Tag: social media

AVOIDING LONG-TERM DAMAGE DURING A CRISIS

Avoiding long-term damage during a crisis

It’s fair to say that for most of us the novelty of working from home has worn off. There are serious decisions to be made that will impact on the lives of those around us. Uncertainty is causing anxiety and sleepless nights are becoming the norm. That is why we all need to focus on avoiding long-term damage during a crisis.

Business owners could be forgiven for finding these times the most stressful of their careers. Although most companies are facing the same challenges, the difference is how they are handled.

Stop, think, act

The best organisations are those that call upon the varied skills and quirks of colleagues. This means there are a range of personalities within a business to contend with. While during normal times this doesn’t cause too much of a problem, when times are tough these differences will be magnified.

Encouraging everyone within the team to stop, think and then act is just one approach that can dilute potential fallout. The last thing any company needs is for someone to make a rash decision that will have long-term implications.

Calling upon those with the most relevant expertise to lead is likely to deliver a more positive outcome. Carrying on with business as usual simply won’t work.

Communicating clearly

It is important that any company recognises the value in communicating clearly with its audiences. Not only does this gives customers, suppliers and staff the confidence they need, but it also reflects positively on the brand.

Taking the time to think carefully about what is being said and to whom is a good starting point. It is then about delivering these messages consistently and across the relevant channels.

As these are unprecedented times, audiences don’t expect that companies have all the answers. They do however want honesty and transparency. Authenticity is a word that is overused in PR but brands that can communicate in this way will almost certainly be most resilient.

Finding the silver lining

As contracts are cancelled, budgets are cut and staff are furloughed there seems to be no silver lining to this dark cloud.

During a crisis it is often best to say as little as possible and to stick to the facts, however there has never been a situation like this. Most businesses are facing the same challenges at the same time.

Rather than focusing entirely on the negative, use this as an opportunity. Share the values of a business and show what organisations are doing to support others. CSR (corporate social responsibility) is very much front of mind at present, so ensuring that this is communicated is essential.

It may be that employees are standing outside each Thursday and clapping at 8pm. A company could have turned its signage blue in support of the NHS, carers and frontline workers. People may be putting together care packages or supporting neighbours. Whatever a business is doing, it may be of benefit to let others know.

Using social media for the right reasons

In recent years, social media has commonly featured in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It may be trolling, shaming or shared content that was intended to be private. Whatever the situation, social media channels have had their fair share of negative publicity.

That was, until now.

It’s been really enlightening to see social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn used for the right reasons. With light-hearted videos shared by companies and posts offering support, it has been a welcome relief.

Companies can use these examples as best practice and look at ways that they could do the same. As long as these posts are done for the right reasons, they will add personality to a brand and engage with audiences when it matters most.

Calling upon a network

When organisations are faced with a crisis it is often exclusive. This means that they are left to handle the approach, process and consequences alone.

In this instance, everyone is in the same boat. This therefore gives businesses the chance to call upon their networks for help and support. There is no shame in asking for advice and the same can be said for offering it.

Having a company can be isolating and lonely. At times like this it is essential that we all come together and do our best for the benefit of the wider business community. We can then do our best to avoid long-term damage during a crisis.

A focus on the future

While times are tough, we all need to remain focused on the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to get there. It is going to take resilience, solidarity, effort, positivity and mindfulness.

These are all strengths we need to call upon and we will.

In the meantime, we need to communicate consistently, remember our values and try our hardest. Before long, we will get to a point where we can celebrate all that we have achieved when faced with unprecedented adversity.

Summary

Finding ways to be more progressive and to put in place an approach that works best for a business can be a challenge. We would urge any company of any size to consider the following:

  • Stop, think and act
  • Communicate clearly
  • Try to find a silver lining
  • Use social media for the right reasons
  • Call upon your network
  • Focus on the future

We hope that this will provide a starting point and a check list for organisations to work from. No company wants this, however having plans in place can support the present while also pathing the way for a brighter future. Hopefully then we can all work towards avoiding long-term damage during a crisis. For access to information and support about your PR, marketing content and social media please call a member of the team.

