Think before you share

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One thing I have noticed a lot recently online and in social media, is how quickly and easily people share things, without giving it much thought. People will stumble across a post, photo or video, then quickly decide they like it and hit the share button. Without much knowledge of where the post came from or who was behind it, they are happy to associate it with their name and their feed, showing friends that they either like or support it.

A not very discerning audience

This isn’t a revelation by any means and this means that many organisations are cashing in on it. People and companies know the social media audience isn’t very discerning, so with a well thought out idea they can promote themselves easily to millions by people sharing it on their feeds. People my have compelling and interesting arguments to promote, but if you don’t research it you won’t know how true, how real or how valid what you are sharing actually is.

The way social media seems to work these days is that someone posts something, people start sharing it, the news starts reacting to it and then a day later people report on social media and the news on how fake or invalid it is. Myself personally I would prefer to wait before sharing something I liked, to let this timeline play out and to do my own research.

Popularity doesn’t equal quality

Just because millions of others have shared or liked something it doesn’t mean the item is quality, it might just mean that millions of people have fallen in to the trap of not checking the back story.

One thing I don’t like is when companies or organisations with a bad reputation or that do horrendous things, then post images that they know people will share, like patriotic things for instance, which in themselves are harmless just to get people to share. They know that when people share, people don’t first click on their page to find out what they are about and when you have already hit the share button it’s too late.

An instant world

Social media is an instant medium but it doesn’t mean we have to turn in to instant and impulsive people. There are many people out there who prey on the fact that the audience is sadly like that and take advantage of it, so the only way not to be taken advantage of online is to take your time and think things through.

By sharing things you run the risk of promoting something you would never promote in real life and promoting something at the expense of your reputation and standing. Social media also has such an impact on the way we think about the world around us and view the stories we read about in the news, so by sharing something you could be influencing the way people think about something, so use that power wisely.

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Getting the world talking

In today’s social media age it has never been easier to get the world talking about something. Sadly we don’t call it getting the world talking any more, we call it trending. The question I want to pose today though is this: Do companies know the difference between trending and engagement?

Having millions of people posting at the same time about something, is really cool, but if no one is talking about it 12 hours later, what did it matter and what did it change? The real gauge of interest isn’t how many people post online using the right hashtag or click a link; the real gauge of interest is what action people take about something that is trending.

What to believe

The other problem we have in social media land now, is not knowing what to believe. When you see a post online you don’t know whether someone has been paid to put it up, has paid to make it more visible compared to other posts or if the person posting is a real account and not a robot or a fake alias. On social media, popularity is for sale and anyone can pay to make a topic, an event or a company trend.

When I log on to Facebook I always look at what is trending and it is a function that has made me aware of things that I hadn’t picked up on in the news. It is sad though that I think one day, what is trending will be the news and we will be more interested in what is trending, than we are traditional news. I think more and more that trending is how we find out about the stories of the world around us and I too am guilty of that, but that just shows how much of a powerful tool it can be.

Importance of Trending

Because of the importance put on getting things to trend, it ramps up the pressure. There seems to be a badge of honour that comes with getting something to trend and when it does trend, people then can’t wait to let people know that their stories trend.

The longer we digest social media in this way continues, the more competition there will be to be trending and all I can see that doing, is meaning on average that items will trend for even shorter periods than they do now, so it will turn in to a case of blink and you will miss it.

Slow down

Just because the online world moves fast, it doesn’t mean that it is always a good thing. If you are involved in putting content online you should want longevity in your content. When I look at stats for this blog, how many people view an article on the day it publishes doesn’t bother me, what I am interested in is how my posts from last year are doing, as that is the test of timeless content. The other stats I am interested in are – how many people comment, follow, like and click through to other articles after reading their first one.

My advice to the online community is – let’s stop worrying about the moment and think about the lifetime.

You wouldn’t say that to someone’s face

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The invention of social media has a lot to answer for at times. On platforms like Twitter, people seem to think it is acceptable to tweet horrible messages to others for everyone to see, with no second thought on how it is going to make the person they are directed at feel. Because people don’t have to give out their address or personal information on Twitter, people feel they can post anything without the fear of reprisal or getting in trouble as Twitter struggles to police its users due to the volume of offensive tweets being sent out every minute.

Notoriety

What is even worse on Twitter is the mob mentality, people are not only tweeting horrible things to get at people, they are also doing it to get noticed and notoriety as people seem to like favouritng and retweeting offensive things because they see it as funny that someone has the bravery to post it. If only more people clicked the report button, than the retweet button Twitter would be a much better place.

On Twitter people feel they have to react to things they don’t like or people they don’t like by tweeting them back something abusive, offensive or negative. It seems on Twitter that people just can’t let things go and not rise to things that are being said. The best way to shut something down is to not react, as I’m sure most people are posting on Twitter to get a reaction, so if you don’t react they will get bored before long.

