Was The Social Media Blackout A Good Thing?

Last week, the world experienced a six-hour social media blackout. The three social media giants: Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, all crashed at once. Disaster! In light of this this, and other semi-apocalyptic events that have happened over the past 18-months, many thought this was another sign of humanity’s untimely demise!

But thankfully, it wasn’t.

Our thumbs were spared from scrolling while Mark Zuckerberg delved into what went wrong at Facebook, the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp. After some tinkering on the Monday night, he got the planet’s scrollers scrolling again by Tuesday morning.

According to BBC News, the outage was caused by “an internal technical issue which took Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram offline at about 16:00 GMT on Monday.” After this, what we’d like to know is whether you think temporary social media shutdowns are a good idea? Drastic I know, but hear us out…

 

The Idea of a Social Shutdown

What if, for two months out of 12 every year, the social media giants went quiet, and we were all logged out?

After a couple of years of only being able to interact with each other on our phones, we can certainly see the benefits of social media, and admittedly a blackout would be a challenge. Over the last couple of years, social media outlets have enabled us to continue to communicate with our friends and family from all over the world.

Businesses also rely heavily on social media to promote products or services. But this still risks creating a revenue shortage because there’s no one to advertise to. And, following the outage, the BBC revealed that Zuckerberg himself might have lost in the region of £4.4bn, while Facebook’s shares dropped by almost 5%.

So maybe it isn’t a good idea after all. But what if there was a way of solely targeting private social media users? Stay with us…

 

Would Routine Blackouts Work?

So, the financial implications for some companies are quite severe… Granted. But, if we take another look at the human side of things, ditching our social platforms for a while has been proven to help people’s mental health.

According to Parade.com, ceasing to use social media can cause people to feel anxious at first, and some even develop withdrawal symptoms. But, after a couple of weeks, your mental health should improve. Parade states that “studies have shown a direct correlation between depression and excessive social media use.”

After interviewing Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor, Parade found that of “6,500 12- to 15-year-olds in the U.S, those who spent more than three hours a day using social media might be at heightened risk for mental health problems.”

 

The Key? Focus On Yourself

Finally, I feel like the most compelling reason why we should all be forced to take a break from social media every now and again is because of comparing ourselves with others. This can cause disillusionment with your own life, and you can start to doubt yourself, which is a pretty precarious situation to be in.

Even though many of the ideas discussed above will not come to fruition anytime soon, the message to take away from this blog is that social media, unless you use it to make a living, shouldn’t be the be all and end all.

What do you think?

Which Social Media User Updates Should Just Stay In The Drafts?

Last year, we talked about the possibility that the ‘big three’ social media companies might have run out of ideas. Various changes that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook had made to their interfaces indicated that the things that were making them so unique initially – Twitter’s tight character limit and lack of stories (amended to ‘Fleets’ and 280-character posts), Instagram’s focus on photos only (it now has its Tik Tok-esque ‘Reels’ function, as well as a marketplace) and Facebook’s distinctive look (it introduced a bolder design that some suggested echoed Twitter’s user experience).

 

A fleeting success

 

It’s been almost a year since they were introduced, but it seems that Twitter has finally admitted what we were all thinking: that Fleets were, to put it bluntly, a bit of a rubbish idea. On my own personal account, I’ve seen one, perhaps two of the 300-ish people I follow use Fleets semi-regularly. And if that trend is reflective of the wider Twitter-sphere, it’s easy to see why the feature is being retired. It was an idea that simply didn’t stick.

 

Twitter’s decision to axe it shows that, as a company, it is willing to listen to its users and respond accordingly: a far better policy than simply trucking along with features people don’t want or use. Users want to know they aren’t just a number to the people upstairs, and by adapting to people’s preferences, Twitter has challenged that idea perfectly.

 

However, ‘Fleets’ have now been replaced with ‘Spaces’, which will be launching next week: these are, according to Twitter’s website, ‘a new way to have an audio conversation on Twitter.’ Have we seen this one, before, too, with the meteoric rise of Clubhouse during the pandemic?

 

Time will tell if the Spaces feature sinks or swims – but it’s likely that, if the former happens, the company won’t have qualms about ‘deleting’ the mistake.

 

Plus or minus?

 

Another new feature that has shaken the bedrock of its user base, is the announcement by Tumblr that the site is implementing a pay feature. Called ‘tumblr+’, accounts can now treat their content as a subscriber feature if they wish, with posts, gifs and imagery behind paywalls.