SHARING THE SECRETS BEHIND PR

Sharing the secrets about PR

The truth is that when it comes to sharing the secrets behind PR, there aren’t any.

Before I go on, let me make it clear, those working in the profession are specialists and they spend years training but there is no need for a scholarship at Hogwarts.

As an industry, PR suffers from a reputation crisis. Many businesses have been let down by false promises, hidden costs and wasted budgets. They have been offered the earth and when that doesn’t materialise they are left with a document full of excuses.

Unfortunately, this has put many companies off, and rightly so, but the good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case. 

Starting at the beginning

All businesses can benefit from PR. This isn’t a statement, it’s a fact.

Whatever the industry or product, there can be a clear rationale made for engaging with staff, customers and / or suppliers. Furthermore, it is really important that companies share their values, approach and where possible, the reason for their existence.

If people are to part with their hard earned money, they want to better understand where their purchases come from. This isn’t necessarily about food miles, but more about the philosophy of an organisation and what it stands for.

Setting a strategy

Clearly, not every business is the same, and the objectives for putting a communications strategy in place will be different. This is one of the benefits of PR; it can be shaped around any organisation whether business to business, business to consumer or third sector.

The other thing to consider is who will be involved in developing the strategy and delivering it. There needs to be clear ownership and input. PR isn’t something that will just happen, it needs to be managed and driven.

A seat around the boardroom table

PR needs to take a seat around the boardroom table. There is no point in making the investment – of time or resource – if putting a strategy into practice is not going to be taken seriously. If PR remains a nice to have then it simply won’t work.

Finding those within the business that have a natural affinity or passion for communication will take some of the pressure off. Giving these individuals additional responsibility and set performance indicators to work towards will keep PR on the agenda.

Discussing the tactics that have worked and those that haven’t with the senior management team will reinforce the importance of PR and what it can deliver.

Sharing the excitement

As a business function, when PR works well, it is difficult for people not to notice. It may be coverage in a newspaper, on the radio or even TV. It could be a newsletter, a blog, social media posts or an internal communication programme.

Whatever the objective, getting excited by the results that can be achieved through PR is fundamental to its success. A further benefit is that once one element of the plan is working, it can evolve and additional actions can be added.

Not enough time in the day

It’s easy to default to this assumption. There just simply isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that is required and PR isn’t a priority.

Well, it should be.

How a company communicates will influence the behaviour of its customers. There are few other specialisms that can make this kind of impact. PR is just as important as the quality of a product or service, which should ensure that it remains on the agenda.

When organisations recognise the real value of PR it can be transformative and that is why setting aside the time is so important.

Relying on the specialists

For those that really don’t have the time and cannot find any available resource within the business, the alternative is to turn to the specialists.

As a Wakefield based PR agency we work with businesses of all sizes. As well as delivering a year-round PR, communications and content strategy for our clients, we also deliver training. This gives smaller organisations the tactics, tools and techniques they need to put the theory into practice.

For those that want to explore PR, content marketing and social media further, please do give us a call or email.

 

WAR OF THE WAGS AND A PR CRISIS IN THE MAKING

It’s the debacle that’s had many of us glued to our devices. When Coleen Rooney waged war on Rebekah Vardy for allegedly selling stories about her to The Sun newspaper, people grabbed the popcorn and settled down to enjoy the latest celeb showdown.

Providing the nation with a welcome distraction from Brexit, this comparably light-hearted performance offered a break from the doom and gloom which has dominated the headlines of late.

While I’m not entirely sure what to tell you about Brexit, we can certainly share a lesson or two about public statements, crises and dealing with the media.

Timing is everything

Considering the timing of a statement, press release or media product drop is essential if the message is to be interpreted as intended.

In Coleen’s case, the statement was posted the day before World Mental Health Day. An extremely risky move to say the least. Notable dates have a significant influence on the media agenda and will determine content, so it’s prudent to be mindful.

