Smile Foundation’s Global Support Service and children can always contact the Kids Help Phone.
The next time you see someone being bullied online will you reach out and help?
A friend of mine is co-owner of holistic health business in Lindsay, Ancient Wisdom Holistics. She paired her retail experience with her deep belief in alternative healing to launch a small shop which also offers some professional services and learning events.
As with most start-ups, there’s little money for marketing, so she and her partner are employing social media as best they can. They’ve chosen to have a presence on both Facebook and Instagram, which seems to be the appropriate choice for their target market and type of business.
On Facebook, @Ancient.Wisdom.444 has more than 500 followers. The owners post a few times a week and generally earn a few comments and 10 to 20 likes. The posts tend to be product photos or announcements of events. They are not optimally worded to encourage engagement from other users; this is an area which needs improvement. Spelling and grammar could also be improved. The owners also share inspirational and wellness-themed posts, very relevant to their market.
The Facebook posts have a very gentle, respectful tone. They invoke a sense of peace and wellbeing, and are very true to the personality of the owners. Consider this example, from this winter:
Good snowy morning everyone. Ancient Wisdom Holistics will be closed for the day do to the weather. Let’s stay off the roads and let the plow drivers get there job done easier 🎉😇 P.j’s hot tea and movies day! After we shovel out😜 Have a safe and great day. See you Friday
The owners have taken advantage of some other Facebook features that are beneficial for business marketing. The “About” section contains appropriate keywords for this market: “A large selection of Crystals, Minerals & Sage as well as Meditation classes. Psychic / Mediums. Reiki classes and privet Reiki session. Oracle & Tarot decks, Psychic lessons. Incense and a whole lot more!”
Also, the Messenger chat window opens when you visit the page and offers a list of standard queries as well as the opportunity to post your own question. This encourages visitor interaction.
Ancient Wisdom is also using Facebook events to promote classes, services and special events.
For their Facebook page, I would suggest a little more personalization and storytelling, with an emphasis on the owners. They should also network more with other similar businesses to boost each other’s marketing efforts.
The business’ Instagram presence (@ancientwisdom.444) is less developed than the Facebook page. Posts are generally a repeat of the visual/photo posts Facebook, with little text. It would benefit greatly from more verbiage and the use of hashtags such as those found in the Facebook “About” section: #crystals, #healing, #meditation, #psychic, #reiki.
It is evident that the two owners have made a start toward social media marketing. They are using the appropriate tools but need some training or guidance on how to better use these tools.
About me: After more than 25 years as an editor of trade publications, I’m now learning social media techniques. I’ll be writing about news, communication, social media and travel as I go through this career transition. Please join me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog, and we’ll chat.
I have worked in the same restaurant for 13 years. For most of that time we have used some form of social media, primarily Facebook and then later Twitter and Instagram. We are told that there are rules for engagement for all social media platforms. We must aim for the “Baby Bear” approach for content and posting, not too much, not too little, it has to be just right! In this new reality, when other forms of customer engagement aren’t possible, are businesses changing the way they interact with customers online? Has the pandemic changed how and when businesses use social media?
Businesses all over the world have been forced to shut their doors to the general public. Online shopping has become the new normal for many businesses and consumers. Some retail are now allowed to open again in Ontario, however a number of them are only at half capacity or by appointment and restaurants remain open for take-out only for the foreseeable future. Either way, social media has become the main form of communication for businesses. Do the old rules still apply? Have businesses changed their approach to social media?
According to Forbes, social media usage is up, not only for individuals but for businesses as well. Businesses are posting 15-20% more on social media than there were pre-Covid. Businesses are also changing how they use it. Social media has become more intimate, more personal, companies are taking the time to engage one-on one with their customers. Things have definitely been headed this way for a while. Marketers have seen the light, feedback and direct contact with customers does improve brand and customer loyalty. Listening to the customer has become the new norm, especially during these uncertain times. Is this something that will persist post pandemic or is it just a way to keep us spending in uncertain times?
Before the Pandemic there were specific times of the day that were seen as most optimal for posting. According to Sprout Social those times have also changed in the last couple of months. People’s routines are different and many are working form home. Where 11am to 1-2pm, somewhere around lunch hour, was previously a sweet spot for posting, it turns out that is has changed to 11am. Even the peak days of the week for social media traffic have shifted.
