Being a full time Social Media Manager I don’t think it would be a surprise to any that I’m a fan of social media. While there is often so much negativity shared and highlighted from people’s (especially young people’s) experience of it, I firmly believe that if used, consumed and delivered in the right way it can be a really positive and powerful tool for anyone who chooses to use it.
Today I’ve seen two totally contrasting articles shared on the subject. The first being on huge, well known ‘influencers’ and their inappropriate use of bots and tools to buy followers, to con brands and their audiences to make money for themselves. The second was found by a trending hashtag I came across on Twitter, #ReclaimSocial, and this is the one I’m choosing to focus on here.
While I often have very strong opinions on the hot topic of the moment when it comes to social media, I very rarely choose to focus on it on my blog. I do enough analysing and research into social media at work all day that it’s something I tend to just keep separate. That and the fact that I’d have never ending blog posts and rants on the subject that nobody else would probably be interested in means I prefer to just keep things away from that area. But I really thought that the #ReclaimSocial concept was one I wanted to get involved in.
Created by a company called Lightful, a social media technology company, who have been campaigning for 6th February to become #ReclaimSocial day on an annual basis with the help of charities, bloggers and anyone who wants to get involved. For the sake of transparency here, I just want to make it really clear that before about 3 hours ago I’d never heard of either Lightful or the #ReclaimSocial idea. I’ve not been approached, paid, or asked to share this, it’s just one of those times where I will cross the fine line between social media at work and social media for pleasure.
So, what is #ReclaimSocial?
The idea that social media can be used for positive reasons like making a difference, awareness, inspiration, creativity, sharing good news and feel good stories as well as all the negative I’m sure you’re aware of. 6th February is their chosen day to attempt to counteract the negativity associated with it, and remind people that social media can be what you make of it.
Last year they reached over 10 million people in 5 hours on twitter, and if that doesn’t show you the impact social media can have I don’t know what will. At least the message was positive! Some examples of those who got involved and their stories include:
Child Bereavement UK
So that’s the basics and the background info, and it got me thinking about all the ways social media can be used for positive reasons. I’m not just talking about the change the world messages, or save a life messages, petitions that end up in Parliament, or lost children returned safely to their parents. I’m talking about in your daily life, how it can be used to make life easier or to give you some sort of enjoyment out of it.
Social Media for Positive Use
Probably the biggest one for me, but over the last 2-3 years Instagram has become my first point of call to review and research travel destinations before I book a trip there. This can be anything from checking out the location, getting a better idea of what accommodation actually looks like, and reading what other normal people have to say about it.
We’ve all seen the horror stories of ‘TripAdvisor vs Reality’, and I really find that Instagram allows me to build a much better real picture of somewhere new before visiting. Using the geo location tag and search, hashtags, tourist board accounts and tagged accounts you can get a much better insight into these areas than a holiday brochure or review site really portrays – both positively and negatively.
It allows a level of familiarity to develop before venturing into the unknown, and therefore can really reduce the chances of any nasty surprises. You can also interact and ask questions to real people you know have been. The amount of people who have messaged me recently after my New York trip just highlights to me how many people are using social media like I do to gather info to help plan their trip.
Pretty much the same as using it for travel research purposes, scoping out restaurants before visiting doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always about finding somewhere ‘instagrammable’ like the social media police might suggest.
So. many. people. see new places they want to try because someone they follow has been and shared pictures of their food. Again, is that the groans of the social media police I hear? Not more photos of food! Well I honestly don’t believe you if you say to me you haven’t seen a mouthwatering dish on social media and made a point of wanting to try it for yourself. Heart shaped pizza in Florence might be ‘instagrammable’ but it was the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Then there’s the practical side, of actually booking. Many restaurants can actually book via social media now, so if their profiles are set up properly it gives you everything you need in one place. I booked two meals, at a tiny family run restaurant in Rome that I was recommended via Facebook messenger, because they didn’t even have a website.