 

Tumblr might not be one of the ‘big three’, but it’s certainly a major player in the social media sphere, with around 472 million registered accounts on the site. A little like a cross between Pinterest and Reddit, the site has frequently faced issues regarding its financing. But this latest solution has been seen by many of its users as a step too far, with some suggesting that the move be immediately withdrawn. As a largely anonymous site, the ‘+’ feature feels too similar to Twitter’s blue tick: and, when the fine print suggests that once a post has been reblogged (the same concept as retweeting) it becomes visible to non-payers, the question becomes: what is the point?

 

Feedback loop

 

Tumblr has responded to its users’ outcry with a feedback form, which suggests that, like Twitter, it values feedback and might amend, or remove, the feature – according to the consensus.

 

While the biggest social media platforms rightfully feel the need to innovate their features, it’s imperative they listen to their users. At the end of the day, they’re not simply just tools to share our photos, musings, jokes or ideas: they’re businesses, and we users are the ‘customers.’ And, of course, businesses that listen and react to the needs of customers fare far better than those who are slow or unwilling to change.

 

At Source, we can help your business with its online presence. Contact a member of our experienced team today.

 

 

 

 

From Journalism To PR: What Have I Learned During My First Month At Source?

It’s been roughly a month or so since I started my role as an Account Executive here at Source, and the time has flown!

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try to give you a brief synopsis of what I’ve learned during my first month.

One thing has become immediately clear since moving over from journalism and into PR and marketing – I’m having to employ a high level of proactivity that, perhaps, my previous roles didn’t necessarily require.

I’m no longer reacting to press releases appearing in my inbox, interviewing business leaders, or hounding the phones for potential news stories.  Instead, I’m having to think outside of the box a bit, juggle different client needs, and deliver on the campaigns in place – all of which is an enjoyable challenge.

What does that involve then?

Well, rather than searching for stories, I’m searching for publicity opportunities for my clients at Source. For example, interview or feature opportunities for client businesses or submitting awards as they’re a great way to enhance their reputation and build credibility.

Social media is also increasingly important to client businesses and to ignore it would be suicide for a company looking to broaden its customer base. At Source, I research and create posts for my clients that cover a wide variety of topics, from industry news, people developments to charity initiatives.

Writing social media posts is a small contribution, but a few posts a week can keep your followers in the loop with regards to what’s happening on the inside, and what a company is doing to either improve its reputation or give back to the community.

It’s also been rewarding to get a better feel for some of the company’s software which helps identify and target key journalists or influencers and the social media scheduling and analysis tools which ensure we target the right post at the right time and to the right audience.

Time allocation

At the moment, I still feel like I’m getting to know Source PR, how we operate and, of course, my clients, but everyone here has been really helpful since I’ve arrived and I’m certainly starting to find my feet!

So far, I’ve also spent time has been spent writing blogs and building content for client websites, which has also really helped me get to know them. Curating the weekly social posts for the clients I look after is another great opportunity for me to familiarise myself with them, their industries, and the top industry publications.

But, because of the more proactive nature of PR, I’m starting to realise that the sooner the more ‘scheduled’ tasks can be done, like the socials, for example, the better! This then allows more time to look for new client opportunities or to add value to campaigns which helps cement existing relationships.

How’s it going?

In summary, I’m really enjoying it so far! I know which aspects of the role I can make my own and where my strengths lie, but I also know what I need to do to become a proficient Account Executive. Hopefully, with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, I’ll be able to head out and meet with some of our clients, too – it will be good to put some names to faces! So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s onwards and upwards from here.

 

WILL PRINT MEDIA MAKE A COMEBACK IN 2020?

Since we at Source work in both digital and print media, it’s good to have our fingers on the pulse and be aware of any changes in the industry, and we’ve had our eyes peeled on some changes in the landscape for a little while now.

The digital marketing sphere has boomed in recent years, and now most people turn to social media and online articles for their news. The so-called ‘death’ of print media has been long publicised, dramatised and catastrophised by people. And who can blame them? Print media is an industry that dates back to the 1800s, with the first movable printing type system dating back to 1450. It seems wrong that such a traditional form of communication be so quickly and easily phased out.

A U-Turn in the Industry?

However, despite the huge cultural shift from paper to screens, the industry might not be as doomed as first thought. When the first e-readers hit the markets back in the mid-2000s, people feared that it would cause the total dissolution of physical copies of books. It was marketed as revolutionary – there’s now no need to go to a shop to browse titles, with the text available to be downloaded at the press of a button, often for a fraction of the price of a physical copy.