Respect

If you have a problem with someone, the best way to deal with them is to talk to them directly and in private. I have respect for anyone who is able to work out their problems in this way. Sorting out a problem with someone shouldn’t be about damaging them or embarrassing them.

Some people think tweets can change the world and take to the platform to attack companies who they think have done them wrong in some way. One thing I have to say to those people is that I don’t think someone with a Twitter account scares big companies. If you have a real problem with a company, do something about it and do something better with your time than just tweeting them everyday.

Making it up

I hate that on Twitter you can make anything up you like about people or companies, tweet it and it is then up there for everyone to see. Sadly too many people read what they see on Twitter and believe it. Not everything that is tweeted is true and if someone is posting unsubstantiated claims it is probably because their actual argument is quite week.

Having the ability to access Twitter anywhere in the world we are, at any time, thanks to the phone in our hands means that not many people think before tweeting and instead of thinking about what is happening they are thinking of the best thing they can tweet. So when you are out and about in the future why not see what changes when you keep the phone in your pocket rather than rushing to tweet about life.

How social media has blurred and damaged relationships

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How much time do you spend talking to people online? How much time do you spend looking at peoples pages and feeds? When scrolling down your newsfeed to do you linger longer on some people’s updates more than others?

I think these are all important questions, that anyone using social media needs to ask themselves. For many people the real world isn’t enough and social media is treated as another life for them, which they think is better than the real world away from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Some people now look forward to getting on social media more than they do spending time with those around them.

Constantly logging on

I use social media and I am the first to put my hand up that I use it too much. I tend to however just use it for promoting things and sharing news, rather than talking to people on it. I think it is dangerous when you are constantly logging on to see if you have a notification and to see if someone has messaged you back. I get how it can be exciting, but when we start thinking that it is more exciting than what’s happening around us, I think it is a very sad place to be.

When you start your day thinking of something to say to someone on social media that is not communicating or having a conversation, as real conversations should come easy with real friends. Conversations shouldn’t be about just saying something to get noticed and that’s what I think social media is at times – a place for attention seekers wanting to be noticed.

Getting carried away

I think for some people it is too easy to get carried away on social media and let their thoughts get carried away. Sometimes I think people try to hard to get peoples attention and misinterpret feelings when someone pays them attention. People think it is ok to get carried away, as it isn’t real life and they may not ever meet the people they are talking with. I think it is important to always try and read the signs on social media when someone might be paying you too much attention or when you are paying someone too much attention and be wise enough to do something about it.

When social media is getting in the way of work or home life, I think your use of it is out of balance. My message for anyone who uses social media is – don’t take your home life for granted, just because it is always going to be there don’t treat it like it’s not the most important thing.

Secretive

If you are secretive about your use of social media, or if you only use it when away from your friends and family then you need to start asking yourself why you do this and you need to be honest with yourself.

In this modern age I think social media is the biggest destroyer and creator of relationships. We need as a generation to be able to build relationships and keep relationships without social media. Social media should be treated as another way to communicate and we should behave in the same way as we would with human interaction. When you spend more time talking to people on social media than off it, I think life is out of balance.

Don’t let yourself be fooled in to thinking life is better on social media than it is away from it. The most important investment you can make is in those people around you, those people who are in your life and those that you don’t just talk to on social media.

I’m a Eurovision fan and I don’t care

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For many years there seems to have been a stigma around the people who look forward to and enjoy watching Eurovision. Some people seem to look down their nose at others who enjoy this annual cultural phenomenon. Watching Eurovision seems to be beneath some people and many people think it is embarrassing.

I think by not getting over themselves, many people are missing out on a fun night of TV entertainment and that is what the Eurovision is.

I do not watch Eurovision for the following things:

Quality music
Fair voting
Expecting the UK to win

I watch it for these things:

Entertainment
Comedy
To banter on twitter about it

I feel sorry for those countries that aren’t able to watch Eurovision on TV, although I was surprised by the number of countries who aren’t represented at Eurovision, but who still watch it. I love TV programmes, especially live events, when you know lots of people in the country are watching at the same time as you, it breeds a shared experience feeling and this is when I think TV is at its best.

An extravaganza

The Eurovision is a spectacular TV event with some amazingly high production values. The staging, lighting and presentation are impeccable. These are the reasons to me why it doesn’t matter who wins or loses. To me it’s not a competition, it’s entertainment and who wins isn’t important. I love seeing what acts other countries have sent to the competition and what people are saying about them, the more random the act, the more I enjoy it.

I never feel patriotic during the event, probably got something to do with knowing the UK will never win but I do feel proud of the diverseness of the Eurovision zone. Yes the Eurovision has it’s own area, as not all entries are from Europe as it is normally defined.

Our way of doing it

The UK may never win the competition, but I think we must win the best presentation of the event, which to me is the most important thing. Graham Norton’s commentary throughout the event is priceless and always has me in stitches, as did his predecessor Terry Wogan. The UK sense of humour coupled with the Eurovision is a winning combination.