With mental health in the headlines, the topic was bound to be front of mind with both journalists and their readers. As a result, the timing and nature of Coleen’s statement offered the perfect angle for a journalist to discuss the potential impacts on Vardy’s mental health.

While Coleen appears to have avoided such an issue on this occasion, this could very easily have been a PR crisis in the making.

Consider the wider impact

Whether intentional or not, the behaviour of celebrities influences the actions of others. This kind of public ‘performance’ brings with it a certain level of responsibility and if people are not careful, accountability too.

As prolific users of social media, it’s no surprise that young people are amongst those particularly engrossed in the activities of those in the public eye.  Being followers of the latest trends, children take cues about how to behave from those that they idolise. As a result, there’s no doubt that this method of ‘public shaming’ will be replicated in schools, with potentially disastrous consequences.

What’s more, although it’s entirely understandable that Coleen would feel betrayed – assuming the allegations are true, taking revenge so publicly is precarious territory.

After all, Coleen’s family have endured their fair share of hurtful headlines. The fact is, however guilty Rebekah may or may not be, the implications of exposing a story such as this not only has repercussions for the alleged perpetrator, but also for their family too.

Fact check, and check again

Though Coleen’s investigative techniques have impressed her fans, there are some obvious flaws. Narrowing the possible leak down to just one account, may be rather damning, but what about the people, other than reporters, that Rebekah may have shared the news with?

The truth is, she could just be guilty of being a gossip, who has naively divulged information about Coleen to her friends. And, let’s face it, she wouldn’t be the first person to share a screen shot of someone’s story in a group chat!

For her friends, who may not be in the public eye or have the salary of a football player at their disposal, the lure of a quick buck from a willing red top tabloid may have proved too much.

Of course, there’s also the question of whether Coleen herself has shared her plans with others. A trusted friend or family member could quite easily be the culprit. However unlikely that seems, I’m sure she wouldn’t be the first person to be betrayed in such a way.

Should Coleen’s conclusions turn out to be incorrect, there are bound to be some very red faces and incredibly serious repercussions for her own reputation. Ensuring, without a shadow of a doubt, that any statement is factually correct is absolutely essential.

Plan ahead

Every good PR plan should incorporate an element of crisis planning.

By exploring and identifying areas that could become stumbling blocks, a pro-active PR plan can be put in place to address issues in a timely manner, should they ever arise.

However, it’s always worth remembering that no matter how well prepared you are, it isn’t always possible to see a crisis coming, which is why having professionals on hand to manage a crisis situation can be invaluable.

Navigating unfamiliar territory without professional support is extremely unwise and could have lasting repercussions for your brand or business.

Summary

Reputation takes a long time to build and only a short time to ruin, which is why leaving this important aspect to chance is a perilous strategy.

Making statements to the media is a serious business. Unfortunately, once something has been said so publicly, it is very difficult to take back. That’s why it is important to get it right the first time.

Working in PR involves being cautious, taking time to plan and having a wider understanding of issues that impact upon a brand or business.

Utilising the skills of those who are qualified to advise on issuing statements, press releases or managing a PR crisis is essential if your number one asset, your hard-earned reputation, is to remain intact.

LOVING LINKEDIN

Lindsey Davies LinkedIn

I have to admit I’m loving LinkedIn. I’ve had a bit of crush on the platform for some time now. I like the fact that it is a social channel that has a definitive audience with a clear purpose.

There have been some fall outs over the years, as people have posted personal updates and others have made it their mission to ‘police’ the professional platform. However, I still feel it is a positive space to connect with others.

It is now very much a ‘go to’ for recruiters and individuals to showcase their talents, achievements and expertise.

Leaving the trolls behind

The conversations on LinkedIn focus on finding new contacts and sharing work-based content with a network that you have pre-approved. In order to share with someone, you first must make them a connection. This limits the amount of spam and unsolicited messages you receive.

As well as ensuring the information you access is interesting and relevant, this approach also leaves the trolls at the door. Twitter has become a breeding ground for bad behaviour, which requires governance and endless monitoring. In contrast, LinkedIn is able to build its credibility as a platform of choice for business.

