Keeping on top of your digital strategy

I’ll start off easy. For many of you who don’t study anything business or marketing related, you may look at the words ‘Digital Strategy’ and freak out. More haunting words that sound like you’re travelling down the wrong path, but once you come to grips with it you can turn your business into an overnight success. Okay, maybe not overnight, but you get what I mean!

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Having a clear understanding of what Digital Strategy is, allows you to start working on building your reputation and stacking up the dollars on a digital scale. ‘Digital strategy’ can be summarised in seven words – “achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies” (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2012). Analysing a straightforward definition like that makes it feel like we’re reading ‘Digital Strategy for Dummies’ and that it could all be so simple, but we still need to consider our hyper-competitive marketplaces to allow us to take control.

So how powerful is a Digital Strategy?

In a recent study ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ by Smart Insights it concluded 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital strategy. Shocking. We’re now in 2018 and almost half of business leaders don’t realise this is how you let your business grow? You need to start making a plan! And fast.

Thankfully we have progressed since the release of the first website and the digital world continues to get more interesting. Your business can now take to the stage in more than just the newspaper, it can feature on social media sites I’m certain you’re familiar with (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), e-mail marketing, classified ads and the easiest way of-mobile marketing. All inside that device you throw into your back pocket-well that’s if you’ve progressed from the Nokia 3310, also known as ‘The Indestructible’.

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Depending on the aspect you want your business to take and the marketing strategy you have in place, ensuring you’re going to reach the target audience you want, your knowledge of the route you want to lead needs to be concise and creative in order for it to work. Websites that are easy to use are key, keeping up with market trends, your performance as a business-how quickly you respond and the manner that you respond in, also promotional messages. Simple actions will have loyal customers rolling in, forming that purchase and re-purchase behaviour. For example-Domino’s daily texts and e-mails with discount codes and saying that they missed me encourages me to scoff those carbs down with no regret. They don’t shy away from the innovative marketing tactics and neither should you. (Which reminds me my Sizzler should be here by now, brb.)

Snapchat recently have integrated a ‘Website link’ feature which allows brands to attach their website in their snaps and direct consumers straight to their website address and browse it without having to close the app. An innovative way to up sell products, especially for smaller businesses who have just started up, increasing their digital presence and opportunity. Hurts my bank balance though.

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Do I need one?

Y-E-S! Having no direction within a business can be an absolute nightmare. And a strategic plan that is not too complicated will allow for the digital objectives that you want to pursue to be achieved. This will allow for a stronger connection with existing customers whilst developing new relationships as a result of adopting use of those digital tools. The start of your plan should be based on a detailed situational analysis. Summarising this as the process by which the company develops a clear understanding of each individual market and then evaluates its significance for the company and for other markets in which the business operates.

Google Analytics is an easily accessible tool can help to monitor these aspects, giving a stronger indication of how your success can measured. They proliferate your awareness of your target audience, improve engagement and interpret the data you need to continue to create this effective digital strategy.

Following PR Smith’s model; SOSTAC allows for a balanced strategic plan and can be used no matter if your business is big or small. Once you have analysed the situation, your objectives come into practice and you want to start engaging with your customers and ensuring their needs are satisfied. The strategy now in this modern technological world would involve getting your advertisements out on social media sites, making yourselves known, zoning in on the areas you want to target and who. With your focused and efficient tactics, the model will allow you to monitor and control, so if problems arise, they can be easily construed and stopped in their tracks before anything too crazy happens.

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What makes it so effective?

Brand identity. Is your presence known? If it’s not then you won’t be remembered in a hurry! You want to make yourself aware on and off the internet bringing brand promise, this needs to be consistent. Kapferer created a brand identity prism that is a good framework for helping you source the answers to questions like; ‘What makes a brand distinguished?’, ‘What is brand equity?’ Kapferer’s (1997) argument that this new model adheres to, is that brand identity is a richer concept to understand and build brands, than just focusing on positioning. Allowing you to determine possible limits for brand development and variation. Then, you’re on the path to success.