Most businesses have had to pivot in one way or another over the last few months as the world has changed. It looks like businesses have altered their social media practices in order to conform to new norms. They are posting more, interacting more with consumers and are posting at different times of the day and week in order to keep up with society’s new schedule. Will this be a permanent change in the way we see businesses interacting with customers? Will social media practices continue to pivot as our society adjusts to our new reality?
We are in strange times. Things have changed. The old order is out and the new order is in. Our lives have become considerably different in recent months and it doesn’t seem they will return to ‘normal’ anytime soon. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a large impact on all of our lives and that includes how we interact with social media. Live streaming, that was already on the rise, has gained significant traction in the last few months as we social distance and remain quarantined in our homes. We cannot go out to see our favourite band, orchestra, or dance troupe. All over the world theatres are closed and festivals of all kinds have been cancelled or postponed. As a society we crave entertainment and artists will always seek a platform to show their wares. In our current situation this platform can only be virtual. Many popular social media platforms offer live streaming: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Periscope. https://dustinstout.com/live-streaming-social-media/
Is this move to a virtual arena the new normal?
Many artists have moved to live streaming over the past few months. Musicians are hosting virtual concerts, actors and authors are reading books, comedians are performing stand up, poets reciting poems, dancers dancing etc. We now have a large catalogue of art available for free at the click of a button. Some people include crowdsourcing tools such as GoFundMe or Patreon on their Facebook page or as a link in their bio on Instagram. That is merely a suggested donation not a cover charge or ticket price. By consequence, is live streaming devaluing art or is it just a means to an end in a time where there is no other option for public consumption? Will live streaming change the face of the arts scene forever or bridge a gap for the time being?
Live steaming is probably not going to go away anytime soon. Clearly there is room for both live art and live streaming but the question is, will the popularity of live streaming continue in a post-pandemic world and will it have a lasting impact on how we value, experience and consume art?
Can our consumer based society return to a system where we pay fairly for live entertainment or will free live streaming change the game?
Instagram has become an incredible marketing and advertising tool for countless brands and products. These brands will partner with an “influencer” who shares their target demographic in order to promote certain products. A popular clothing brand partnering with a fashion blogger, a furniture company giving a free dining table to a home decor influencer with millions of followers, promo codes for the latest “collaboration” with your favourite instagram celebrity.
These are all examples of how brands are taking advantage of the millions of people they can reach with a simple “collab”. It truly is a smart way of using the platform, and helps narrow down precise advertising. You don’t have to worry about your product being shown to the wrong audience if you partner with someone who shares your exact target audience.
While this can be incredibly beneficial to brands, there comes a lot of worries as the consumer. Mainly, these influencers who we love, who we respect, who we often identify with, are able to pick exactly what they want to promote to us. Whether it is a good thing or not. The Kardashians have been known to promote “flat tummy tea” as the key to their flat stomachs, all while they have professional trainers and nutritionists. Meaning millions of people see this harmful product, read the quick instagram caption and assume that if they spend $50 on this tea they will get the body of Kourtney Kardasian. Thats what the post is saying, isn’t it?
Therein lies the issue. Influencers are able to use their platforms to present anything they want. Since people see them as authentic and honest, their words hold weight. The products they promote hold weight! Except they are being paid for these opinions so they are not always honest. For a lot of them their brand was built through connecting with their followers and creating relationships. People follow accounts they can identify with, so when an influencer promotes something there is a level of trust assumed. It can be so easy to manipulate that trust in order to sell more or promote more. Authenticity can easily be compromised in order for larger paycheques.
This is not to say that every single advertisement we see on Instagram is filled with lies, there are so many influencers who only partner with brands they believe in. However, it does mean that users need to scroll through the app with a little more discernment.
Influencers need to recognize the power that they have, and need to decide what kind of partnerships they will be making and if they will stay true to their beliefs and opinions. Consumers need to recognize the power influencers have as well, and they need to work hard to decipher if a person is authentic or is just trying to sell something. To assume everyone with a large social media following is going to be honest 100% of the time is not wise. It is wise however to look at things with a little bit of doubt, and to trust your gut! If a post doesn’t feel genuine or on brand, then it most likely isn’t.
What do you think about Influencers ability to advertise? Do you think the authenticity of influencers can be compromised through advertisements?