Celebrities, social opinion, and the political sphere.

Celebrities, social opinion, and the political sphere.

For added support, just chuck a ‘Rock’ at it.

Years ago, before the introduction of social media, we all relied on the information provided to us by media outlets like television, tabloid, newspapers, radio and the like to help us understand the world and form our opinions. In the present day, the reliance on these regulated forms of media may still be important in the formation of public opinion, particularly with the older generations, however it appears that social media has introduced an immediate two-way conversation between celebrities and their fans that never existed until recently; a type of democratisation of a fan club in real-time.

Celebrities crossing over from their usual world of popularity into the political sphere to use their huge fan-base to help influence the outcome of an upcoming election or even to simply make a political statement, is not uncommon.

Marlon Brando in 1973, was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in The Godfather. In his stead, he sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather. In protest against the long-standing failure for the USA to honour the treaties it had made with Native American nations and as a proclamation against the stereotypical portrayal of Native Americans in TV and film, she refused the award on Marlon’s behalf. Before this, politics had been pretty much left out of the Oscars, and worryingly for The Academy, on the night, Sacheen’s words were met with a mixture of booing and applause.

This show of ‘political shenanigans’ prompted the Academy, who were fearing a PR disaster, to ban any future award recipients from sending proxies on their behalf. There have been many other occasions where outside politics have taken centre stage at the Oscars. Who can forget Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon in 1993, and the fine performance of Michael Moore in 2003. Yes, not exactly politics as such, but certainly showing how one human can have a strong influence on matters.

Meanwhile in politics

In 1966, an actor who starred in such films as ‘The Bad Man’ called Ronald Regan was elected Governor of California and later became the President of the United States. Moving through the years, in 2008, Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney openly and loudly endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign; as of yet, neither of them have opted run for President, but who knows? During the same campaign, American musician Hank Williams Jr chose to write a song, endorsing Senator John McCain’s campaign.

Chucking A ‘Rock’ At The Election

Recently, on Sunday, Sept. 27 2020, The Rock, a man who certainly knows how to spin his own PR, decided to post a video on Instagram that was far different from anything he had posted before. In his own words, “it expressed a message near and dear to my heart”. He wanted his followers “to vote blue in the 2020 election”. So with an audience of 190 million, he officially endorsed former VP Joe Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.  

His caption read “As a political independent and centrist for many years, I’ve voted for Democrats in the past and as well as Republican. In this critical election, I believe Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best to lead our country, and as my first ever (public) Presidential endorsement, I proudly endorse them for the presidential office of our United States.” At the time of the post, The Rock had 198 million followers on Instagram, and with him rumoured to earn up to $1 million per sponsored Instagram post, he has a lot sway in the world of social media.

“it expressed a message near and dear to my heart”

Prior to this post, when The Rock posted content, his millions of adoring fans would applaud him with nothing but kind words and platitudes, however this post changed everything.

A Rolling Rock Obviously Gathers No Moss

Many Trump fans took to his account to leave their comments of dislike, and to praise their man-child of a President. Did it harm his account?

Actually no. It has grown even more, to well over 200 million. So exactly how can we define that success? In votes? In followers? Just how influential was his message in shaping the political landscape? It is near impossible to measure. It’s not like there are statisticians standing outside each polling station waiting to ask every voter questions like “which celebrity influenced your vote”?

Public attitudes.

A recent study by the YouGov-Cambridge Centre concluded that only 14% of British voters think social media is good for society.

In the same study it shows clearly that many voters actually doubt the internet has been positive for political campaigning.

According to another recent study, the USA public attitudes toward political engagement on social media are equally as eye-opening. 42% get involved online with social or political issues that are important to them, while 37% feel that social media offers a place to express their political opinions.

I am not writing this with the suggestion that celebrities should be left out of all political discourse, however I do feel that in a world where celebrities with huge social media reach are role models and supposed policy experts, there is no limit to just much they can influence the shaping of public opinion; particularly with Generation Z.

What about the older citizens? Could older generations start using social media as an online activism tool?  Professor Jen Shradie suggests “Online activism was supposed to be a utopian dream. Rather than rely on big institutions, everyone’s voices were supposed to be heard,” she says. She goes on to suggest that online activism tends to attract the younger generations to engage, not to mention the better educated; and those with the technology and communication skills do tend to get their point across to win online arguments. After all, older generations obviously hold opinions, but many of these may not be getting captured online.

It’s voting time

So, could politically uneducated, yet powerfully influential PR astute celebrities like The Rock be seen as being a potentially dangerous combination in the overall process of forming social opinion within the political sphere? Perhaps, this is a conversation we should be engaging in more often.

Gary Gates is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on: LinkedIn – Gary Gates

How David Attenborough is changing the world using modern media, one millennial at a time

How David Attenborough is changing the world using modern media, one millennial at a time
Sir David Attenborough becomes fastest person to reach one million  followers on Instagram

There is likely no one on this earth who has had a life similar to David Attenborough’s. He lived through a world war, was in the navy, has a knighthood and has won countless television awards. From whales to polar bears he has seen it all. Attenborough is now 94, and still wants to help us protect our planet. Even though most people would start slowing down at his age, he feels it is his duty to give us the information we need to save our planet, even if it involves new methods of communication he has never used before.

