Social Media needs a new name

hans-vivek-208969Social Media needs a new name.

It isn’t really “social” anymore. It is paid.

In 2012, Facebook began cutting down the number of company followers who would actually see company update. This number went from 16% of followers, down to fewer than 2% of followers. Facebook came up with an algorithm to show users to most relevant posts, and importance was given to family members and friends. Company updates, unfortunately, usually wouldn’t make this cut. Instagram and Twitter, which were both run on providing real-time updates, are also infused with algorithms to show users the most relevant and interesting content.

But here is the irony – relevant and interesting content isn’t good enough anymore. Money has to be brought into the mix, and companies’ abilities to reach followers and provide updates organically has dwindled.

Getting updates in front of users is a huge challenge for companies now, and social media strategies for companies are changing fast. Now, social media is a game that you have to pay to play.

Facebook Taking Over Snapchat?

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Snapchat has been undergoing some changes lately. The company went public a few weeks ago, and Facebook has been doing everything in its power to slowly kill Snapchat off.

Facebook added the “stories” features wherever it could – WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. The next big thing for Facebook to do is to tie the publishing experience into one. All the user has to do is create one story, and publish in many.

Adding stories to Instagram has been a huge blow to Snapchat. Instagram is already much more popular than Snapchat, and their stories features are picking up really fast.

I remember when Instagram Stories first came out, my friends and I were like, “What is this…”. Now, however, I post pictures to my Instagram Story and I have just as many views on it as my Snapchat stories do. For me at least, Instagram stories are really nice for posting artistic pictures of my everyday life, and Snapchat is good for goofy pictures – and lately, I have been placing a lot more importance on sacrificing good “in the moment” time from my life experiences for Instagram than Snapchat.

Only a third of Snapchat users actually use Snapchat’s Story feature, so Facebook has a ton of potential to take over the entire “stories market”. I think that Facebook will be really successful in their fight with Snapchat. Let’s see what happens!

The #Hashtag is Dying

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I remember when hashtags were a big deal. I would see them all over Twitter, and people would tag their Instagram pictures with a crazy number of sometimes very amusing and seemingly mundane hashtags (i.e #boy #girl #food, all in one post). People started actually using the word “hashtag” in their speech and using it on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook too.

The original purpose of the hashtag was to gather discussions and posts regarding one topic so that users all over the world could tune into the conversation. Even to this day, if I want to follow what is trending on Twitter I will just search a particular hashtag to read people’s thoughts and opinions. For me, it is the easiest way of seeing public posts about something, even to look up entertaining things, is to track a hashtag.

Now, however, machine learning called “computer vision” AI (artificial intelligence) has the capability of understanding images and posts through analyzing pixels. This eliminates the need for metadata, hashtags, or captions. This is a very advantageous thing for businesses because it allows them to make the most of their pixels.

Visual recognition will also allow businesses to understand consumer dialogue in a more accurate way. For example, using visual recognition to search “cookie” will bring more precise images of cookies, whereas searching “#cookie” might bring up individual’s pets named “Cookie” or other potentially irrelevant images. Hashtags are a great source of information, but can be cluttered with images and posts that are more subjective and specific to the particular users.

Brands and businesses are more interactive with their consumers than ever before, and this means that they need to sift through relevant information and curate as fast as possible. For example, many brands undergo contests and giveaways. Being able to organize the information that is most relevant to the contest or giveaway is very vital to the business

AI also has the capability to toss out unwanted, dangerous, or explicit information that is not necessary to a business’s core cause.

For businesses, it is in their best interest to invest in AI because hashtags will soon be an outdated and inefficient sorting tool of the past. A great way to do this is to partner with companies that excel in this aspect of technology, such as Clarifai.

The hashtag may go away, but I have a feeling that it will still stick around in casual social media settings. After all, often times all a Tweet needs to go from great to perfect is a #hashtag.

People Who Use Social Media are More Likely to be Lonely

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While social media allows us to build our network and connect to our loved ones, and even to individuals we have just met, new studies show that social media has an adverse effect.

Social media contributes to the fear of missing out or FOMO. Spending long hours on social media also eats up time an individual would have for creating and maintaining meaningful and real relationships. While social media gives the opportunity to fill social voids, it could very much make that hole much deeper. A study at the University of Pittsburg found that people who visit social networks over 58 times a week are three times more likely to feel lonely than those use the sites under nine times.

And I can attest to this. I, and a lot of my friends, have deleted at least one or more social media app on our phone before for “life cleansing” purposes. My mind knew that lives people build of themselves on social media are illusions – no one actually goes on Instagram and posts the latest picture depicting their unhappy relationship with their parents or of their deepest insecurities. Despite knowing that, my heart would still ache a little when I was sitting at home on Friday night while other people I knew were out with their friends, even though I wanted to do nothing more but sit at home on that Friday night. This made me question my own self and whether my priorities or preferences were good enough. I was extremely unhappy.