Simple and effective

One of the first things I do each morning is scan through my LinkedIn feed. There is always an abundance of content and it varies depending on who has posted. Given the industry I work in, there is no consistency about who I follow; if I find a person or brand interesting then I will follow or connect.

It’s not unusual for me to wake up to someone posting an amazing view from a run or a report that looks at category insight about a given market. Both give me a reason to read, consider and reflect.

Posting to LinkedIn is simple and accessing a profile from the app has improved over the years. Reiterating it as a tool of choice for companies, at most events there is an option to scan a name badge and connect with someone through a QR code.

Not only does this reiterate the importance of LinkedIn for individuals and organisations but it also showcases how easy it is to use.

Posts and articles

What I like most about LinkedIn is the articles. As someone that writes for a living this will come as no surprise. What appeals to me most is that I can share my thoughts and opinions while also receiving clear analytics.

Unlike some social media channels, LinkedIn has the credibility that comes from relying on people to input their own professional information. This leads to fewer dormant or ‘fake’ accounts and more people that genuinely want to connect and converse.

Knowing those that I am connected with means that when someone leaves a comment or likes my article I will respond. This then leads to genuine and meaningful discussion. There is no harm in having a point of view and I find LinkedIn a more balanced place to do this.

I try to share an article at least once a month and have mixed them up a bit recently. Some focus on business and others are more personal. I don’t feel there is any harm in this as the objective is the same; people get to learn more about me and the way that I work.

Making the most of company pages

As an agency we manage company pages for our clients and provide advice and guidance on personal profiles. For me, once your profile is updated, it’s all about posting regular updates and spending five to ten minutes liking other information you have found useful.

I have met lots of people that have explained how they ‘don’t know how to do LinkedIn’ but the truth is that you don’t have to. The platform does much of it for you and will guide you through the steps to becoming an ‘All Star’.

You can then take your time working out the rest and can pay to become a premium member if you choose.

As well as updating your status, it is important to remember your company page. This is a reflection of your business to the outside world and gives employees a chance to share their thoughts and feelings about an organisation.

With this comes an authenticity that is rarely found elsewhere. Although company pages can be monitored and posts can be removed, they are often a true indication of the culture at a company. This is reflective of employees and what they share.

It is also a fantastic tool for building an employer brand and encouraging the best talent to your organisation. After all, if you employees are sharing the positives about your business, you don’t have to.

Grouping together

You can also join groups on LinkedIn, comment on articles and share links to external web pages that could add some value for those that are following you.

Again, the beauty about LinkedIn for me is that it is simple, effective and professional.

As someone that isn’t looking for a change of career or a new job, some people may ask why I bother with the platform. The truth is I know that many of my contacts visit the site and access the content that I share. As such, like any social channel, it is a valuable way for me to share news from the business.

Engaging with groups isn’t something I do as often as I should. I am a member of some groups but prefer to use them to read articles or links that are shared as opposed to creating relationships that are exclusively online.

One group I have been a member of for years is the Yorkshire Mafia. I joined because I thought it sounded interesting and slightly controversial. More importantly, the philosophy of the group that we are ‘stronger together’ also stood out for me.

With 22,000 pre-approved members it has a strong following and has been commended as one of the most productive groups on LinkedIn. I would recommend that anyone who just wants to join a positive and informative community of people takes the time to join.

Making the time

As with everything, updating LinkedIn takes time and any post that you share will be potentially available to world. So, while it may be easy to update your status, the same rules apply as to any channel.

My recommendation would be to set aside five or ten minutes a day and to review the content on your feed before liking, sharing and then updating your own status.

It doesn’t have to take hours and shouldn’t become a chore. If you set out with the mindset that it is part of your business processes, and a way to access information you may otherwise never have come across, then you lead with the benefits.

Looking to the future

I’m not sure what the future holds for LinkedIn. It is certainly a recruiters’ dream, and I can see why. Some of the updates I have had access to from the company, such as insights, have been developed with this audience in mind but there will be others in the pipeline.