I first remember seeing Attenborough every Sunday night after my roast dinner on Planet Earth. I always was amazed by his voice and his complete love for the animals but above all his knowledge. He talks about how he has known there was a problem for years but wanted to have researched it to the absolute max before he got his message out and to know the best forms of communication to get it out. I think this is the most impressive thing about him. Given the current state of the environment, it is imperative that something is done to stop the continual destruction of the planet. David Attenborough knows this, but more importantly, knows that the people who could actually make the difference are not the older generations, but the millennials. He has realised it is something that we need to be brought up with and that the solutions must be given before people have a chance to make the mistakes. From his advertising and marketing for his new Netflix film, this is abundantly clear.

Sir David Attenborough breaks Instagram record for fastest time to reach  one million followers | Guinness World Records

On the 24th September 2020, Attenborough started his first Instagram account breaking the Guinness World Record for fastest user to Reach one million followers in just four hours and forty-four minutes. Breaching from the normal forms of communication he has used over the last sixty years, this highlights how he and his marketing team are taking advantage of modern media. This was definitely not a whim from Attenborough so that he can finally post pictures of himself and his friends on holiday, but a stroke of marketing genius. This was exactly the media attention he needed before the release of his Netflix film. It had everyone talking about it, and everyone going to look at his account. When you arrive at his account it is simply flooded with poignant videos highlighting environmental issues. These have all racked up millions of views, which completely proves that social media is now the most effective form of communication there is. This account has enabled him to reach a plethora of people that would not normally be interested in him or the environment.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020) - IMDb

Another very interesting use of modern media is the fact he chose Netflix to stream his new film ‘A Life On Our Planet’ on the 28th September. This is another first for Attenborough, as all his previous shows like Our Planet, were aired on BBC. This again shows that he and his marketing team know television doesn’t have the same traction it used to, especially with younger generations like millennials. I know if I had to chose between Sky and Netflix, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose Netflix. It is also known that families nowadays are scrapping their Sky subscriptions altogether due to its very expensive monthly fees and opting for the much cheaper and more accessible Netflix. I definitely feel like it is difficult today in modern society to find a millennial who doesn’t have access to a Netflix account, whether they have their own or whether they know their friend’s password. This is key in Attenborough’s attempt to make the younger generation aware of the problems in the environment. I found the movie extremely eye opening because I definitely wasn’t aware of the extent of the problem. If we want our kids to live in a better world we need to make changes now.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet | Official Trailer | Netflix -  YouTube

I find this new presentation of Attenborough fascinating as it is easy just to see him as a very old man that my parents talk about sometimes. However after using these new forms of communication, it almost seems like he is more relatable and more in tune with the world as it is now. It seems to add validity to his message as this is how young people get information nowadays. It is also astonishing to see how wide an audience he can really reach, and how quickly he can do so, just by branching out of his comfort zone and away from his usual platforms of advertising. I think he is a great man and has done so much for our planet, I just hope it isn’t too late!

A young Sir David Attenborough | David attenborough young, David  attenborough, Famous faces

Charlotte Cockcroft is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn – Charlotte Cockcroft, Twitter – @Charlottecockcr and Instagram – @charlottecockcroft .

Instagram Vs Reality

When I sat down to write my first blog, with not a clue what to write about I did what I do best every time I procrastinate. I lifted up my phone, clicked on Instagram and began pointlessly scrolling. It was then that it clicked, Instagram really is one big illusion.

There’s so much more to life than the perfect Instagram post, so many hiccups and imperfections covered up by a filter.

For me personally, I took a scroll through my own Instagram feed. It went like this – two weeks in California for Christmas, a summer touring around California with my best friend, winning Camogie championship with my best friends, trips to Dublin and London and plenty of nights out in between. Yeah you could say I’ve had a pretty good year but in reality I’ve also had the most mentally challenging and toughest year imaginable.  

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Here’s a small insight – It began last March when my Granda died, as this was the first death of someone very close to me, it hit me and my whole family hard, he was a big part of all our lives. Then 13 months later, my aunty Orla died. 49 years of age, the life and soul of every room she walked into, vivacious, healthy and with so much more to give and fulfil in her life. How could this happen to her? When she took herself to the hospital a few days after she came home from holidays with what she thought was a ‘bug’ from the plane home little did she, or any of us, know that within just 60 short days she would’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer with secondary tumours in her lymph nodes, liver and kidneys and die.

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My aunty Orla and I at my 21st birthday, 5 weeks before she died.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain the sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, depression and grief that has overtaken me this past year but what I do know for sure is that it’s ok to feel like this and it’s ok to ask for help, as hard as it is to admit to.

I know for sure there are many friends and maybe even family members of mine reading this now who were totally unaware of the way I’ve been feeling. What I’m trying to say is that it’s easy to post an Instagram story out for lunch on a Saturday but what you don’t see is the anxiety attacks, petit mal seizures*, days of meltdown, tears and not leaving my bed that had happened before I finally headed out for that lunch.

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The thing I’ve learnt about grief is that it affects everyone differently and at different times. I remember straight after Orla died I was so confused why I wasn’t so sad all of the time and felt bad about it and it wasn’t until my granny sadly passed away after a long 13 years of suffering profound brain damage from a car accident in September that all of a sudden I became sad, angry and confused about Orla’s death – grief just having it’s moment. In the midst of this, my dad had taken a heart attack and had two stents put in. As if I wasn’t stressed and anxious enough, being the complete daddy’s girl that I am I was struggling to come to terms with everything that had gone on, the fear of what if it was too late for my dad, it was tough.