But by 2015, eight years after the Kindle first hit the market, e-books occupied just twenty per cent of the total publishing sales. While this is a fair chunk, it is still vastly in the minority of sales, with millennials reportedly being the age group that is apparently keeping the industry afloat. That’s right – we aren’t ‘killing’ an industry for a change (!).

In 2018, sales of print books made $22.6 billion, while e-book copies generated $2.04 billion. While the joys and conveniences of the e-reader market have certainly been reaped, its impact hasn’t wiped out sales or enthusiasm for physical copies. It turns out that people simply love owning physical copies of the things they like to read.

Newsquest to Launch New Salford Publication

It seemed a clear trajectory for a long time, too, that digital media was going to clear print media clean off the shelves, but earlier this year the publisher Newsquest announced that the city of Salford will be getting a new newspaper, ‘Salford City News,’ launching at the end of this month. Newsquest says that the paper will ‘fly the flag for residents,’ and will have a cover price of 80p. The website will be found at salfordcitynews.co.uk.

Karl Holbrook, Newsquest Regional Group Editor for Lancashire and Greater Manchester, said, ‘Salford is an amazing place, full of history and culture. But there is a real sense on the ground hat Salford is often ignored next to its louder sibling across the River Irwell […] We believe there is a stainable publishing future in Salford as weekly print brand and as the daily online provider of the best local content.’

The company is also launching a Teesside edition. This will cover news in the north-east region, including Middlesbrough, Redcar, Stockton, Yarm and Saltburn. Hannah Chapman, editor of the Northern Echo, said: ‘This is such an exciting time for Teesside, with a series of major projects in the pipeline which could bring massive economic boosts to the area. I regularly get asked by readers for more Teesside content, so taking the two things together, it seemed like a natural step to increase our coverage with this new edition.’

If a resurgence of physical media is to occur, what better place to start than with local publishers? Local news is often side-lined and under-resourced in comparison to its larger counterparts. News of investment into the sector is extremely promising – not only for the residents of Salford and Teesside, but for all of those whose jobs rely on physical media.

A Matter of Time?

Despite this positive blip, it will be difficult to say what is on the horizon at this point in time for the future of traditional media. The chief executive of the New York Times, Mark Thompson, estimates that the paper has ‘at least ten years’ left in physical form, but ‘there may come a point when the economics of [the print paper] no longer make sense for us.’

Whatever the future holds for print media, we’ll be on the lookout for the changes to the industry and keep the updates coming!

At Source, we embrace both the traditional and the digital world, with effective PR and communications at the heart of what we do. Get in touch with us on 01829 7208789 to learn more, or follow us on Twitter (@source_tweets), Facebook (@SourcePublicRelations) and LinkedIn (The Source).

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT TAKES A NEW TWIST

Social media management takes a new twist as Twitter announces plans to ban political ads from its service globally, with the action to come into force on 22 November.

The broad ban will cover all adverts specific to candidates and issues, however some ads will be allowed to remain, including those encouraging people to vote. The organisation says, via a tweet, that they ‘believe political message reach should be earned, not bought…?’.

This comes ahead of the US Presidential election campaign as well as the General Election here in the UK.   Although on one level it makes sense and provides more of a level playing field for campaigners, regardless of their financial backing, it does open a whole area of debate.

Some of the key points that come to mind, include whether it is right for a media outlet to ban all political advertising or would it be better to implement the existing guidelines on advertising that prevent false claims, libel or malign forces acting inappropriately?

There are also a number of very grey areas including; what exactly determines a political advert?  Should the ban cover all topics relating to racial equality, women’s rights or even climate change?  It’s clear that an all-out ban would be hard to police, subjective as to what areas are covered and could pose more problems than it answers.

There is no doubt that ‘fake news’ or worse still intentionally deceptive stories should be more effectively managed on-line or at least come with an open disclaimer.  There is a growing problem of fake news as it polarises opinion, misleads and unduly influences susceptible voters – often even making the news in more genuine outlets.

The Conservative Party has also recently been told off for doctoring a video of Sir Keir Starmer outlining Labour’s position on Brexit.  Anyone with a modicum of intelligence could immediately tell it was a ‘joke’, however there is a fear that over policing of such activities or such extreme social media management could both dry up political debate but worse still put politics above mockery – at a time when our political leaders are opening themselves to satire and Spitting Image is making a timely comeback.