Given I started this by saying I’m loving LinkedIn, I urge people to use the space to listen, learn and share. Given the updates that have been made to the functionality over the last year, I would expect further exciting features and updates are yet to come.

Only time will tell, but I believe LinkedIn has a great opportunity to take ownership and become the social channel for business. Whether a competitor comes along is to be debated, but it will take something special to catch my eye.

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT INFLUENCER FOR YOUR BRAND

It is common knowledge that leveraging influencers can help drive brand awareness and reach a wider audience. But the process of selecting the ‘right’ influencer is not an easy task.

Amongst the clutter and noise on social media, it is becoming increasing difficult to recognise credible influencers who can truly add value to a business. And while influencer marketing can be a great strategy to strengthen a brands online presence, when done incorrectly it can also have detrimental effects.

So, before diving into the lucrative world of #sponsored posts, here is a 3-step guide that can help ease the process.

 

1 – Recognise the different types of influencers available

The internet is home to a plethora of social media superstars. Before agreeing to work with any of them, take the time to understand the different types of influencers available.

Typically, influencers are categorised based on the number of followers they have.

Mega-influencers: 1M+ Followers

Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, are all examples of mega-influencers. They are established celebrities who can help your brand gain recognition on a global scale. Of course, they demand a hefty fee, with some charging upwards of £800,000 per sponsored post.

Macro-influencers: 100K – 1M Followers

Usually macro-influencers are those that gained recognition through the internet itself. Such as vloggers and bloggers who rose to fame by building a follower base over time. Similar to mega-influencers, they can be very expensive to work with. But for businesses with a substantial marketing budget this is an effective way to increase brand awareness to a mass market FAST.

Micro-influencers: 1K – 100K Followers

A micro-influencer as opposed to others has a significantly lower number of followers. Typically, they focus on a specific niche and so are more suited for brands that want to target a certain type of customer. Unlike the other two, micro-influencers charge considerably less and maintain an extremely loyal fan base.

Nano-influencers: Less than 1K Followers

They are comparable to a start-up business. This type of influencer tends to have very little to no experience of working with brands. Despite having a small audience, nano-influencers attract a high engagement rate as they are most relatable for consumers. More often than not, they will accept products in return for social media coverage.

 

2 – Check for fake followers

As influencers battle for the social media spotlight, some can be tempted into buying fake followers. This black hat tactic can instantly grow an influencers audience from a few to thousands.

This is a huge problem on Instagram, where advertisement is becoming more and more important. Users can even buy interactions such as likes and comments from fake profiles to give a false impression of high engagement.

Collaborating with influencers whose followers and engagement is not genuine is not only a waste of time but can essentially be detrimental to a brands integrity. Fortunately, there are several online tools and programs available for detecting fakes.

 

3 – Identify any risks and red flags

Followers and engagement play a significant part when identifying the most appropriate influencers for a campaign. But, what’s equally important is reviewing the influencers social media channels to check for any red flags.

In today’s media landscape, nothing is ever private, especially on the internet! This is especially true for influencers who are constantly under the social media microscope. From inappropriate personal thoughts to controversial opinions and pictures, everything is visible.

So, before approaching an influencer, it is absolutely vital to make sure that ALL of their social media channels are thoroughly reviewed, and any risks are immediately identified.

Ultimately, influencers have the power to make or break a brands reputation. Finding the right person is less about who’s trending or has the highest number of followers and more about finding someone who represents your brands personality and values.

 

Influencers are certified social media butterflies and experts in creating engaging content who can help bridge the gap between a brand and its target customers. Working with them is an effective method to drive awareness.

If you are thinking of switching from traditional advertising to influencer collaborations remember to do the leg work and to make the choices that will deliver the value you are expecting.

 

HORTOR CHOOSES OPEN COMMS AS PREFERRED PR PARTNER

Hortor and Open Communications

Hortor, the global strategic resourcing consultancy with UK offices in Leeds and London, has chosen Open Communications, the straight-talking PR agency, to manage the brands content strategy across traditional and social media channels.