Anyway, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that everyone is fighting a battle none of us are aware of. Loosing 3 very influential and special people within 17 months has been an extremely tough time for me yet looking at my social media outlets you’d be none the wiser.

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Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to scroll through and post on Instagram but at the end of the day Instagram is like our ‘life highlight reel’, our social media persona and I’ve learnt not to compare myself to other people. The point is this—do not fall victim to the highlight reel. Do not fixate on the lives of others, don’t compare your life to someone else’s. No one’s life is perfect. As my very wise Granda used to say “be slow to blame, you might’ve done the same.”

Thanks for reading!

Niamh Mac Manus is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter – @niamh_mac_manus, Instagram – @niamhmacmanus_ and Linked In: Niamh Mac Manus

*An absence seizure is a form of internal epilepsy which causes you to blank out or stare into space for a few seconds and can result in you becoming forgetful.

Cheating Your Way to Instagram Likes

Here we are in the Digital Era where social media rules the world, well not exactly but it does play a massive part in society. Today I’m taking the leap and blogging for the first time, sure everyone’s got to start somewhere. I decided instead of telling you about myself (which will come in my following posts) that I’d give you some helpful tips to keep those likes rolling in on your Instagram. There’s more to it than just uploading a post, there’s an art to posting and I’m going to share with you the four key factors.

  1. Prime Time

If you are into ‘Likes’ and getting as many as possible, well then I hope you already know this one. But if not let me tell you a bit about prime time. It’s probably the most important thing for getting likes. Knowing when to post not even what to post. Although, this does change from time to time. At the moment prime time is on Thursdays, both around 3pm and 9pm. Whether it’s the day when everyone’s got fed up at work or if it’s a night that people decide to sit in and chill either way people are checking their feeds that bit more.

It’s simple the more people that see your posts the more chances of getting likes you have.      

go like my post

  1. Golden Hour

If you’re in the selfie mood make sure you don’t miss golden hour. Lucky enough depending on the day there can be two golden hours. For those who don’t know this is the hour shortly after sunrise and just before sunset. Although, we can’t take all our photos at golden hour when the natural lighting is actually good it’s important to make sure the alternative lighting is actually working for you. Get moving, check all angles, try flash on and flash off until you find the perfect spot and lighting.

Lighting in photos is key, you don’t want to be using too many filters. However, if you need to use a filter, be smart about it. Make sure it improves the image as a whole not just cover the fact your face looks a bit red or makes that spot less obvious.

Oh, and be aware it doesn’t always last an hour. So get snapping when you can!

golden hour

  1. Think Square

The most annoying thing about Instagram, well apart from the fact you can’t add to your highlights without having to add the picture to your story, is the fact that most of your images don’t fit in the box that Instagram provides. Leaving most people having to put silly boarders around their photos. To be honest, I’m always this annoying person. You know yourself that on nights out it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when taking a photo.

Tips to avoid needing a boarder are to take the photos from far away so that when the Instagram box crops them they’re only cutting out the unnecessary parts of the image. Another trick is to take your photos using the square setting on IPhone’s. Sorry, I’m not quite sure if this is called on other phones. If you’re really stuck try taking the photo directly on Instagram.

fitting

  1. Captions

Captions can make or break a post. It’s easy just to choose a smiley face and post, but that’s not the best thing to do. There’s an art to writing a good caption.

Take your time thinking. Show your personality. Use your humour. Don’t be too formal or serious. If you make people laugh or smile then your post is giving off a positive impression and that’s what you ultimately want. Trust me it can be harder than you think. If you’re unsure keep it brief, no one goes on Instagram to read an essay unless you’re an influencer.

Personally, I tend to avoid going for too many emoji’s. The same goes for hashtags as I only use a personal Instagram and have it on private. However, if you are using these make sure they’re relevant and you only use a few, 3 or 4 max. Plus, check your spelling (and grammar) as this will be one of the first things people notice and trust me people will be cringing for you.

Remember a good caption encourages engagement.

grandma

By following the four hacks I’ve suggested to you above you can increase your engagement, likes and followers. A final tip I can give to you is to post often and frequently, keep those followers updated. I’m hoping these tips get you them much wanted likes and spruce up your Instagram. Fingers crossed I start to pay more attention to them on my own page and get rid of all those boarders.

Claire Loughran is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-loughran-959871169/

BREAKING NEWS: Instagram Likes MIA

It’s probably hard for most of us to imagine a world where Likes don’t matter. I remember when I was 14 and a selfie I got before Clubland got 24 likes on Facebook. I’ve never felt as famous. But finally, finally, someone has caught themselves on and realised the damage social media pressure is doing to us. Instagram. Is. Getting. Rid. Of. Likes. Supposedly.

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The new feature has been in the works for a few months now, being tested on small groups of users since July in over 7 countries including Canada, Australia and Japan. It’s just about to be trailed in US, meaning it most likely will be active worldwide in the pretty near future. And it’s giving Instagram users a lot of mix feelings.

So what will the change mean? Rather than seeing the number of people who Likes a post, Instagram will show “Liked by [who you fancy If you’re lucky] and others“. Meaning your followers will never know the number of Likes your post got. I mean they technically could count all the users, but who’s really gonna be so bothered to do that? I hope no one. Please spend your time on something more beneficial. If you want too you can see the number of Likes your post got if you click onto it, but only if you chose to do so. It’s easy to avoid the number if you want too. Good bye Instagram Anxiety.

