They say a Facebook smile is contagious

 A recent experiment carried out by Facebook has caused concern amongst social media users. The secret study conducted on over 600,000 users was designed to see how users’ emotions were affected by the content displayed on their newsfeed. 

The results are simple: If a user’s friends are posting positive statuses than the user is more likely to post a positive status or vice versa. Not only are real smiles contagious but so are virtual smiles.

Why are people concerned?

While the study seems quite simple, people are concerned that possibility of being manipulated through their newsfeed. The study was conducted without the knowledge of the participants which leads to further fear that users will be targeted without their knowledge. The biggest concern many highlighted is the risk of this being used in political campaigns.

Nothing new

Emotional manipulation has been used since the beginning of advertising. Appeals to fear are often used to change behaviour in campaigns such as anti-smoking or anti-drink driving. Ads for charities aim to inspire the opportunity to make a difference. Appealing to emotions, whether they be happiness, fear or love change behaviours.

Should we worry?

It is instinctive for people to be concerned. The thought of being manipulated without knowing it seems plain wrong. However, it’s important to remember that people are already subjected to this kind of manipulation through traditional media platforms. The term manipulation carries negative connotations but the motives behind this type of marketing or advertising is not always sinister.

Users should always look for the truth when making decisions. Ask yourself why you hold a certain belief and if you aren’t sure than perhaps some further research will help to clarify your understanding. For example, if you have a particular belief about a political figure try to uncover how you came to that conclusion. Is it based on the beliefs of friends or family or social media? Developing this understanding and forming opinions based on research will help you to regain control.

For further information check out Soshable’s article here.

 Image: Brittany Herself

Budget receives plenty of attention online

Image: Twitter

It’s been almost a month since Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the budget and the response from the Australian people has been enormous.

The Abbott Government’s budget has been the topic of discussions across social networks. While I have seen some pro-budget posts it is the dissenters I will focus on in here since they seem to have had the loudest voice.

As a student I have been  subjected mostly to messages regarding university fees: uncapping of fees, reduced government investment in universities, introducing interest on FEE-HELP and a reduced income repayment level.

Social media has played a couple of different roles.

Online discussion

If you can call it this. While there were some conversations, there was also just many tweets and many memes made. From memes to hashtags the Government has copped it all. #ThreeWordBudget circulated through Twitter with many participants using negative words to describe the budget. Here are a couple of examples:

I’m sure by now you’ve seen many memes pass through your newsfeed. Social media users were quick to make memes and share them to their online networks. Here are a few examples:

(Twitter)

Image: The Hoopla

Live updates

University students in Melbourne and Sydney protested against the budget on the street and at their universities – and it was all captured on social media.

Sophie Mirabella’s lecture at the University of Melbourne was interrupted by protesting students.

This is just one of many tweets and videos posted to social media sites. It takes only moments for the news to spread nationally, not the way the Government would like it to be.

So how did the Government respond?

Well, they tried, I suppose. Here’s a tweet they sent out:

The responses received to this tweet were negative. There is nothing to show that they are even listening.

It appears that they are giving social media a go. They are trying to change the tone of the online discussion but before they can try and do that they need to listen to the conversation.

The Liberal Party of Australia’s Facebook page tells much the same story. They are using social media to push their messages. Beyond this they are staying out of the discussion and not listening to the conversation.

To develop a more positive discussion requires the Government to listen to what people are saying. It is useless to push information onto people who are not interested in accepting it. Matters of politics will always have opposition but there will also be supporters.

This is social media, you can’t control it but you can try to manage.

 

Airlines tweet to reduce fear

The world has been tweeting #MH370. The tragic disappearance of the Malaysian Airline plane has captured the hearts of people all over the world.

Countless conversations have occurred on social media with endless suggestions of what may have happened. But how has social media been used by airlines during this time?

Building Trust

Despite how safe flying is, the fear of flying is common. With the recent disappearance of MH370, convincing these people to fly just got harder. So how can airlines use social media to help?

Building trust with potential passengers is an important start. If people can feel as though an airline cares about them, their well-being and their safety, then they will be more comfortable to purchase those flights to Bali they’ve been dreaming about.

Source: Qantas

Inspire Adventure

The most engaging airlines online trigger the imagination of followers. If you’ve ever planned a holiday, or ever just dreamed, you’d turn to images for inspiration of places to visit and potentially life-changing experiences to be had.

Social media allows airlines to collate these images for you to leisurely scroll through. It requires no effort from the customer and a solution for how to get there is presented right on their screen.

Is it enough?

With a simple scroll through your newsfeed you can simply find inspiration for your next holiday and immediately know who can get you there.  While you’re dreaming of exploring New York or laying on a beach in Thailand and with the trust Qantas or Emirates has gained, are you still afraid to fly? Or are you lost the excitement of your next adventure?

Is this enough to make you forget about your fear of flying? Or are airlines going to have to work over time to recover the confidence of their customers?

Social media: staying connected

social media tags

Source: 5loom

Social media has become a part of our daily lives. We access it constantly, update statuses, pin images, tweet comments and read blogs. Each of us helps to form the social media landscape.

Suddenly each of us have become a multitude of professions: photographers, writers, content curators, marketers.

Since this is my first post, I thought it would be appropriate to begin with an introduction. I am each of these things. I share my photos, I tweet and update my status about what I see, hear and feel – sometimes inappropriately but I’m not alone in this right? I also pin images to my Pinterest boards and share Buzzfeed content with my friends – usually of DIY suggestions or stories told by cats.

I am studying Public Relations and I am quickly learning that those inappropriate statuses we write in a state of frustration are not ideal, especially in business. It’s important to use social media strategically in PR and so, I aim to focus on how we can use social media effectively in the PR industry.