Having worked on an initial project to update the company website and provide recommendations regarding social media and content marketing, Hortor has agreed a year-round programme of activity that will be delivered by the agency.

Reporting consistent growth since its launch in 2014 and with ambitious targets for the next twelve months and beyond, Open Comms will focus on raising the profile of Hortor, its specialist divisions and the world-class clients that it works with.

Joint CEO of Hortor, Andy Roe, comments: “In the first instance Open Communications were recommended to us by a business associate that has worked with the agency for years. We needed support with the copy writing on our website and a few other projects and so felt it was the right time to engage a team that could give us some specialist support.

“Open quickly became an extension of our team and we are very much looking forward to working with them as we roll-out our year-round programme of activity.”

Director at Open Communications, Lindsey Davies, comments: “Hortor are a great fit for us. As well as being ambitious, the business has a great culture and is not afraid of doing things differently. We are looking forward to taking insight from the team and using this to create compelling content that we can share.

“As experts within their industry, we want to make sure that we reiterate the knowledge from the team and position them as the growing and global organisation that they are.”

Hortor has made a number of appointments in recent months with colleagues joining both the Leeds and London offices. Further plans to expand internationally to support its global network are also underway, with no fewer than four launches scheduled in the next year.

Open Communications is celebrating ten years in business throughout 2019 with plans to move to a new office in Wakefield city centre. The agency is preferred PR partner for a range of brands including Opus Trust Communications, Ring, The Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Martin Walsh Architecture and Bellingham IT.

For further details about Hortor and its approach to strategic global resourcing please visit www.hortor.co.uk and for information about the services we provide for clients please visit, https://www.opencomms.co.uk/what-we-do.

Ends

 

TEN REASONS TO INVEST IN PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Businesses don’t have the budgets, resource or understanding to warrant an investment in PR. It’s too complicated and difficult to measure. Anyone can cobble together a press release or upload a blog. There are bigger priorities and better ways to spend money.

Really?

Here are ten simple reasons why you really should consider PR and what impact it could have on your organisation.

1. Reputation

Despite many changes to the industry over the years, PR remains the specialism that is used to manage the reputation of a business. Some people feel that this sounds too flaky. Consider driving a car without insurance or riding a motorbike without a helmet. The risks are too high. As your reputation is arguably your biggest asset, it should be a priority.

2. Profile

Just because you know about your business it doesn’t mean others do too. Furthermore, if you are considering infiltrating new markets then you will be starting from scratch. You may have the products, service and reputation however you are still new to this audience. Using PR to build your profile in the right places can be very effective.

3. Employer brand

We hear a lot about skills gaps and a lack of talent. If you want to attract the best people to your business, then you need to share details about what it is like to work for you. Using PR to update a company blog and social media tools, such as LinkedIn and twitter, is a good place to start. Adding personality to your content will allow you to attract the people that are a better fit for your business.

4. Website visitors

Over the years the remit of what constitutes PR has broadened. Content marketing has become a big business. If you want to get the most from your website you should be writing regular articles, blog posts and news items. Content should also include relevant inbound and outbound links to attract prospects. Paying thousands for a website doesn’t mean it will work for you.

5. New business

PR will help you to attract new business. No, the phone won’t start ringing off the hook as soon as you implement some of the tactics, but you will notice a change. People will become more receptive and they will talk about you more. There is no greater marketing platform than word of mouth, so make sure you are doing what you can to encourage the right message is shared. This is one of the reasons why story telling is so important.

6. Crisis

No one wants a crisis to happen, but the simple fact is, they do. If you are unprepared then expect the worst. Trying to fumble through a media storm while the phones are ringing relentlessly, and journalists are on deadline chasing for statements, is nothing short of a nightmare. Don’t leave this to chance, it could lead to lasting and irreparable damage. Having the processes and procedures in place will make all the difference.

7. Competition

So, despite points one to six you still think PR is a waste of time and money. That’s absolutely fine. Leave it to your competitors to share their story, raise their profile, manage their communications and reap the rewards and benefits as a result.