See, it’s simpler than you think. Although I do advise that you always plan for the worst as you cannot control every situation or employee that crosses your path. Feedback from customers can be a heart-breaking or a ‘made my day’ experience, reels in opportunities to boost your business, being inspired to improve. As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon says; “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Reputation makes customers.

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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

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.      

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  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!

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  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.

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  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.

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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/

Gone are the days when children dreamed of becoming doctors and nurses – today’s children want to become You Tubers and Vloggers

You Tubers. I mean, I would imagine that most would be aware of what a You Tuber is nowadays but incase you have indeed been living under a rock for the last 10 years, here is a quick explanation of what exactly a You Tuber is…

The explanation of a You Tuber tends to split todays society in half as the definition can vary between two. For example:

Sourced by the ever so trustworthy Urban Dictionary…

‘SomeoneWhoMakesDefinitions’ defines a YouTuber as “Someone who uploads You Tube videos, particularly someone who has some what of a fan base. Although it can mean anyone in YouTube, it specifically means someone who makes videos.”  Whilst, ‘AKACroatalin’, defines a You Tuber as “Someone who posts clips or pontificates on You Tube. Usually a brain-dead nonentity with no friends who is idolised by cretinous preteens who have no life.”

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You can make up your own mind.

It may seem surprising that this activity even pays enough to be taken as a full-time job but it is important to understand that the figures vary depending on many different factors.  For most You Tube channels, it can take more than a few years before they start seeing a consistent income through the use of online advertising, sponsored brand posts via Instagram and by earning money through their amount of views per video.

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British beauty and fashion vlogger, Zoe Sugg, better known as Zoella has an estimated net worth of £2.5 Million as of 2019. She first began her channel in 2009 and currently has almost 5 Million subscribers to her main channel.

According to CelebsNow, You Tube vloggers earn approximately ‘£0.0007 per view’ and Zoella’s channels average out to 22 million clicks per month, resulting to monthly earnings of £15,000.  CelebsNow also reported that her written blog Zoella.co.uk makes around £4,000 per month from ads alone, with approximately 7.4 million clicks each month. Zoe & her boyfriend, Alfie Deyes who also happens to be a YouTuber even have their own wax figures in Madame Tussauds, London!

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I have actually seen these in real life and I can confirm, they are just as creepy in real life as they are in this picture.

But where is the downfall with all of this? Why should we be worried about young children aspiring to be You Tubers?

Due to the likes of Zoella and many others, you may find that a large amount of young teens today when asked ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, they will answer ‘A YouTube Star’.

A recent survey by LEGO & Harris to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing showed that children were three times more likely to want to become a YouTube Star than an astronaut. Only 11% of 8-12 year olds said that they wanted to work for NASA whilst 29% said they wanted to show their life through content online. Five of the top ten earning You Tubers in 2018 were men who filmed themselves playing video games which results in thousands of young boys having a new ambition – playing video games. This is something  that’s widely seen as grim.

“Gone are the days when children dreamed of becoming doctors and nurses – today’s children want to become You Tubers and vloggers,” wrote the Daily Mail in 2017.

And to be honest, I find this is absolutely terrifying! I fully understand that it can be a great outlet for those who flourish when it comes to creativity but we all know how hateful the online world can be and how much of an effect it has on large amount of people’s mental health, especially young people! Some may argue that it’s no different than a child wanting to become a famous athlete, singer or actor but I disagree. People in these jobs can switch off, however, You Tubers & Social Influencers cannot as their life is online.

Children and young teen’s interests no longer lie with getting outside to play with their friends and roll in the mud as quickly as they possibly can, it’s all about getting onto their iPads and iPhones to look up their next You Tube video.

All I can say is that I will forever be thankful that I was born in 1997 and somewhat avoided the deep dark hole of social media at a young age.

 

Laura Magennis is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn at  linked.com/in/laura-magennis-035529157/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Rise and Shine’ of Kylie Jenner

It is without a doubt that everyone under the age of 30 knows the infamous Kylie Jenner who has made her mark on the beauty industry. She was recently proclaimed as the youngest ‘self-made’ billionaire at just 20 years old but given her family background this term is debatable and sparked major controversy in the online community.

