Social Networking from Apps to Zombies: Questions from Google Autocomplete

Google’s autocomplete tool is a great way to find out what people want to know about certain topics. It completes your words and sentences, based on what it thinks you’re going to type – and it makes these assumptions based on what other people around the world are searching on Google, and how frequently they’re searching for it (note: this works best if you’re logged out of your Google accounts and clear your browser history, as otherwise you’ll get autocomplete results tailored to you – rather than results ranked by worldwide popularity). Read more

Do We “Need” Social Media?

While researching the Essena O’Neill saga, I came across this video on YouTube.

It makes some really salient points about the benefits of social media, which can be carried across to (and arguably, amplified within) private social networks.

Social networks open us up to new ideas and new points of view. Facebook, Twitter and other large social networks are like taking an undergraduate class; lots of perspectives and ideas, from lots of people, all in the same space, figuring out what they think about things and finding what they love. Private social networks are like a PhD, or a masterclass: a smaller group, really refining their ideas and beliefs.

Starting up a private social network where people can gather around a shared experience or something they all really care about creates a space for learning and growth; it removes the superficiality that pervades mass social media and networking sites from the proliferation of perspectives and ideas which can make social networking so valuable. For example: if you create a Facebook page or group for discussions of transfeminist issues, you are likely to get some homophobic, misogynist and transphobic people slipping through the cracks and dominating discussion. If you create a private social network, it’s a focused, safe space which could ultimately build similar numbers and achieve the same things.

In essence: while we could certainly live without social media, our intellectual and emotional lives can absolutely be enriched by it, in a variety of ways. Private social networks create yet another, more dedicated space where that enrichment can take place.

Essena O’Neill, Social Media and Authenticity

It seems like everybody who works in communications is talking about Essena O’Neill at the moment; how she exposed the truth behind the photos she posted on Instagram, sharing what it took to get the perfect photo and how much she was paid for promoting certain products. She claims that social media is fake, and we’re all just seeking validation. essena

While many studies exist showing the negative effects of social media on self-esteem, most of the backlash against Essena has focused on three things: the fact that she’s still online and asking for money, that she’s manipulating information, and that there are many positives to social media.

I have a group of friends who I’ve known for ten years (we all met in 2005). One of them has made me and my partner godmothers to her son; another is planning to sign as a witness on my marriage certificate. Three of them live in my old hometown, and the first thing I do when I book a flight is send them a group text so we can arrange a girls’ night out. They’re my cheerleaders, my confidantes, people who I love dearly and who will drop everything just to call me on a bad day.

I met all of them online, because we joined the same private, niche interest social network.

Imagine if you were the only kid in your town who loved comic books. Imagine if you were the only person you knew with severe anxiety or depression. Imagine being transgender in the middle of the most conservative, religious city in your state. Imagine if everyone in your family just switched off when you started talking about your favorite book (again).

Maybe mass social networks are all about validation and popularity, but niche social networks are all about community. Technology isn’t inherently bad in itself; it’s how we use it.

There are several products which have been developed to try and create a more authentic social experience online. Casey Neistat created Beme, a video sharing app where you press to your chest to record, and the second you’re done, your video is uploaded (no opportunities for editing or withholding the information). Once the video has been watched, it’s gone. You can watch Neistat’s introduction to Beme below.

And of course, there’s PeepSo. Essentially, when you remove the mass market from the social networking experience, you remove the need to perform. When people join private, niche communities with a specific focus, there are no “celebrities”, there is nobody you have to impress. You’re simply there to connect with others, to have a shared experience.

The best thing Essena has done here is crack the door wide open, so we can start to have a real, informed conversation about what social media is, how it works, why we use it. We’re excited to be part of that conversation, and would love to hear your thoughts.

PeepSo 1.2.0 Has Native WordPress oEmbed Support

I know what you’re thinking: “Wow! Fantastic! Superb! Awesome! Fabulous… Huh?”

You were right the first time. oEmbed in PeepSo 1.2.0 is a way of presenting a link on a website. Instead of showing blue text and an underline, you get to show the actual content you want to share. So if you wanted to show your visitors a YouTube video, instead of telling them where to go, you embed the video itself.

YouTube embeded link.

YouTube embedded link.

You’ve seen this before. All the big names online— Spotify, InstagramTwitter—they all do it. It’s a fantastic way of presenting content.

Instagram embeded image.

Instagram embedded image.

oEmbed isn’t just pretty. It also helps with usability and it keeps people on your site. Instead of sending your users to YouTube, you can show them the video inline and keep them with you.

Twitter embedded link.

Twitter embedded link.

PeepSo now supports all of the embeds that WordPress natively supports. You can see the whole list here: https://codex.wordpress.org/Embeds

And if you really want to learn oEmbed’s technical details you can take a look here: http://oembed.com/

 

The Shelf Life of a Social Network Post

Posts on social networking sites can be like feathers in the wind; you never know just how far they’ll spread. A simple share or like by an influential person or page can take a post that’s months old, and turn it viral; but for most posts, according to a study done by Bitly, they have about three hours to get their message across before they disappear (interestingly, YouTube is anomalous here; links shared from YouTube tend to last around seven hours before fading away).

A graph showing the shelf life of a Bitly post.

A graph showing the shelf life of a Bitly post.

If you’re sending out an important message about your business, that leaves you with two options (or three, if you consider posting your message as a YouTube video an option): pay to boost your post, or keep reposting your message again and again to try and reach as many people as possible. As a small business, it can be near impossible to make your voice heard over discriminatory algorithms and the noise of an endlessly refreshing newsfeed.

Having your own social network increases the shelf life of your posts drastically – there’s just not as much to compete with. It helps you to ensure that your messages are getting to the people who care about your business, and what you’re doing – without having to pay extra.