8. Cost effective

PR isn’t cheap but when compared to other specialisms within the marketing mix it is cost effective. Given the importance of the tactics that fall under a PR remit, it is a constant frustration that it is the forgotten relative, but that’s the way it is. Some of the largest brands in the world have relied heavily on PR and it has delivered for them time and time again. Think Virgin and Innocent Drinks. They used PR to establish and build brands that made them millions.

9. Flexibility  

With PR you don’t have to sign up to everything in one go. It’s not a single product off a shelf. You could start with a basic press office and then evolve the plans as you go. In fact, this is the best approach. Not only does this mean you can carefully measure the return on your investment, you can also better understand exactly what is happening and why.

10. Return on investment

There is no point in denying it, measuring the absolute impact of PR can be a challenge because the reasons for purchase will differ for every consumer. What we can be certain of is that having a PR programme in place will allow you to manage your message, engage in the right places, target the correct audiences and take some control of the conversation. Millions of businesses across the world haven’t got it wrong, they invest because they see the value.

Back to where we started

And so, we are back to where we started. The first step is to think very carefully about your business and what you want to achieve now and in years to come. PR may not be a priority but consider what it could do for your organisation.

Nothing will change if you continue the way you are going, and perhaps that should be one of the biggest concerns that you have.

For more information about how we work with our clients at Open Communications please visit the What We Do pages here.

SOCIAL MEDIA: WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels more than a little duped every time I check in to the other realm and review one of the many social media channels that are available to us.

In fact, I’m quite convinced that many of the people who appear to live their entire lives on said platforms are effectively residing in a parallel universe. You see, when I bump into them in the street, they certainly do not reflect the image that they are falsely portraying to me, MI5 or anyone else who might happen to take a glimmer of interest in their profile.

While a ‘photo-shopped-within-an-inch-of-its-life’ photo is probably a great tactic for those who are evading a life of crime, it’s hard not to despair about the ideals that this sets for the rest of us mere mortals.

What’s more, as the photos continue to blur so too does the line between reality and how we portray our lives online. After all, most of us know that the filtering doesn’t just stop at images; our whole internet existence is governed by a different type of filter which influences what parts of our lives we share on the web.

Life through a filter

Though some photo enhancements might be obvious, when it comes to extracting the true picture it’s far more difficult than we could ever have previously imagined. Not only have we become accustomed to sharing our best angles, we also seem to have been conditioned to put on a brave face, sharing only the best parts of our lives with others.

Our holiday snaps don’t show the rain that blighted what was meant to be a relaxing beachside break or the hotel that wasn’t deemed ‘instagrammable’ enough. Instead, we project only the most jealousy inducing, picture perfect views, which, in the most part, have little to do with our real, everyday lives.

Fantasy or reality?

Having started primarily as a way to get to know one another better and to share memories with friends old and new, it’s hard not to feel that the purpose of social media has changed somewhat during its relatively short life span.

Now, rather than a place to show our true selves and update friends and family across the globe, it could be argued that our online lives are a form of escapism which offers a place to be whatever we please, with little to no restrictions.

When reality hits

Just as quickly as perfection took over, thank goodness there appears to be another, far more realistic trend in town. Taking things a step further than ‘#nofilter’ which continues to do the rounds, ‘social media vs reality’ has taken the online world by storm.

Leading the way with messages of body positivity and a rejection of the principles that have plagued our social media existences for so long, this movement is starting to gain real momentum.

Finally, the array of airbrushed, moody selfies are interspersed with those that celebrate something far closer to reality. Bare-faced shots showing blemished complexions, natural images that put stretch marks in the spotlight and people of all shapes and sizes ‘living their best lives’ signal a break from the conventions that have dictated what’s accepted as relevant online.

Doing it for the ‘gram’

Although I’m reluctant to be cynical about what appears to be a positive development in attitudes to what should be shared, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues or whether it’s just another elaborate example of a very real issue being exploited for the purpose of ‘likes’.

For the sake of the next generation, I really hope it represents a future where we can all be a little more authentic.