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As the youngest member of the Kardashian/Jenner dynasty, it is clear that she had a lucky start to wealth and fame that many cosmetic brands and people can only dream of. Before Kylie Cosmetics there was the hit reality show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, 12 years and 17 seasons later we have seen her life and personal growth projected on our screens. But Kylie became her own person aside from her family and built an enviable social media platform, with 151 Million followers on Instagram she is the 7thmost followed person in the world, alongside sister Kim placing 6th. So, on the marketing aspect of things she had already created her own brand and status even before Kylie Cosmetics, but the financial aid from her family and amazing looks made it easy for her to create her own business and become the woman she is today.

 Ultimate Influencer

There is no question that she is the ‘ultimate influencer’ and unlike a lot of beauty companies she only needs to rely on herself to promote and model her products due to her porcelain features and infamous lips, therefore saving money and creating demand as consumers will see every product on her and influence their decision.  This was unsurprisingly the starting point for kylie cosmetics as the ‘Kylie Jenner lip’ trend peaked in 2015 and is still the standard look for many wanting to get lip filler. Whether it is a new holiday/birthday collection, skincare or Collab with her family, Kylie Cosmetics has come a long way from the ‘OG’ lip kit trio, Candy K, Dolce K and True Brown K.

Although there is a major comparison between Kylies’ personal account (151M) and Kylie’s Cosmetics (22.4M), she is still ahead of her game with beauty giants such as Anastasia Beverly Hills (20M), Jeffree Star Cosmetics (6.9M) and ColourPop (8.6M). All of which specialise in their own products, but have expanded due to the pace of the beauty community, and its demand for new and out of the box products.

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Kylie Cosmetics is able to survive because of successful marketing tactics, and with her being such a relatable and influential figure to a demographic of 18-24-year olds they have developed FOMO. The ‘fear of missing out’ happens to so many of the beauty communities’ consumers as products are marketed on a ‘need to have’ and ‘limited quantity’ bases. An example of this is the very first sale of the original Kylie Lip Kits, the lipstick and liner set came in 3 shades and due to the hype it caused ripples on social media, and those ripples caused waves. The kits were sold out in 30 seconds and crashed the website due to extreme online traffic. With every purchase of a lip kit, girls were being sucked into this fantasy of getting the perfect ‘Kylie lip’. This set the bar for the company and over the years they have expanded into eyeshadows, highlighters, blushes, brows and skincare and became more versatile in such a competitive industry.

In terms of driving demand her brand was based in the US and created urgency from those in other countries to buy her products, meaning people were waiting in different time zones at launches and willing to pay more for shipping. She also used the tactic of pop up shops for the first 2 years of running Kylie Cosmetics. Since her products were only sold online it created a want in customers as it was a one-time opportunity to get her products and potentially meet Kylie, so they were inclined to go. Although she was known for her amazing swatching videos, the pop-up shops gave customers a real-life experience to try the products and not be stuck into the commitment of making a purchase solely based on images and reviews. This is an appealing aspect for her target audience of young women who most likely do not have the income and need to ‘try before you buy’ as her brand was not portrayed as being cheap or drug store.

Whether you gravitate to Kylie or her family, it is undeniable that her marketing strategies are simple but effective, and regardless of her pretty face she is able to connect with her fans and create such a strong brand image that drives demand. But on top of being a makeup mogul she has recently become a ‘meme queen’ with her hilarious line ‘rise and shine’ as she woke up her daughter in one of her YouTube segments, to which she trade-marked and merchandise was on her website within a few days. Further showing she is business savvy by capitalising on viral trends. It will be interesting to see how her empire develops as she recently sold 51% of the company to COTY, who deal with the likes of Rimmel and Covergirl, as well as other major self-care brands. They see potential in expanding Kylie Cosmetics and Kylie Skin into more in-store retailers around the US and internationally.

Chloe Light is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University.  She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-light-358421172/ and Instagram @Chloe_lightbulb

 

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with social media; why?