On my recent trip to New York over 50% of the places we ate at I discovered via instagram.
Who has time for actual real life shopping in shops these days? I go at least once a week actually but usually after work, and I usually have a good idea of what I want to buy, nine times out of ten because I’ve seen it on social media.
My fabulous new boots – originally seen on a fashion blogger instagram account, my latest slogan t shirt – appeared as an ad on Facebook, my last pair of trainers – wouldn’t have even considered to look in the shop they’re from if I hadn’t seen them on social media. Then there’s the dress I didn’t think would suit me because I’m so short, until I saw someone else I follow wearing it who is shorter than me.
And of course, those all important discount codes. So many are unique to social media.
On the flip side, social media gives smaller online boutiques, freelancers, creators and makers a platform to showcase their talents and products on offer. Not everyone has huge corporate advertising budgets, but more and more these aren’t needed due to free, consumable and interactive social media options that can put your products under peoples noses a lot more effectively.
Finding healthy recipes, exercise routines and seeing real results in the form of before and after pictures is on our feeds on a daily basis and can be used to our advantage. You don’t have to buy an entire cookbook now just for one recipe. You can feel less nervous going into a gym class of people throwing all the technical names around for exercises if you’ve watched a youtube video beforehand!
Pinterest is incredible for inspiration. I’m sure entire weddings, baby showers, hen do ideas and party decor worldwide have been created using pinterest as the starting point.
Social media is about being ‘social’ after all, the clue is in the name. With Facebook groups for shared interests, Twitter hashtags for almost everything, and the ability to communicate across the globe brings with it all sorts of benefits that we wouldn’t have so readily available to us without social media.
Personally, I follow almost all the #NUFC and football news updates on twitter, daily. I love the ‘best tweets of the week’ article on a Friday that is always hilarious, and I have a whole new network of friends, acquaintances and people I now know through Instagram. It’s also how many of us keep up to date with our friends. You can go weeks without speaking to anyone but tagging your best girls in meme’s is officially a ‘thing’ now isn’t it.
I’ve seen new mums say social media can be a life saver during the sleepless nights, people suffering for depression reach out to strangers for more help than they’re getting in person, and help at hand in the form of polls or questions asked through social.
Then there’s Facebook, and while this is my least favourite platform it does allow me to keep up to date on what people I don’t see every day are up to, milestones, special occasions and achievements that are so nice to see amongst the daily dross.
Social media gives us access to relatable content, real people and a shared interest or belief in a way that just couldn’t happen without it, if you know how to use it and where to look.
A Creative Platform
Similar to shops, freelancers and businesses, creativity has taken on a whole new meaning online and in the world of social media. Photographers can flourish on instagram, creative writers can share their work in blogs or online outlets, make up artists can show off their abilities, and technology can be used in ways to create amazing and meaningful videos.
The world of social media, blogging and such is only increasing. There’s room for everyone because everyone is different and where else can you see such inclusivity? It was only this week that I came across this really amazing blog post by Sophie Milner of Fashion Slave, discussing why she’s proud to be a female influencer. It’s really worth a read, and she’s right, creatives are killing it and it’s largely due to social media. Not everything is for narcissistic tendencies and personal gratification.
Not everyone is using social media for justification of themselves. And not everyone is consuming it without any level of awareness. I’d say most people are conscious that what is out there isn’t the reality all the time, just like it isn’t in magazines or on TV. Let’s give ourselves some credit, we aren’t that manipulated.
We all know there are the negative cases, the bullying, the online trolling, the sinister dark web with all sorts of horrors lying behind it. And in the world of social media and blogging we all know that some people are faking it, some people aren’t genuine, and after the last week of updated advertising standards, people who aren’t being transparent or disclosing their content in a clear way.
While I totally agree that all of those things and these bad practises are misleading and frankly wrong, let’s not forget the positive impact that social media really can have, and that’s all I’m highlighting here.
Just something to think about.
Imagery in this post is mine, unless otherwise stated, and includes screengrabs from social media.
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