Why are Instagram doing this? Isn’t liking pictures the whole point?

Basically Instagram wants to become the safest place on the internet, with the happiest users. It’s no shock that Instagram has been heavily criticised about its effect on mental health, especially to Generation Z. A 2017 survey carried out by The Royal Society for Public Health & Young Health Movement proved Instagram to be the most likely platform to have a negative effect on young people’s health and well-being. So, when announcing the change Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said,

“the idea is to de-pressurise Instagram and make it a space that’s more focused on connections, conversations and community, especially for young people.”

He wants the app to be a fun place for people to share and connect, not a place where you value your worth over a number.

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So, on a personal level, what do I think of this? I think it’s great and something that should have been done long ago. My personal attitude towards Instagram has changed a lot over the past few years. I’ve grown up (believe it or not) and I do not value my worth through who Likes my Instagram. I post what I want, when I want, as much as I want. Yet, when I was 16, a lot less confident and a lot more vulnerable, my attitude was completely different. A night out was a waste if I didn’t get a photo for the gram, and even If I did get a photo, was it really Insta worthy? Would it get good Likes? What if no one Likes it? What if it gets less Likes that my last photo? How come she got loads of Likes and I didn’t? I’d turn off my Instagram notifications after I uploaded so I’d never know if my post was getting Likes or not. And the most ridiculous of all, but I know you all did it too, I would have waited until “prime time” to post to make sure I’d get the best chance of Likes. Why was there RULES for posting a photograph on Instagram.

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So many unnecessary worries for a young teenage girl, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that, wouldn’t we be lucky if that was all we had to worry about nowadays. So yeah, the removal of the Likes feature will be a definite step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step in making the platform a safe and happy place for users. Have Instagram forgot about the comments? If Instagram are really looking out for the safety and happiness of their users, this is the real danger. Even Cardi B and Kim Kardashian have called Instagram out on this saying much more needs to be done to protect its users, starting with the removal of the comment feature.

All this aside, we must think of the people who aren’t using Instagram for personal use. Canadian Influencer Kate Weiland is not one bit pleased about the new change as Likes are what tells her what her audience enjoy, and what they want to see from her. She looks at Likes as though it’s the audience clapping at the end of a performance. Without Likes, it’ll be an awkward silence.

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Influencers, artists and celebrities relay a lot on their Instagram performance for income. Influencers are freaking out about how the change will impact their income, if not their entire career. Thinking if brands can’t see the number of likes their racking up for a sponsored post, how will they know the impact they have on consumer behaviour? How will they impress brands and make them want to approach them for sponsorship? But brands have spoken out about the issue and have explained how to them, likes are only “surface” level and what they care most about is other metrics such as engagement, URL clickthroughs, swipe ups and all that influencery stuff, which is a lot more important than a Like on a photo that most people probably forget about after they scroll past it, or Like on reflex without even realising it.

The change will mean people will be more experimental with their content, something I’d love to see. Influencers and celebrities will engage more with their followers about real stuff,  not what they think will get the most likes. And us nobodies, we’ll post what we want to, without thinking what our followers will think of it. I give Instagram a round of applause for the first step in taking away with social media pressures we all face today.

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Catherine Maguire is a Final Year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

How ITV’s Love Island led ‘I Saw It First’ to become an e-commerce success

FH1

As cliché as it sounds, watching Love Island is everyone’s guilty pleasure. It was only in the series past that I decided to give in and watch the show and I could now understand why my friends were all so engrossed and didn’t want our evening plans to surpass 9pm. For 8 weeks it was the hottest discussions in social outings, work, the gym and even my mummy tried keeping up to date with the latest goss about the islanders so she could be in the know. Whilst watching these rising celebrities to be and their relationship drama unfold did you ever wonder how and where they got the look? Last year, it was reported that the shows fashion sponsor Missguided achieved an increase in sales of 40% when the show aired. Was it possible for I Saw It First to match or exceed this achievement as they signed an exclusive partnership for series 5 of the show?

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I Saw It First, who were relatively unknown before sponsoring ITV’s Love Island are a fast-fashion brand who provide for the glamorous, fashion obsessed female. Keeping up with the latest trends they never fail to end the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ dilemma and all at an affordable price. Only having been on the market since 2017, I Saw It First have been on one hell of a journey. From obtaining an innovative sponsorship with the lavish Ocean Beach Ibiza to collaborations with Cindy Kimberly, Lolo Wood and Stassie (yeah, just google them) they have managed to put themselves on the fashion map.

The majority of Love Island viewers come from millennials and Gen Z; two of the biggest generations who are the true digital natives. It comes with no shock that social media was going to manifest the experience of the show as viewer’s more than likely sit with their smartphone in hand refreshing Twitter for the latest on what others had to say, like really do we ever put them down anyway? The clothing company used this as part of their strategy to help with the increase of sales. Before the show, islanders were given a nice little allowance to choose any clothes from the summer collection to wear on-screen. Not only did this create a closer relationship between the brand and islanders, perhaps allowing for them to work together in the long run but it also provided organic content to be uploaded rather than the traditional sponsored posts, conveying good old brand personality.