Pros:

  • Easy way to keep in touch with friends
  • Easy access to current affairs
  • Enables us to educate ourselves

The list goes on. There are endless reasons why we love social media; the extent to which can be seen in cities like Augsburg, Germany where pedestrian crossings signs have been put on the ground; because we spend most of our time with our heads down, engrossed in our phones. 

Cons:

  • Depression
  • Cyberbullying
  • FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Negative body image
  • Unrealistic perceptions of other people’s lives

Social media also has its pros and cons on the subject of body image. It can be a source of ‘fitspiration’ to people striving to lead healthier lives. Aroosha Nekonam battled with anorexia for years and claimed social media helped her in the midst of her eating disorder. https://www.healthline.com/health/social-media-choices#inspiration-vs.-expectation 

female bodybuilders’ Instagram and Youtube accounts provided something to aspire to

This is, on the other hand, is one of social media’s biggest downfalls; and dangers! Constantly flicking through Instagram, seeing models with perfect physiques on regular holidays; wearing expensive clothes, and driving expensive cars. This can have a profound impact on someone’s mental health; especially when they start comparing their lives to what they see on Instagram.


The question I pose is: are the various body positivity campaigns such as the 2012 #FatKini, or #LoseHateNotWeight encouraging us to be more physically unhealthy? In a time where positive mental health is so important, could we be losing sight of how necessary good physical health is to compensate?

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For years, the ideology that you have to be a size 4 to be regarded beautiful was all that we knew. In an age of mental health being so prevalent, businesses and individuals with a platform have tried to combat this mentality, which in my opinion is a huge positive and step forward. It is completely unrealistic to assume that all women should be a certain size as we come naturally in different shapes and sizes.


Dr. Stephanie Buttermore, a Ph.D. academic turned fitness model from Canada, is going “all in” in an attempt to prove that people’s bodies have a natural ‘set point’. Buttermore describes going ‘all in’ as eating until your hunger is completely satiable. Stephanie expects that by the end of the process her body will return to a size where it is genetically supposed to be.

Stephanie Buttermore

She delves into the process on her YouTube channel, self-titled, Stephanie Buttermore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DotlyWhBhak


Returning the focus to social media body positivity campaigns: I fully understand the main point of these; to be happy in your skin. As we are trying to push away from the thinking that you have to be ‘skinny’ to be viewed attractive. For example, Dove’sReal Beauty’ campaign, showing a diverse range of models; one that I thought displayed the message of body positivity in a healthy way.

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Another company that I feel tried to jump on the bandwagon with this, and in my opinion, failed was Gillette. Gillette’s April 2019 Twitter advert featured a plus-size model, Anna O’Brien.

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This campaign faced major backlash stating that the model shown is not healthy, and listing health problems that arise from being obese.

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Companies like Dove are positively combating the mentality that being dramatically underweight is not healthy, however, they are not using models at the other end of the spectrum to show this – surely this would be contradicting anyway?


We cannot deny the implications that come with being overweight: In England, obesity rates have increased from 16.4% in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015 in women (with similar statistics in men) costing the NHS £6.1 billion between 2014-2015 alone. Obesity is a trend that is on the rise and these figures are only going to vastly increase.

Now let’s look at the actual health risks associated with obesity:

  • 3 times more likely to develop colon cancer
  • 2.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure (higher risk of heart disease)
  • 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes

Obviously, obesity blame is not solely on campaigns like Gillette but isn’t helped by businesses on social media trying to normalise it to appear more inclusive with the sole purpose of generating more sales; disregarding the physical health risks that are brought with it.

I appreciate that businesses using these campaigns have an aim to make women feel more confident in their skin; although I think that we need to be more conscious of how this can be perceived. Many people may look at these campaigns and think that being physically healthy is not a priority so long as you’re happy, which to an extent may be true. Looking at social media for a perfect figure is unhealthy as often these figures are naturally unattainable. Pictures have been airbrushed and models have had surgery but it can be a great source of information and motivation to get on the right track.

My point is that we cannot neglect our physical health in the hope that we will feel more mentally healthy, instead, we need to work on getting to a place where our bodies and minds are both happy and with a healthy diet and regular exercise this can be achieved.