Twitter exemptions

As we wait for the full details of Twitter exemptions next month, it’s a shame that a media outlet is planning to unilaterally determine what advertisers can or can’t say and to therefore ironically have an influence on a political outcome.  Perhaps it is because they simply want to apply pressure on competitors like Facebook who secure significant revenue streams from political advertisers?

The media is no doubt changing and rightfully so.  We must however welcome, embrace and use new digital communications platforms but it’s critically important that the media operates to a level playing field where rules regarding false promises or advertising are closely monitored and managed.  If that is the case then there would be no need for media outlets to take matters into their own hands and influence their own audiences by determining what they’re willing to share with their customers.

ELMAC TECHNOLOGIES TURN TO SOURCE PR FOR PR AND SOCIAL SUPPORT

Elmac Technologies, head quartered in North Wales, has appointed Source PR to support the business with their media relations, social media management and stakeholder engagement.  The company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Flame Arresters, supplying clients and distributors around the world.

Elmac’s innovative Flame Arresters and Low-Pressure Venting Equipment are utilised by OEM’s and Operators in a wide range of industry sectors including; petrochemicals, oil and gas, bio-fuels, mining, pharmaceuticals, power generation, agrochemicals and distilleries.

Source PR has been appointed to raise awareness of the company’s state-of-the-art design, manufacturing, testing and commercial facilities as well as its comprehensive range of enhanced In-Line and End-of-Line Deflagration Arresters and In-Line Unstable Detonation Arresters. The Elmac product range also incorporates a wide range of valves and other low-pressure venting equipment designed to meet client-specific requirements.

Louis Hill, Managing Director at Source PR, comments: “Elmac is centred on delivering its core purpose of protecting people, property and the planet. The company has a truly global reach and we have exciting plans in place to help communicate the innovative R&D, efficient operations and unparalleled customer service they deliver.”

Digital communications

Award winning Source PR is headquartered in Chester and offers a range of communications services including public relations, social media management, content management as well as digital communications.  The company has clients across the UK, offering a range of B2B and B2C communications advice.

DIGITAL AGENCY – HOW THE TIMES ARE A CHANGIN’

When working in a digital agency in Chester and providing B2B PR or consumer PR clients with support and advice, it’s so important to keep up to date with the ever-changing world of new technologies, insights and applications.

Understanding and using new technologies helps keep you at the forefront of providing valuable advice and delivering current campaigns for clients that really work for businesses and customers alike.

If you stand still too long or stop to give yourself a pat on the back, there is a real chance that you’ll get left behind.  It’s fast moving, challenging but when compared to the old days of pure PR – very rewarding.

For years there was always the question of ‘how do you put a value on PR?’  Historically it was a measurement of column inches or messages density, but now there are so many additional factors that should be considered whether it’s directly reaching thousands of customers with engaging messages through social media or producing content that improves a client’s reputation or thought leadership position. Each post or article can be measured in terms of who read it and what action they took as a result.

Digital

With the growth in digital the whole world is more transparent.  The engagement on each post can be measured, the actual number of people who read an online article can be seen and the customer journey for each purchase can be viewed as cookies follow customers through their entire purchasing process.

This is great.  It helps justify marketing budgets and provides a real opportunity to show a return on an investment.  Most important of all is that it makes you realise that you are actually making a difference, that the work you’re creating is driving sales and that the campaigns work.  The times are changing and look set to continue to evolve which has to be great news for clients and digital PR agencies alike – as long as you can keep up.

Fake News, can it be avoided?

In a world of “he said she said” debates across social media and “click bait” news articles, it’s difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t….

Although fake news is not a new concept, it’s now moving up the real news agenda with the help of social media – allowing a story to spread like wildfire within a matter of minutes.  People often say they find out the latest via their trending list on their Twitter page before they’ve even switched on the TV.  We can’t deny that it’s pretty impressive having access to world news at the touch of a button but you can also run into some Chinese whispers along the way.

Read more

The Power of Social Media

Social media has the power and the ability to change the world. It’s a broad claim, but the proof is in the figures; our good friends at Clicky Media have calculated that 92.6% of the 65 million UK population have internet access and over half of the population are active on social media sites – and this is just the UK, so imagine the numbers on a global scale! Social platforms are continuously developing; we have gone from basic status sharing sites to ones which are now inundated with gifs, memes, user-generated content and ‘reactions’, all of which keep internet users engaged and ‘tuned in’ to the events of the wider world. Read more