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Wanting to avoid anything Love Island related? Then it was best to avoid Twitter itself if you could. Swamped with memes, spoilers and outfit highlights it was the number one app to keep updated on the goss from the villa. When the first episode of series 5 aired, reports show there were over 400,000 tweets mentioning Love Island. This was I Saw It First’s time to shine as they cleverly included the Love Island hashtag in their tweets to take advantage of the incredible reach. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

The e-tailer also created a hashtag on Twitter; #ISawIsland so users could easily search for those savvy neon dresses and funky bikinis, providing a link straight to the item so it could be purchased there and then. In addition to this, they created a Love Island hub on their website with profiles of each female islander and individual story highlights of each female on Instagram with a swipe-up link so you didn’t have to go through endless pages of clothes, very convenient. They also integrated their product placement onto the show’s click-to-buy app. When using the app to vote, users were surrounded with advertisements that provided a direct link to any of the items featured, giving viewers an easy way to find and shop the outfits seen on screen whilst allowing them to build an association of the two brands. Talk about dedication! Or just really wanting to up those sales.

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I Saw It First really do have their finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. Landing this opportunity with a show that has 6 million viewers tells us that the traditional methods of marketing makes for powerful advertising formula, using reality TV as a vehicle for influencer marketing. As a result of collaborating with the show it led them to an increase of 67% in sales month on month. They continue to be consistent with their methods throughout all their social channels and ensure their content is fresh and engaging, having gained 905k followers which comes with a fantastic opportunity to access their target market even more. The partnership focuses on an audience that have the talent of scrolling miles on their phone and watching the show at the same time.

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With social commerce on the rise, rather than consumers making direct purchases through retailer websites, they’re discovering products on social platforms and perusing their purchases there, a drive to be the new online marketplace. I Saw It First’s Love Island hub, their Instagram profile and the Love Island app provide endless opportunities to do so, a marketing masterpiece.

Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn – Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

 

Hidden Gems…Great for the Gram

I’ll get straight to the point here, let’s face it. There are so many places in Ireland that maybe you don’t care for or maybe you haven’t even heard of. Yes, I agree it’s fabulous to visit other countries, but why not try exploring our own for a change? Even if it’s just for a day trip. 

I promise, if you stick with me, until the end of this post, you WILL want to visit at least one of these places, and you will not be disappointed. 

The Belfast Beauty

Ok, going to start off with one close to home, and one which you have all definitely heard of. The Botanical Gardens. Now yea, it may sound ‘main stream,’ or not really a ‘hidden gem’ as such, but tell me how many of you have actually taken a walk through it and took the time to really take it in? 

My guess is not very many of you…

The Botanical Gardens is full of blossoming flowers and plants in every season, my favourite obviously being summer, when it is full of bright colours.

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So, next time you’re there, take your time, explore it, and I promise you, you will not be disappointed. 

On an extra note, girls…and boys, it makes for a perfect Instagram spot! 

 

Newtownstewart’s Nature (Co.Tyrone) 

Moving closer to my hometown of Newtownstewart *eyeroll* is what I’m sure you are all thinking. What could it possibly have to offer? To be fair, I would be thinking the same thing… ‘like, seriously?’

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I’m sure you have all seen the sunflower fields EVERYWHERE on social media at some point, yet many of you will never have been, or maybe just didn’t know where to go. Well, if good oul’ Newtown is good for something, it’s good for its’ Sunflower Fields in the summer months!

And who couldn’t love a sunflower, am I right? 

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Granny for one agrees!

 

So, take a trip down to the country and get those profile pics, and pick your own sunflowers to brighten up your home! 

Remember: Bring some pennies, because it’s always for a good charitable cause!!

 

Beautiful Butterfly Farm (Co.Down)

Anyone who knows me knows I have had an obsession with butterflies from a very young age, and have in-fact only recently re-decorated my girlie purple butterfly themed bedroom, to a more suitable décor, for a 20 year old…boring I know. 

So, when I took my first trip to the butterfly farm, I was so excited… and yes, I’ll admit it…. I cried.  

One of the cutest experiences I’ve had in Northern Ireland, I couldn’t believe that there were so many butterflies flying around and you could get so close to them. 

I did at one point consider taking one home, but don’t worry, I settled for a butterfly fridge magnet instead. 

I recommend wearing bright clothes, as it attracts the butterflies so you can get those pics, and it’s bloody warm in that green house, so if you don’t want to pass out, wear light clothes!

Admission: £4.50 Adult/ £3.50 students and stay for as long as you wish. (You’ll want to stay forever, trust me.)

Let’s move this on and take it down south…

Downings’ Dazzlers (Co.Donegal) 

So, I’ve been going to Downings with the fam since birth, quite literally, so this may be a slightly biased opinion, but I’m just going to say it, Downings has to have thee best beaches in the world. To name a few, Murder Hole (horrible name, lovely beach) Monks bay (Personal Fav) Rosapenna (longest beach in the world NEVER agree to a family walk, it’s never the short walk, it’s all lies.) and finally, Tranarossan (aka the pebble beach).

There is so much to do here, on the beaches, and in the water, so take a day, a week, however long you have, but go go go! It’s a must!

The beaches will speak for themselves, and your camera won’t know what’s hit it!

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Alright Pumpkin (Co.Meath)

Don’t ask what possessed me to take this 2-hour long road trip (we took a few wrong turns) with my bestie, but, I did. And am I glad I did? 

…Absolutely. 