 

Orlaigh Doherty 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/orlaigh-doherty-7351a7139/ 

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

The Digital Election

In the 2008 Presidential Election, we witnessed relatively unknown candidate Barack Obama become front and center of the race. Through an engaging social media campaign and a well oiled public relations team Obama would go on to become the 49th President. Fast forward to 2016 and Donald Trump has become the first “twitter – based” presidency. Trumps use of Twitter has become a significant breakthrough for social media in politics. It allowed Trump to utilise and connect personally with his supporters, slam his opponents and outline his policies all in the one space. Jump to 2017, Corbyn’s unexpected rise in popularity in the UK General Election seemed to be because of a surge in Labour’s youth vote which has been attributed to their social media strategies. Two years later, we are in what could be the most important General Election the United Kingdom has seen and it’s already begun to be dominated by social media.

Below, I have listed some ways in which political parties and their leaders have started to use social media to advance their campaigns.

BLURRING THE TRUTH

We are all very aware of the impact ‘fake news’ can have on elections, no thanks to Donald Trump. However, a more sophisticated form has now emerged where videos of interviews have been edited to make those in question appear in a negative light. The first week of campaigning has been dominated by the Conservative party posting a video of a “Good Morning Britain” Interview with Labour party member Keir Starmer. In the video tweeted on the Conservative parties account, it appears to show the Labour member unable to answer a question on their parties policy towards Brexit. Although when played alongside the full interview, it shows the video has clearly been edited, as Starmer answered the question immediately.

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This clip tweeted by the Conservative party became one of the most watched videos by a political party or party leader since the vote to hold a general election. Despite the high number of viewers, it’s hard to gauge whether or not these viewers approved or disapproved of the tweet. For those who look into it, it can easily sway public opinion against the Conservatives or vice versa. The public may only look at the original tweet and may believe Labour’s members still don’t know their stance on Brexit.

THE TWITTER SCREENSHOT STRATEGY

If you have the usual social media sites, you will definitely have noticed screenshots of tweets by party leaders and political parties making their way on to Instagram and Facebook. The reason being, Twitter has fewer users than other sites but can easily kick-start the conversation on Facebook & Instagram when these are shared. Jeremy Corbyn has now started using the screenshot to reach a wider audience, his main social media platform is Twitter, and evidence suggests that those who talk politics on twitter tend to support Labour. Hence why Corbyn has now began posting screenshots of his tweets on to Facebook.

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Conservatives have also been posting screenshots of tweets and not just their own tweets, but other party members in order to criticise them. They posted a screenshot of a Corbyn tweet regarding Brexit policy labeling it as “dither & delay”. Instagram, which is generally known for its pleasing aesthetic is also seeing a large amount of screenshotted tweet posts. Both Corbyn and Johnson have been posting simple screenshots on their profiles, as it stands however Corbyn has been receiving much more interactions with his posts.

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Both Corbyn and Johnson have started to use Snapchat for campaigning posts hinting at their attempts to engage with an even younger audience. The posts mainly combine video with graphics and text, however, don’t seem overly informative.

RELATABILITY & PERSONALITY

Now more than ever, the importance of personality and being relatable to the younger generation is crucial for politicians. What Johnson seems to lack in relatability, Corbyn has definitely taking advantage with this through the use of his videos on his personal Instagram account.

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The six second video clip above garnered over 175,000 views and has been by far the most successful on a politicians personal account. All of the parties seem to have raised their game on Instagram since this and there has been an increase in most political parties followers. There are over 20 million Instagram accounts in the UK with the majority of those users under 45. This is a key demographic that Labour really want to reach and its clear that they are going the right way about it.

A lot has changed since 2017 when Labour outsmarted the other political parties with their digital campaign. They can no longer be certain of dominance across all digital platforms. However, Labour’s strategy of attacking the rich through Twitter & Facebook have been well – received and they continue to garner the most interactions. For how long it will stay that way, we don’t know. I suspect a few more twists in this digital election.