Then, sophomore year of college, I deleted Snapchat for about six months. It was a wonderful experience. I started enjoying my own life without worrying about posting pictures or looking at what others were doing. With Facebook and Instagram, I developed a healthier relationship because I discovered the value of appreciating your own life and your own choices.

I love that through social media, I can see my family members pictures or keep up with events going on in my community at the University of Georgia. The importance of maintaining a balance, however, is something that is of great significance to me. I have given this advice about social media to friends before, and the ones who went through a cleanse themselves have emerged feeling more content and happy with their own lives.

Emojis Increase Engagement on Instagram

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Words can say so much, but so can a picture – and an emoji.

Emojis have changed the way we communicate with one another. Visual stickers and emoticons have been around for over a decade and are still prevalent on some messaging services such as Facebook messenger. However, the inclusion of emojis in the Apple iPhone, followed by the adoption of variations by Andriod, made emojis the most ubiquitous form of visual communication to date. Additionally, the emoji library is ever-expanding and updates with icons that users want to see (example: Facepalm emoji )

Businesses and individuals alike use emojis in their social media posts. Emojis add personality to post and increase perceived level of friendliness.

On Instagram, more than one-half of all posts included emojis in 2016. The list of top 10 emojis includes the camera emoji, the two pink hearts emoji, and the fire emoji. According to research, Instagram posts without emojis had an engagement rate of 1.77%, and posts with emojis had an engagement rate of 2.07% percent.

Overall, posts with emojis had an increase in absolute interactions. The use of emojis seems to be necessary for the Instagram landscape today.

In my personal posts, I will use emoji every now and then. In my creative business, however, I refrained from using emojis out of fear of sounding unprofessional. I am trying to grow my business and increase awareness of my brand, so it may very well be in my best interest to start using emojis in my best.

A New Match Making App – But for Moms

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” Making friends will be so hard after college.”

Countless post graduates I know, especially individuals who did not go off to graduate school, have told me that. One of the biggest fears [and excitements] that I have about graduating and potentially moving off into a different city is having to build everything from scratch – and this includes friendships.

I have thought about this, having to create new friendships after college. I went from first grade to the senior year of high school with the same group of people, and 80 or so out of 400 kids in class went to UGA. And out of my core group of 6 friends, 5 of us went to the same high school.

I have definitely been in plenty of social situations where I have made new friends, but those were in social situations – classes with peers who are around my age, camps with people who have the same interest as me, and organizations with individuals who have the same passions as me.

But what would happen if I started work and my coworkers were not nice, not relatable, or not interested? What if I am not able to find any MeetUp or similar group that resonates well with me? And what if, when I am raising children, I am so isolated from the rest of the world that I am not able to meet new people at all?

A new app, called “Peanut”, addresses a similar concern that new mothers have: “What if, when I am raising children, I am so isolated from the rest of the world that I am not able to meet new people at all?”

Peanut creates the social situation in which new mothers can meet and mingle. While online forums, yoga classes, and other means of meeting individuals with similar interests and background have been abundant, Peanut’s Tinder-style interface and algorithm make it an efficient and quick way for mothers to chat and meet each other.With cute “badges”, icons, and an option to create group chats even within the app, Peanut is a new social media app that is truly solving

With cute “badges”, icons, and an option to create group chats even within the app, Peanut is a new social media app that is truly solving a problem. Now mothers know that the person they are smiling at and wanting to approach, actually want to be approached.

 

“My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to stay sane”

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This cartoon by David Sipress reflects the mood that many have felt, at one time or another, about the overload of information that social media bombards onto users. There is a constant flow of information, everything from pictures of your friends, to breaking news from China, to new diet trends.

“My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to stay sane.” Speaking from personal experience, I have definitely felt this. As an active Twitter user, I see an incredible array of opinions on a multitude of topics – particularly politics. Especially around the time of the elections, I found myself withdrawing from Twitter and Facebook because these were the two social media outlets that showcased the most opinions. I had to step away because I felt that I was seeing too many biased posts. My misery quotient was increasing with each negative and cynical tweet I saw.

The news media responds to consumers by increasing the emotional appeal of the posts, which means that negativity is emphasized to keep users hooked. And just as it is considered extremely unhealthy to eat too much and to eat too fast, it is unhealthy to consume too much information as well.

The question is then, how is the best way to cope with the quantity and the velocity of news?

Positive News is a website and print magazine that highlights reports that focus on possibility and progress. Since the election, visitors to the website have increased by 93%. Looking into positive news and positive articles have tremendous constructive effects on the mind. Additionally, not looking at the news or Facebook right before bed will prevent  “worrisome thoughts” from disrupting a good night sleep.

There are always ways to find positivity on the web: cat videos, cute puppy pictures, funny vines. Investing more time in the positive posts, rather than the negative news, is good for the soul.