Not only did we get (personal opinion) thee best Instagram pics, it was an all-round enjoyable experience, especially in the run up to the spooky season!

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The sun was out, and we parked up the mini, opposite a sea of orange! We got our pics, and picked our favourite pumpkins to take home and carve! This is only open on the weekends and I’d go sooner rather than later incase all the good pumpkins are gone!

If this isn’t enough to entice you, it’s free admission and you only have to pay if you’d like a pumpkin (note: remember Euros and bring your wellies!)

But seriously…make the trip, and your Instagram will thank me later!

 

Chloe Hood is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Twitter: @chloekathryn4 and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-kathryn-hood-224033153

 

WAGatha Christie

What we can learn from wags at war.

In case you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, I’m going to bring you up to speed in what has become a bigger debate than BREXIT!

Basically, Queen Bee wag Coleen Rooney took to social media to expose long-term (or should I say ex) friend and fellow wag Rebekah Vardy, for selling stories to the Sun newspaper. To cut a long story short, Rooney concocted an elaborate plan by creating ‘fake news’ stories and blocking everyone bar Vardy’s account to see if they would infiltrate into the media…low and behold, they did! See below tweet:

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In what can only be described as a plot like that of literary legend, Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (which has now coined what I believe to be the greatest pun of 2019) or an EastEnders’s ‘who dunnit???’, it has left the UK divided.

Rebecca Vardy, who is heavily pregnant (which will become relevant later on) has denied all accusations made against her. Once again, she took to social media to release a statement wishing that Coleen should have called her if she had these suspicions and discussed the matter privately.

This nicely leads on to the point I’m trying to make about privacy and the ‘exposing’ culture that has become a toxic cesspit in a modern era.

Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and has become a crux in many people’s day to day lives. Although I have tried (forced myself) to see the positives in using social media, the only advantages I could come up with are career related. For example, being proficient in social media platforms is now a highly desired skill on any CV and could ultimately lead to a career in digital marketing. However, wasn’t SOCIAL media invented as a tool to connect with people around the world, stay in contact with long-distance friends or relatives, develop friendships and connections?

Don’t get me wrong I’d be lying if I too didn’t take a leaf out of Coleen’s book and put my sleuthing skills to use (You have too don’t lie, ‘creeping’ counts). However, what concerns me is the increasing need to publicly expose people which in turn has greater knock on effects for everyone involved. Ultimately, I believe this story to be an example of why the novelty of social media has worn off and when it boils down to it a major contributor towards a failed friendship.

We should all now be aware that anything we put online is never fully private…we’ve sat through enough lectures to know this by now. Therefore, I believe we can learn from the sensationalism surrounding this story even if they are both high profile people (even if one is married to Wayne Rooney…) compared to myself or you.

SG2Rebekah Vardy left, Coleen Rooney right. Bottom left, me watching the drama unfold.

Although many people have taken to show their support for Coleen, it has also raised the question as to whether or not Rebekah should be as cruelly attacked by the public and tabloids given she is heavily pregnant. I’ve decided not to take sides, I’m merely a spectator using this purely as a form of escapism and for my love of memes. However, having said this I would not wish this upon anyone. The level of ‘trolling’ Rebekah has received I can not even begin to imagine.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the SOCIAL element of social media is more or less non-existent in today’s society. In fact, according to RSPH’s (Royal Society for Public Health) 2017 report, ‘Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing’, concluded startling figures including:
• Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70% in the past 25 years.
• Cyber bullying is a growing problem with 7 in 10 young people saying they have experienced it.
• Around 70% of 18-24 years olds would consider having a cosmetic surgical procedure.

New legislations being rolled out to ‘reduce’ this e.g. Instagram ‘hiding’ the number of likes a celebrity receives or Facebook continually filtering negative content. However, I believe this to be of no use and instead we need to look at it in a smaller context. I know I’m never going to achieve 1m likes so what use is this legislation to me? Yes, we all have the option to block, report or unfriend someone in the hopes of removing any negativity or simply the old out of sight out of mind trick. But Coleen didn’t do that did she? Coleen didn’t make THAT phone call? So why should we?

I’ll tell you why, save yourself the drama!

SG3Rebekah Vardy’s twitter response.

Like my blog post this story will probably be old news. However, the implications of a story like this upon impressionable teenagers or simply copycats could be detrimental. I don’t want to end my blog all doomy and gloomy so let me challenge you this. Next time you use social media, think about why you’re using it, whether or not you’re actually being SOCIABLE and if someone’s bothering you whether or not it’s worth having a conversation or even a phone call…

Case closed.

SG4My favourite meme

Please let me know your thoughts on this. Do you agree? Who’s side are you taking?

You can find me at,

It’s……….Susan’s Greer’s account.

Joking.

Susan Greer is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusanGr15481563
and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susan-greer-527b79165/

Time to unfollow the influencers?

Time to unfollow the influencers?

With 66% of the UK online population using some form of social media, there’s no denying that social media plays a significant role in our daily lives. It has changed how we keep in touch with friends, read the latest headlines, and how we shop for the latest fashion trends.

With most Millenniums and Generation Z’ spending countless hours scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – Brands are always looking for new ways to target their audience.

Call in the Influencers…

The latest marketing trend brands are using to target their audience is through the use of social media influencers or influencer marketing.

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After a quick Google search, a ‘social media influencer’, can be a described as, “a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by their authenticity and reach”.