Eoghan Gilmore is a final year Bsc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – eoghangilmore , LinkedIn – https://ie.linkedin.com/in/eoghan-gilmore-106a89164

Odd One Out

As with any university student, the thought of picking a dissertation topic that you will put blood, sweat and most definitely tears in is a daunting prospect. I know I wanted to pick a topic that firstly I found interesting and secondly one that is a current issue in today’s society. With much thought, I decided to research the effects that social media has on our self- esteem and body image.

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One of my main inspirations for researching this topic was through watching a BBC Three documentary, called ‘Jesy Nelson; ‘Odd One Out.’’ We all remember Jesy as being on the X Factor in 2011, one of the four members of the girl group Little Mix. As a 12-year-old girl, I was in awe of Little Mix, an all-girl group filled with ‘ordinary’ happy go lucky girls, who had just won one of the biggest TV shows in the UK. Being thrown into fame and fortune and not being able to walk down the street without everyone knowing you, is probably a dream for many. However, for Jesy Nelson she quickly wished she had never entered and desperately longed for the life she once had.

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Watching the documentary was genuinely heartbreaking; seeing someone in the spot light who seems to have everything you could possibly want in life so depressed and dispirited. It is completely beyond my comprehension as to why anyone can fulfil pleasure through being an online troll and bringing others down for their own satisfaction. These trolls hide behind keyboards and don’t take a second to think about the impact their words have on the individual. The tweets circling about Jesy were truly repulsive: ‘The fat ugly one.’….. ‘Go kill yourself.’…… ‘Wide load coming through.’…. ‘4 members 5 chins.’ …. ‘Saggy, baggy, rough and don’t get me started on her face.’

 Controversial Katie Hopkins added further unnecessary fuel to the fire tweeting: ‘Packet mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix more pick n mix.’ Jesy gave an authentic, distressing account to the consequence of the sheer level of hatred she was receiving, as she began starving herself which led to her attempting to take her own life in 2013. We are all guilty of putting celebrities on this unrealistic pedestal, I know I do!  Celebrities tend to have a god like status with a human face, however this documentary highlighted just how ‘human’ celebrities are, with the same emotions any sane person would have in this situation.

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Jesy Nelson’s documentary aired on 12thSeptember 2019, breaking the BBC Three record with 3.3 million views, 64% of which were 16-34 year olds. The film tackles mental health issues and appears to have made a real difference to those going through similar experiences. One fan tweeted: ‘The #OddOneOut Jesy Nelson documentary is one of the saddest and scary things I have ever watched. This needs to be shown everywhere to teach people the devastating effects their words and comments have. Be kind. Always.’  Another fan tweeted: ‘My favourite from day one. The girl I saw so much of myself in. Please know that not everything you see on social media is what it seems. We are all human beings.’ The amount of support Jesy has received following the release of the film has been staggering.

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I really do recommend everyone to watch this documentary, I have a lot of admiration for Jesy Nelson, in being so brave and for sharing such a deeply personal and inspiring message.  The influence that mass media has on self-esteem and body image, can be devastating. This particular case showed just how impactful vile comments can be, leading to body dissatisfaction and other health concerns including; eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. We all come in different shapes and sizes and shouldn’t let the opinions of others bring us down. I know that this film has empowered women from all over Britain and here in Ireland to embrace the body they’ve been given and not to let petty comments from petty people affect you.

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If I haven’t bored you and you’ve got this far please if you can take one thing from this blog post; be nice to people, no matter WHO they are, everyone’s fighting a battle others know nothing about. Now on that note off I go to start this dissertation.

 

Hannah Colgan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890

 

Caitlyn Jenner, “The Jungle” & The Transgender Community

It is safe to say that the Kardashian/Jenner family are among the most famous people in the world and pretty much everyone from the age of 12-35 knows who they are. So, it’s come as quite a shock to the UK public that one of Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s parents is taking on the Australian Jungle in ITV show – “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”.

Caitlyn Jenner (birth given name Bruce) is a transgender woman, Olympic gold medallist and American reality TV star. Caitlyn came out to the world as a transgender woman in April 2015 in an interview with American TV journalist Diane Sawyer. A cover shoot with fashion and popular culture publication ‘Vanity Fair’ followed in June (this can be seen below). Caitlyn’s tweet revealing the cover shoot was announced as the 10th most retweeted tweet of 2015.She has a reported net worth of $100 million (£74 million) and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest person to gain 1 million followers on Twitter.

