We are now undoubtedly residing in the digital age, and social media is one of the main platforms for conversation. We have accounts for ourselves, for our businesses, our hobbies and even accounts for our pets, all in the name of having conversations online. But has this dominance of social media started changing the way we think? Let’s examine some of the key influence points…
It’s Changed The Way We Talk
Have you ever said the word ‘LOL’ out loud? Did the word ‘Selfie’ even exist 5 years ago? Maybe abbreviated sentences or cut out syllables to make things quicker to say? Text speak and social media go together like green eggs and ham, and it’s not surprising that it’s started to seep into our everyday language. Whether it’s shortening words and sentences or simple adding new words to our vocabulary, there is no denying social media is having a marked impact on the evolution of our language.
Our Friendships Will Never Be The Same
In the good old days if you wanted to talk to your friends, you picked up the phone or walked over to their house. You waited to talk to them at school, at work or down the pub on Friday night. Whichever method you chose, there was a personal connection involved, and this included the audio and visual clues to good conversation that go along with it. Now we message our friends online, relying on little symbols called ‘emoji’s’ to show our emotions. Almost everyone reading this will have, at some point in their life, misunderstood the meaning of a text because there were no physical clues to help them out. A playful insult with a smile and wink in person can start a raging argument over text, because there is no indicator that this is a joke. We have also changed the way we value friendships. If we have 300 friends on Facebook, we count that as having loads of friends, despite the fact that we haven’t seen or spoken to some of them in years. Our friendships are now being measured more and more by the interaction we have on social media, and not by the real life encounters.
Anyone Can be An Expert
Thanks to the Internet and social media, anyone with a keyboard can voice an opinion and expect it to be heard and worshiped by the online world. Blogging sites are popping up like rabbits, letting everyone have a voice. We think this is fantastic – as it raises the profile of brilliant people who would never have a voice otherwise. On the other hand, it has created a mire of fraudsters, bloggers of questionable character and downright idiots, all of whom can sound convincing. On the flip side of that coin, it has made us very good at sniffing out bullshitters and understanding when something is fact and when it is opinion, or just a downright lie.
Think back even a few years ago. Would you keep a photo album full of your own photos? Hundreds of pictures of yourself pouting and posing, trying to get the perfect shot? No, of course not! But in the age of social media this is what we find – and it is reinforced with ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. Networks like Instagram were developed to allow us to post pictures of ourselves, our food and our cats all over the Internet, and while this can be a bonding exercise for some, it is pure vanity to others.
Romantic Relationships Have Morphed
In the past, if you wanted to go on a date your would ask a friend to set you up, go to a singles bar or perhaps dip your toe into speed dating. But with the Internet came the invention of online dating, and the world was forever changed. We’re not saying online dating is a new thing – it’s as old as the Internet, but social media has rapidly changes the way we (particularly the young ones) are viewing relationships. Tinder is one of the biggest culprits here – it created the dating-hook-up hybrid and opened up the doors for ‘cool’ online dating for youths. Profiles on online dating sites went through the roof, and it’s not surprising that we can see changes in the way we view relationships. Often now, dating is just for passing fancies and quick flings, not for settling down and finding ‘the one’. It’s easy to forget that in a culture of instant gratification like social media, relationships are broken as easily as they’re forged.
Now we aren’t the people to be bashing social media – we think it’s great! It opens up new avenues for business, helps you find lots loved ones, reconnect with old friends and has inspired communities to band together in the interest of a common goal. But it has undeniably changed the way we think and act, and this has a knock on effect in the way we form relationships in our personal and business lives, as well as the way we communicate with each other. So next time you go to say ‘LOL’, stop and think – would I have said this 10 years ago?
Anyone who has ever been read bits from the bible (or anyone who has ever watched Seven to be honest) will know of the 7 deadly sins. These are supposed to be the origin of all other sins, so these 7 behaviours are some of the worst you can commit. But little known to humanity a second set of 7 deadly sins was created during the dawn of the Internet age, when social media became a viral phenomenon and inexcusable behaviours were rife. These 7 deadly sins of social media should be avoided at all costs, if you wish to be successful on social media.
No one likes to be criticised, and our gut response when someone says something negative about us on the Internet often goes 1 of 2 ways – we either get angry and retaliate, or we delete the offending comment. Neither of these responses means good news for your brand image, and you will fall into the sin of wrath. It’s important to remember rule 1 of the Internet. What you put on the Internet stays on the Internet for a very long time, so if you respond negatively to a comment, it won’t go away. This can sometimes be a good thing though. If someone logs a complaint with your company over social media, you can use it to respond in a quick and friendly manner. Show off your customer service skills and you might just gain more customers for it. Remember, don’t just ignore what is happening, or respond to hastily, engage in a positive way.
A lot of businesses start out on social media out of purely selfish reasons. This is not bad thing! Social media is the ideal platform to promote yourself, engage directly with potential customers and even gain some new business. But the trick is to take on a ‘givers gain’ attitude. Too often we see businesses that are greedy on social media, wanting lots of followers without followings, wanting people to promote them without doing it in return, the list goes on. Social media is a two way street, and if you give a little you can gain a lot. So if your customers are spreading the word about you, thank them by returning the favour, or with a special discount or promotion.
There is nothing worse than a lazy social account. If it’s now July and your last post was in May, something has gone horribly wrong for you. Social media is a very instant world, and frequent updating is essential to keep up the momentum and keep your business growing. If you don’t post often enough you risk customers thinking you have gone out of business, losing the opportunity to drive sales and interact with your customers along the way. Be ready to respond to messages in a timely manner and don’t leave people hanging there. After all no one likes awkward silences.
Everyone has that really annoying Facebook friend who posts 20 selfies a day and is constantly raving about their life. Here’s a bit of a reality check for you: if you are posting nothing but highly branded, promotional or sales based content all the time, that is you, and nobody likes that guy. Instead, intersperse your message with other humorous of informative content to give your followers some value and break up the monotony.
Ahh social media lust. Defined as the desire to be on every single social network possible at the same time with the same message. We’ll let you in on a secret – it’s just not possible, and what’s more you shouldn’t really be trying. Each social network has it’s own personality, and it’s important to tailor your approach and your content to that. Social media is all about being on the right platform at the right time with the right message, for example, Instagram loves photos, Facebook likes videos and Twitter likes visuals, information and hashtags.
Envy is a natural human emotion, and something everyone feels from time to time. Sometimes, we even want to piggyback their success, in the vain hope that we too will become successful. Envy at another’s success on social media can be slightly frustrating, but that does not mean you should attempt to ape their behaviour and hope for the same results. The most common examples we see are of ‘Twitter envy’, and usually involve users hashtagging #literally #every #word and using highly irrelevant but popular hashtags to pull themselves onto the pedestal. Now we’re not grinding on chatting #hashtags, but only when they are relevant to you and your readers! When you feel the social envy creeping up, turn your thoughts to your own content plan and how you can improve it.
And finally, the deadly sin that will earn you a crowd of irritated customers and a lot of unfollows. Gluttons are the opposite of Sloths, and instead of not posting enough they are bombarding their chosen networks with hundreds of messages a day. This passes from the realm of ‘informative updates’ (as they so often try and convince themselves) and straight into spam territory. The sad part is, even if you have interesting thins to say they are pushed down so fast by all your other updates that they will never be found. To save you from accidental gluttony, this is our recommended social media dosage:
Twitter: No more than once per hour
Facebook: No more than twice a day
LinkedIn & Google+: no more than twice a day