An influencer can either be an everyday person like you or me (with a lot larger Instagram following), the latest Love Island contents, or the ‘official’ celebrity.

Essentially, brands will send free PR Packages to these ‘influencers’, who will then post a sponsored ad about the product on their social media accounts. Or an Influencer will be paid an agreed amount on each time they post about the brands product. Brands utilize influencers in the hope that their influence will result in more people buying their products.

Influencers are promoting everything from cars, to hotels, to beauty products, to shoes, to diets, and a whole lot more.

This is why you may have seen a lot of your fav’ celebs’ or the so-called ‘insta famous’ with #ad #sp on some of their posts.

Big business…

An influencer with an Instagram following of around a million can command £10,000 for a one-off post. An influencer with between 3,000 and 10,000 followers can expect to earn £50-£100 per post. Keeping these figures in mind, influencer marketing is fast becoming one of the most effective online marketing strategies for brands. Recently, brands have raised their budgets for influence marketing between 3 – 6%, with $2 billion in the last year being spent on influencer marketing overall.

Owner of Cocoa Brown Tan, Marissa Carter seen the full effect of influencer marketing, when one sponsored post by Kylie Jenner seen her product sell out in 24 hours.

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And it’s not just celebrities making money out of influencer marketing. In December 2018, a mother revealed to the Daily Mail that her baby boy, aged one, who is an Instagram influencer has already gotten £10k in freebies (including a different pram for every day of the week). Ralphie Waplington, aged one, from Essex, has an Instagram following of 14,000. The boy’s mother, Stacey Woodhams, runs the account, with Ralphie’s wardrobe and bedroom furniture all provided free by brands and the family enjoys days out in exchange for posts on Ralphie’s account. However, this has been received with backlash, as some seeing this as child exploitation.

On the way out…

Content creation is now in the hands of influencers and who are providing a key role in the story that brands communicate. In order for influencer marketing to be successful, influencers content must be authentic and original.

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With brands and influencers both having a very successful 2018, it’s hard in seeing the influencer marketing trend going anywhere. However, some experts predict there will be a decline in social media influencers is on the horizon in 2019.

Today alone, it’s hard not to scroll through Instagram and not spot at least one sponsored post. Influencer marketing has become too mainstream, too commercialised, and too common. Content is becoming less organic and genuine, you get a sense that influencers are only doing it to gain a few more followers, and gain a lot more money.

I may be wrong, but I feel as if influencers are on the way out for 2019.

Ruth Leonard is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram – @ruthleonard_ / Twitter – @RuthLeonard_ / LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/ruth-leonard-057860129/

Influencers Worthy of a Follow

It’s no secret that social media and PR has become inundated with influencer marketing. With YouTubers and bloggers making more money than most upcoming musicians, artists and actors, this is a sector not to be ignored. In a recent study Influencer Marketing Hub found that the market size of ‘influencer marketing’ in 2018 was said to be worth $4.6 billion and set to rise to $6.5 billion in 2019. Figures more than doubled from 2017, suggesting that this market is likely to keep growing and growing.

In a world full of “famous” people who were made rich through selling charcoal teeth whitening strips or selling their soul on Love Island it’s hard to tell who’s actually genuine and worthy of that follow. Believe me, I watch Love Island as much as the next person but do I think they are the most authentic salespeople? No, probably not. Maybe we should look at some of those influential content creators who’ve spent years of their life building their brand on YouTube, blogging or creating products and deserve a little bit more of our respect?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Influencer Insights 2017-19 Studies

 

While it’s very easy to critique these so-called ‘influencers’, they are beginning to have a direct impact on our lives and if you work in this industry you’re more than likely going to be dealing with them at some point in your career. In 2017, Influencer Insights conducted a survey that found 47% of people turned to social media to research a brand. This is a huge element to consider when deciding what influencers to work with.

In Influencer Insights’ first study in 2017 they likened influencer marketing to word-of-mouth marketing with an updated twist. This is a very interesting outlook which forces us to ask if the novelty of influencers is their ability to relate to their consumer? And will we see this change as the years go on and honest opinions perhaps become less authentic? Only time will tell.

Influencer Insights

So, we should follow those people who drive important conversations, influencers and brands that are transparent with their sponsorships, people who create original content and ultimately those who are morally ethical with their posts (maybe not those promoting detox ‘skinny teas’). As when an influencer aligns their marketing methods with their own key values the brands they’re working with are introduced to a huge, yet targeted, segment of the market. Not only should we, as PR practitioners, choose carefully the people we work with, those people should too choose their brands appropriately and selectively.

Below is a list I’ve compiled of people that have stood out in a saturated but ever-growing industry, as well as their current Insta stats;

@Uhnonee- 131K followers

Oenone is a British personal trainer, influencer, activist, podcaster and blogger. With ‘The Tiny Tank’ as her original Insta handle, she is a ‘tiny’ girl with lots to say. She openly admits being brainwashed by social media in her earlier days and continuously calls out myths being marketed online. Upon listening to her podcast ‘Adulting’ I have learned so much about feminism, socialism and it’s really opened my eyes to the privileges I have in society. Oenone is unique, well-spoken and comes across really genuine, making her channels a must-listen. Glancing quickly at her Instagram page you would think she’s just a normal fitness influencer but if you click onto the posts and read the captions she actually juxtaposes standard bikini posts with lengthy, motivational and often significant captions. She opens conversations and initiates discussions, something hugely important in today’s society.