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Known for its brutal bushtucker trials that have celebrities eating animal genitalia amongst other gruesomeness; “I’m a Celebrity” is not an environment one would imagine a member of the Kardashian empire immersing themselves into.

So it poses the question why? Why is someone with Jenner’s wealth and fame taking on not only everything the ITV producers will throw at her in terms of bushtucker trials; but also, the notoriously critical UK public? It’s a question many people have tried to answer since the announcement that she was heading for “the jungle” but at this stage it’s all just speculation.

My guess is that she wants to reinvent herself after a lot of bad press over the last few years. You may argue that she’s not from the UK so she should try this so-called reinvention in the US, but the last series launch episode of “I’m a Celebrity” garnered over 14 million viewers. Only 4 more US series garnered more viewers last year – NFL Sunday Night Football, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Game of Thrones. With those viewing figures and the added benefit of social media publicity, the life of Caitlyn Jenner in “the jungle” is surely about to become a viral sensation around the globe.

After it was announced that Jenner was going to be a part of “I’m a Celebrity” this year, I like the true millennial I am delved headfirst into the chaotic social media uproar that occurred. The content that I saw on this social media sleuthing was horrific. The amount of transphobic and downright shameful language that people all over the internet were using in relation to Caitlyn Jenner, was truly shocking. I didn’t expect in 2019 for there to be so much hate directed towards a transgender person. Below are two examples of transphobic rhetoric being used on Twitter.

 

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One of the most surprising things to me was that all this hate was not coming from the typical people you would expect. The usual Twitter trolls and Instagram haters that we have come to expect this type of behaviour off were of course contributing to the chaos, but they were not the only source. I saw countless social media accounts with pride flags and empowering ‘bio’ messages slander Caitlyn Jenner and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ posts making fun of her gender reassignment surgery and her life as Bruce. It was truly disheartening.

I completely understand the backlash that Caitlyn Jenner has received over the past few years, through publicly supporting Donald Trump and Ted Cruz she has rightfully disillusioned herself from the LGBTQ+ community. However, that is a judgement of her character and it should not encourage people to attack her as a trans person. If someone has a negative opinion of Caitlyn Jenner it should be about her as a person, not her transgender identity. A twitter user touches on this point, as seen below.

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The sad fact about this is that with Caitlyn Jenner entering “the jungle” she is opening herself up to the ridicule, slander and transphobia that will no doubt become a main stay on social media in the next three weeks. However it’s not only her that is affected, whilst she will be oblivious to the happenings of the outside world – the transgender members of the public will have to deal with it.

I have seen a lot of tweets detailing peoples’ concern about Caitlyn Jenner being a representative of sorts for the transgender community within the UK – one can be seen below. Bringing Caitlyn Jenner onto over 14 million screens around the UK will start conversations within households that a lot of young transgender people may not be ready to face. With the amount of transphobia present on social media right now when “I’m a Celebrity” hasn’t even started yet, it is a frightening prospect to think about what transgender people of all ages will have to see online as the show progresses.

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One Twitter user shares their interest in finding out how transphobic the UK public really are now that Caitlyn Jenner will be center stage for everyone to ridicule. Don’t get me wrong I personally don’t agree with many of Caitlyn Jenners’ choice in the past and I do not think she is a good representative for the transgender community, but as I stated earlier if you really feel the need to attack her, do just that don’t attack her identity.GD26

So over the next three weeks that “I’m a Celebrity” is viewable over every possible screen in the country – I want to encourage people not to enable transphobia. By liking a tweet or facebook post, you are supporting hatred that can cause detrimental effects to a whole community of people. By laughing at someone misgendering Caitlyn Jenner or making fun of her appearance remember that there is a whole community of people out there that this affects – Stonewall.org reports the damning fact that 89 percent of young trans people have contemplated suicide. Remember that somewhere in the UK a young transgender person is reading tweets and hearing comments in school that invalidates who they are; just remember that one word directed at one person can affect millions across the world.

 

Gareth Donnelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/gareth-donnelly-1a6161196 , Twitter – @GarethDonnelly4 and Instagram – @garethd__

 

 

Who’s winning Burger Wars – From Genius Marketing to PR Fails

So today I continue my account of ‘Burger Wars’, what is Burger Wars you might ask? Burger Wars is the competition between McDonalds and Burger King. Two giants of the burger world, battling it out for the top spot. How do they do this? Well through their PR and Marketing Campaigns of course. Often making subtle references to their competitor or not so subtle in Burger King’s case.

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I wrote a post on my personal blog around a month ago, called ‘A Day Without a Whopper’ which you can find here. This detailed Burger King’s decision to stop selling their famous ‘Whopper’ burger for the day in aid of their competitor McDonald’s charity campaign. They told all their customers to go to McDonalds and instead buy a Big Mac as profits would go to charity. This came a few years after Burger King had tried to collaborate with McDonalds on the McWhopper, again for charity, but had been rejected by their competitor. Burger King just being charitable? I don’t think so, these were very clever and well thought through marketing campaigns designed to make Burger King look like the bigger person in this clash of titans.

So what’s happened since?

Well I have personally been seeing a lot on Twitter and LinkedIn about various PR and Marketing Campaigns from the giants – both good and bad. So I thought it was only fair that I summarise my findings in a blog post on the latest in this saga.

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  1. McDonalds – It’s Not the Same Without the ‘M’

This campaign in particular I have seen widely shared across LinkedIn over the past week and it’s one that stuck with me proving how successful it was. McDonalds decided to stamp their branding in some of the busiest places in the world – Airports. Removing their signature letter ‘M’ for the titles of many well-known countries and simply using the slogan ‘It’s Not the Same Without the M’. One thing I loved about this campaign was this simplicity, it’s eye catching and straight to the point, you automatically known what brand it’s for and it makes you think of McDonalds. I know after a long flight, often the first thing I want is a quick and easy meal, so I think the positioning here is great.

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  1. Burger King – The Meltdown

Burger King decided to get on board with sustainability and vowed to stop producing plastic toys in its kid’s meals, as part of an aim to save 320 tonnes of single use plastic. The fast food restaurant now also offers a service where you can bring in your old plastic toys to be melted down and the opening week of this promotion you would receive a free kid’s meal in return for doing so. In typical Burger King style, they didn’t miss the opportunity to take a jibe at McDonald’s by stating their toys where ‘especially’ welcome in their promotional video. For me this is a huge win for Burger King, climate change and sustainability are such a talked about issue at the moment and this is the type of reaction we need from big brands and corporations.

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PR Fails

  1. McDonalds – ‘Bloody Sundae’

I’m sure most people have heard about this by now as it’s been highly reported on and sensitive issue, especially in Northern Ireland. But McDonald’s were the subject of a huge PR Fail, over a Halloween promotion of their Ice Cream in their Portugal stores featuring the slogan ‘Sundae Bloody Sundae’. McDonald’s has since issued a public apology stating that the campaign was not intended to reference historical events and that they sincerely apologise for any offence caused. However, this has not stopped residents of Northern Ireland and further afield being highly and rightly upset by the campaign.

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  1. Burger King – Milkshake Tweet

Burger King came under fire with the ASA recently about a tongue and cheek tweet stating ‘Dear people of Scotland, We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun.” The tweet came as a response to McDonald’s stopping selling milkshakes at the request of the police, due to politicians such as Nigel Farage being ‘milkshaked’ (having a milkshake thrown over them in the street). The ASA stated that they considered that the ad encourages ‘anti-social behaviour’ and banned the tweet.

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So who’s winning here?

In my eyes Burger King have the lead here, I love how reactive their PR and Marketing is and their constant focus on current issues. I think their constant ‘trolling’ and responding to McDonald’s is pretty humorous and clever and gives them the upper hand here.

 

Hannah Chambers is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can find her on – Twitter: @HannahC_PR  and LinkedIn: Hannah Chambers