The Eurovision is on my list of events that I would love to go to at some point in my life, so I hope that one year I do get to witness it live, as when watching at home it seems like such a fun party atmosphere in the arena. For now though I will settle for drinking games, house parties and twitter on my phone to enjoy the event with.

Getting Your Voice Heard

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I think it is easier today than it ever was before to share our opinion with the world. A post, a tweet, an email, a status, a blog, there are now many ways that we can instantly share how we are feeling, our opinions and our thoughts with anyone who wants to read them.

Back just twenty years ago there weren’t these opportunities that we have today to communicate with the world around us. To complain about a newspaper article you would have to write a letter and post it, now you can post a comment online underneath the article. To complain to a company about poor service you would have to phone them up or go to the business premises, now you can tweet them or message them on Facebook and get a response.

If you had an opinion about something it used to be a case of just verbalising them with your friends and family, now you can write a blog or post them on social media to start conversation. Your opinion can then quickly get exposure to millions of people you will never meet and before you know it people are talking about it.

It’s a jungle out there

The problem we have though is that because there are so many people, trying to share so many opinions, it is so easy for them to get lost in the jungle, which is the online world. Sharing your thoughts is very easy now but trying to gain an audience, I believe is harder than ever. For a thought or opinion to make a difference it needs an audience and a pretty big audience to make an impact.

When you have an audience, you then need the right people in your audience. Online there are so many automated, bot and spam accounts, you never know how many actual people are reading your words. There is a huge difference between viewing and reading. So many people just scroll through their social media newsfeeds, just scanning and not actually reading, that many people will just scroll on past what you are trying to share with the world.

Real world engagement

For your voice truly to be heard you need real world engagement, not online engagement. A like or a favourite on social media isn’t going to get your voice heard. What will get your voice heard is someone reading what you type, taking it on board and doing something about it in the real world.

Don’t think just because something you said got a bunch of retweets that it is making a difference. With social media and the Internet the term ‘5 minutes of fame’ must have been taken down to ‘a few seconds of fame.’ What trends this morning probably won’t this afternoon.

If you’ve got an opinion that you want the world to hear, don’t get complacent with it. Couple your opinion with some action and keep going with it. Make sure you are talking to the right people, not just anyone. One right person hearing your thoughts and opinions can be worth more than a million of the wrong ones.

Share what you want to share

I would encourage everyone to share what they have a burning passion to share, just make sure you are always aware of you are sharing it with. Just because we have the ability to share so easily these days lets not get lazy with it, as I think in todays world it is even harder to stand out, as with this new power at our finger tips everyone is at it.

I think social media is too much about encouraging us to have our own personal accounts and I think this just leads to more isolation. I think it is more important than ever to actually work with people and band together. It’s a big world out there online and just because you are a member it doesn’t always mean you are connected or feel connected.

The blurred world of TV personalities and social media

Regular readers of the blog will know I am a big fan of football. Last night I was watching the FA Cup Match between AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool on the BBC. Like many fans, whilst watching games I will normally be on Twitter making comments on the game and seeing what other people are saying about the game.

The host for the programme was Gary Lineker and during the game whilst he wasn’t on camera he was tweeting from his personal Twitter account. One of his tweets contained a swear word which he later then blamed on auto-correct. No one will ever know besides Gary if he did tweet the swear word intentionally or not but I think it does raise an interesting situation.

Gary is paid a salary by the BBC, which is funded by License Fee paying members of the general public. He like anybody else has the right to have their own Twitter account and tweet their own views. On top of this I know Twitter is a great platform to promote TV shows as well, so I think it is good that TV personalities use their own following to drum up support and viewers for a show.

With all that said though, I do think when you are working you are representing the company you work for during that period of time. I am sure there are policies about swearing on air but do TV companies and the like have policies about engaging with social media whilst live on air?

I think what you say on twitter should be treated the same as if you were to say something out loud. I think in many ways we have wised up to that as a world with the police getting involved in trolling, bullying and threats made on social media. Celebrities need to be more careful than most on Twitter as they have so much to lose with an accidental or mistaken tweet.

If someone is tweeting from their own personal twitter account whilst working are they increasing their own brand and awareness whilst being paid to do a job? If so is this right? Should the employer have the right to stop people from tweeting whilst working or have control over what they are tweeting?

Many people in all kinds of lines of work will tweet whilst working. Some will have on their profile that their views are their own and not the company they work for and some won’t ever mention the company they work for to try and avoid any problems. If a person is synonymous with the job they do or the company they work in, I think it is nearly impossible for what they say on social media not to be associated with that job or company.

As I say in lots of my blogs about social media, it is an ever-evolving thing, which evolves at a rate of knots. This makes it hard for policies and procedures to keep up and remain relevant. In a lot of cases on social media it takes something to happen for people to have an opinion on whether it is right or wrong and for a procedure or policy to be put in to place. I think the situation last night was case in point.