@SammiMaria- 571K followers

Sustainable fashion is a huge, important topic at the moment and many influencers are starting to raise awareness where they can. Check out Sammi’s video explaining how she is trying to cut down her fashion footprint and also naming brands that do their best to reduce their environmental impact.

I started following Sammi (formerly ‘The Beauty Crush’) about 7 years ago now. Influencers weren’t a ‘thing’ when I first started watching YouTube and from following Sammi’s channel alone I have seen just how much this market has grown. Unlike Tanya Burr, Zoella and Fleur deForce I never really grew out of Sammi’s content. She has been transitional over the years and despite her own worries of not being ‘up-to-date’ with the algorithms, I really think she has done well. Speaking out about her own battles with anxiety, domestic abuse and bulimia she has shared a lot with her millions of followers. Her energy is radiating, she seems truly authentic and her child Indie is one of the cutest on YouTube (If you needed any more reasons to follow!)

@HealthyLittleLifter- 71K followers

For the fitness fanatics out there Aisling is a must-follow.

For some people following tons of fitness influencers may not be beneficial to their mental health, and we should be wary of that. But for people who are looking for that motivation to improve their diet and adopt a healthier lifestyle- follow Dr Aisling Gough. She’s from Belfast and is also a registered doctor with a wide range of knowledge to support her ideas, so I think we can trust her opinion. She posts infograms with truly useful tips, shows you how you can track a Boojum on a ‘diet’ and continuously links new medical studies to better inform her audience. Despite competing in WBFF she hasn’t let this alter her food mentality. This is certainly refreshing and Aisling is a great role model for people who have an interest in health and fitness.

@NellyLondon- 46K followers

Nelly is by no means a ‘larger model’ but she has curves and comes across more ‘real’ than many people on Insta. She was part of Missguided’s #MakeYourMark campaign and regularly speaks out about body confidence, her struggles with eating disorders and her radiating confidence is motivational.

@DrJoshuaWolrich- 137K followers

Joshua recently changed his Insta handle from @Unfattening to his real name. Contrary to the ‘Unfattening’ brand he actually posted nothing about weight loss. He used this trap to get people to his page, conversely trying to encourage an anti-weight loss mindset and bettering people’s attitudes towards foods.

Already a registered NHS doctor and a following that’s growing massively, Joshua is one to watch out for. After being introduced to him on Oenone’s podcast I started following and found his content really refreshing. I’ve already learned so much from his posts and he makes you think about why you call certain foods ‘bad’ or ‘good’. Not only does he correct popular misbeliefs, he also makes you aware of the fake news that circulates the internet in terms of fat loss. In terms of health these myths can be extremely detrimental to young people’s mental health and sometimes even dangerous. This is why accounts like Joshua’s are so important in 2019.

@JBone89- 141K followers

Jordan (or Jordan’s Beautiful Life for blog followers) is a blogger, YouTuber and author who suffered a car accident in 2005, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. She writes about the usual beauty, lifestyle and fashion topics while proving that influencers don’t always have to fit a certain mould. She’s inspiring to read and follow, check out Jordan’s Instagram page here.

@JameelaJamil- 1M followers

I’m sure you’ve already seen the radio presenter and actress’ #IWeigh campaign which already has over 342,000 followers on Instagram in itself. The campaign aims to encourage people to not base their self-worth on the number on a scale, instead weighing up other attributes of your life. Jameela is using her celebrity status coupled with her own overcoming of an eating disorder to call out celebrities and brands which aren’t doing enough. She’s even recently started a change.org campaign to ban celebrities promoting detox teas which you can view here. Definitely worthy of a follow.

@GraceFitUK- 1M followers

If you haven’t heard of Grace you must have been hiding under a rock for the past year as her brand has completely blown up with an Instagram that has just crept over 1 million followers. She’s a seemingly ‘normal’ girl from London who goes to university at Oxford, maintains friendships and has created a hugely successful but also sustainable fitness brand. At only 21 Grace really is one to watch.

From a career perspective Grace produces some really informative content. In a recent YouTube video talking about the ‘influencer’ job role I learned so much information about the career and how brands can work with these people. Not only did she speak about her own methods of gaining sponsorships and commission, she also videoed an hour-long discussion with other female fitness and beauty influencers speaking openly about how much they get paid, how brands can reach out to them and interesting secrets about the industry. From both a consumer and marketing perspective I found these videos really informative, open, honest and definitely worthy of a watch.

So, to conclude, as the number of influencers out there continues to rise make sure that if anyone you follow on Instagram is making you feel a certain way about yourself, is producing incorrect information or even making you feel like you need to buy something… delete them. It’s not worth it. There is a world of content out there on the internet and we should be using this upsurge in social media use to our advantage- challenging our minds, speaking out about things that need to be spoken about and ensuring we lead a path for generations below us. In an industry overcome with successful females we should be supporting those influencers who are making a difference instead of criticising the career as a whole. We can use this career shift to our advantage. As marketers, advertisers and PR professionals we are in charge of who our brands work with so let’s make sure each influencer we work with is a truly worthy role model.

 Source: Influencer Marketing Hub, influencermarketinghub.com

 

Lauren Wilson is a third-year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently undertaking a year’s placement at Belfast City Council. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurennxwilsonn/