Best to worst communities on social media

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Where to post, comment, and get the response you want

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. October 16, 2015

Online communities bring people together, and they also tear them apart. So, often we delete accounts, block “friends,” and end up arguing with a troll over something that doesn’t even matter. Social media has become the Wild West, a lawless avenue for people to act horribly, and then defend themselves with crude language and bad grammar. In this article, I’ll look at my experience with the most popular social networks and examine how we behave when things are at their best and worst.

Reddit: There is an organized chaos to Reddit that is beautiful. People who are active on the network govern each other quite effectively. While identity does not ever need to be revealed, the “karma” system gives everyone power. It’s democracy at its finest. Every person has the right to vote up or down a post, link, or comment. This means bullshit sinks to the bottom and only the best is left on top. It’s a great place to get an honest opinion—brutally honest—without much hostility.

LinkedIn: Things never really get bad on LinkedIn, but it never really gets that great either. Now and then someone will write a very thoughtful recommendation for you or endorse one of your skills, but it’s never the place to get into any serious debate. It’s a professional community, and it demands respect. It does that effectively by making every commenter, poster, and even viewer accountable for his or her actions. You can’t creep your ex-girlfriend’s LinkedIn page without her knowing. Overall, you are always safe on LinkedIn, as safe as you would be at a networking event.

Facebook: If LinkedIn is a networking event, Facebook is a full-blown party. I don’t need to go into detail about what Facebook is, but literally anything can happen when such a wide variety of emotions collide. Some people are trying to impress everyone. Some are trying to get sympathy. Some are trying to get others to do something or “like” something. Yep, it’s a party all right. You’ll be okay on Facebook if you are genuine. Beware, though. Since Facebook encompass people within your circle, their honesty might hurt you in real life. A bit of censorship is advised.

Twitter: Twitter allows you to target the rich and famous, as well as your own lowly followers, and reach out to all of them. Twitter is effective, but it has to be earned. You have to climb the Twitter ladder. Once you have power (i.e., a top-notch Klout score), you need to wield it responsibly. Failure to do so, or tweeting 140 characters that don’t fit others’ points-of-view will be met with a barrage of responses. The good stuff is highlighted, but the bad stuff will not be ignored on Twitter.

YouTube: I don’t know what it is about videos that causes people to be such unsophisticated, racist, sexist, and offensive assholes. But they do. If you post a video on YouTube, it might just end up being forgotten deep in the rabbit hole of user-generated content, or it’ll go viral and you’ll have to answer for it. Haters are going to hate, and, believe me, like how a stagnant pond in July breeds mosquitoes, YouTube breeds classless idiots with little good to say.

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Hate Technology

How social media creates a vortex of outrage with no solution

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press, Sept 4, 2015

Cecil the lion, the drowned Syrian boy, and even Kony 2012: it seems as though social media today is a place where we air our grievances. Yet, after we’ve blown enough hot air at a topic, we move on to the next one. Social media is a great place to gain an audience, but it seems as though awareness is as effective as a like button.

There is so much misguided information floating around the Internet today that we aren’t solving critical problems intelligently; we prefer a mob mentality. After the death of Cecil the lion, the online world became outraged by the act of trophy hunting—and in a way, all hunting in general. With obvious nearsighted Western thinking, many couldn’t see the positive side to controlled hunting, hunting as a way to sustain national parks and control the population of potentially dangerous or pesky animals. Instead of educating themselves, we publicly demanded the head of a Minnesota dentist. It’s this type of thinking that makes many appear hypocritical.

Social media as a vessel to bring awareness to the masses has created an audience of self-righteous pundits that happily add to the noise, but do little to end it.

Pointing the lens at an overlooked crisis, social media decided to over-share the image of a drowned Syrian boy washed on a Turkish shore. It’s obviously a terrible sight, especially slotted in between newsfeed favourites: vacation pictures, selfies, and images of food. Many weren’t only outraged by the migrant crisis in Europe, but also by the fact that social media is now the platform people use to upset, guilt, and shame.

Yes, we are all nodding our head saying that what has happened is awful, but there is so much horror in the world, why share it with our morning cup of coffee? Why create activists out of people who are clearly only capable of being idle? Why shove it down our throats?

I’m not a proponent of censorship, but I am a strong supporter of context. So many people who’ve seen the dead Syrian boy are oblivious to the current crisis. They see a dead toddler and they react without thinking. Blinded by rage, all they are able to do is condemn whatever wrongdoing is taking place in the world. This is our crisis. This is a problem. The world of social media has become so easily manipulated that we are now zombies to whatever power of persuasion the networks want to use against us. People are reading misinformation sourced by other misinformation, and that leads to a vicious cycle of misguided points-of-view. We don’t know what we’re talking about, and, when we do, we have no way of acting, no solution, just stealth-shaming others.

There needs to be a change in the way we consume and discuss content and crisis online. Is a comment thread the best way to have an intelligent discourse? I don’t think so; I think it’s more of a toilet bowl we are all vomiting into.

Want to Start A Scalable Business? Here Are Some Ideas

 

You want to start a scalable business because you have huge aspirations. Unlike running the mom ‘n’ pop shops in your neighbourhood, you want more than a few loyal customers. You want to grow your company, reach new investors, and expand across the city, the country, and even the world.

A scalable business is a company capable of multiplying revenue without compromising the resulting profits. You’ll charge the same price per customer if you have 100 or if you have 100,000, and more clients doesn’t equal larger workload. That is a scalable business.

When your company is ready to scale, it’ll have a desirable product and an established business model. Not only will your friends and family think your ideas are great, but investors will come knocking as well.

So where do you begin? What exactly does this type of business look like? To get you started on your road to glory, here are a few examples of businesses proven to have scalable potential.

Software Companies

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Why are some of the biggest companies in the world based around software? Well, it’s because quality software can be replicated over and over again without excessive expenditure. A software startup with limited capital can build a minimum viable product (MVP) with budding potential and present it to the market and investors. Then over night, they can gain a huge following, or disappear with miniscule damages.

Whether your new company is based around a SaaS model or utilizes the cloud, building around a low-cost deliverable will help your scalability.

Take a quick look at the world’s largest software companies, Microsoft and Oracle. These two brands are churning out products that consumers don’t even know they are purchasing. Once the developed product is ready for the market, consumers can access it with a few clicks. No need to stock it on a shelf and no need to drive to a store and buy it.

When products need physical applications, such as the case of CD-ROMS, smart companies will outsource the operation without compromising the team’s time, efforts, and intellect. Scaling does not all happen internally. Sometimes your company will need help.

E-commerce

Online shopping is a worldwide phenomenon and it’s only growing. Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses, e-commerce has exceptional scalable capacity. While some shoppers are searching for a desired product, many are just browsing (window-shopping) hoping that something will catch their eyes. Here is where your company appears.

It’s true that products available online are also available in stores. So with that in mind, how can you possibly set your brand apart in this cramped market place?

The answer is trust. What do people hate about department stores? The cavernous warehouse sensation, the time-consuming journey through the wrong aisle, and the often-indignant customer service. A scalable e-commerce business must offer a solid product and a customer oriented business model to match.

Take the fashion startup Indochino for example. The formalwear company focuses solely on giving the modern men—who are often reluctant to get garment measured and tailored—an experience that is worthwhile and enjoyable.

In addition, successful e-commerce startups offer incentives that retail stores often omit. Coupons, discounts, and various other marketing strategies to gain loyalty are ways to turn your savings into new customers.

Social Network and Gamification

Perhaps it is too late to invent Facebook or Twitter, but your scalable startup can still connect people together in different ways.

Two prime examples of scalable businesses that leverage social media for success areFourSquare, a mobile app that learns what you like and suggest places for you to go, and OpenTable, a service that allows you to make dinner reservations quick and easy. Both of these applications fulfill that public demand to explore and evaluate, while providing a gamified element that encourages users to return.

Monotonous and stress-inducing problems seep into our lives constantly. If you can build a company that makes even one of those problems enjoyable (or even bearable), such as finding someone to help you clean your house, like TaskRabbit does, then you are on your way to creating something scalable.

Read more about business and payment on Control

Like the real thing

Image via Thinkstock

Your social media profile is not a measuring stick for success

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 23, 2015

I can be certain that when I write a Facebook post, someone will read it. There are few other places where you can push a message publicly and have it received by those who you intended it for. If I want a close group of friends to read my inside joke I can link them to it. If I want to omit my colleagues from my radical political point of views—should I have any—I can simply adjust the privacy settings. We are all media producing outlets, however, today we aren’t using social media to present anything of value, we are merely shouting into the void, uttering mundane nothings, and expecting praise, affirmation, or approval in return.

We are living in an age where we are “liking,” “retweeting,” and “sharing” too casually. The reason is because the gamified aspect of social media is so addicting. We feel compelled to let people know about our meals, our feelings, our day at work, our vacation spot, our new relationships, our athletic achievements, and many other not-so-pivotal details of our lives. We present the part of ourselves we want people to see. We are our own public relations manager, but the thing is it always comes across as contrived, arrogant, or needy.

Everything we post today is measured as if “likes” have any merit to our real experiences. They don’t. So what? Liking is fun. It’s good for the human spirit. Sure it nurtures a narcissistic aspect of our being, but what harm does that do? Why can’t we like whatever we feel like liking? Why can’t we follow whomever we feel like following?

The thing with Facebook and other social media algorithms is that your feed impacts your friends. You are representing all the boring bullshit you are liking and sharing. Marketers see your behaviour and in return present more branded material on your news feed, more Buzzfeed surveys, and more peer-to-peer propaganda. By liking, commenting, and sharing content you are not invested in, you are inadvertently spamming your fellow followers, friends, and fans. If you don’t value the content and you don’t believe your social media community will appreciate it, don’t like it.

You are not obligated to like your best friends’ posts about their lunches or the way the Starbucks employee messed up in spelling their names. You are not obligated to like a news article your mother shared. Social media does a fine job recycling content. And with the new trending column on the side of Facebook, you really don’t need to share any pertinent stories at all; nobody is relying on you for the breaking news.

On social media, we often get our priorities mixed up. We get derailed from the informative and valued path into a trivial and anecdotal direction. Take the black and blue optical illusion dress we all saw earlier this year on social media. We couldn’t stop talking about it, because people wouldn’t stop talking about it. That’s the thing; it’s a vicious cycle. If you want a topic to die, you need to stop contributing to it. That’s why we should like, comment, and share sparingly.

Facebook Not Forever: The Social Media Giant is Over the Hill

Formerly published in Techvibes. 

I was late to start: I opened my Facebook account around 2007, when all my other high school friends were advocating it and praising about the innovative capability to make events, share pictures, and occasionally poke each other.

I remember feeling hesitant when signing up for the account—I knew I was opening a Pandora’s box. I would never be the same.

Over six years later I have shared a lot of good times on Facebook. But my attitude towards it has changed multiple times over the course of my active account. I began by simply using it as a social hangout. Then I used it as a professional networking platform to seek work and experiences. Today, it’s just a place for me to keep tidbits of my life and to check in with old friends that I don’t get to see in person.

So when news about the gradual decline of youth engagement in Facebook surfaced, I was far from surprised.

What does the word “decline” even mean in the Facebook world? After all, the social media platform has approximately 1.2 billion active users. It seems everybody we know have Facebook—and that is part of the problem. The younger generation will never feel the liberty of social networking if Mom and Dad are creeping about, commenting on pictures and liking posts.

It’s true; we, the mass, are in fact making Facebook lame. This proves that the life expectancy of social media only has the longevity of the generation that pioneered it.

Success is the best poison any company can hope for and Facebook is coping with the repercussions now. Competitors that were once dominated have changed their strategy from facing the giant head on to luring the aging youth away like the Pied Piper. In a survey measuring the most important social media platform for teens done by Piper Jaffray & Co., 26% said Twitter is the most important as of Fall 2013 and 23% said Instagram is most important, matching Facebook (also 23%), which dropped from 42% a year ago.

Twitter and Instagram can obviously celebrate their accomplishment, but they aren’t Facebook’s only competition today. Messaging apps, although are smaller, are as intimidating as any other competitors on the communication market. This case was proven when Facebook offered a generous $3-billion to buy the ephemeral picture and text messaging app Snapchat.

The startup founded in 2011 by a couple of Standford students turned down the offer. Many thought they were insane—but I don’t.

I believe mobile is the future and that is where Facebook will lose the youth. Sure, they have their own messaging app, but with so many different ways to chat, not even SMS is safe, let alone Facebook’s mediocre application. The rise of Whatsapp, the resurgence of BBM, and the novelty of Snapchat will all act as alternatives for a text-heavy world that can often get very boring, especially for generations with shorter attention spans.

In 2007, I imagined my relationship with Facebook in the future. I saw myself as this distracted creature with a habitual tendency to check up on my network of friends for no reason. I am now that being—and if the younger generation saw me, they would think I’m so not cool.

But while the coolness and popularity of Facebook has declined significantly since the early 2000s, that doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere. Like phone numbers, emails and postal codes, Facebook accounts will just be another thing modern people use in their daily lives without acknowledgement.

It might not be hip or trendy, but it’s still necessary. And some might say that is the best accomplishment. And for the moment the Zuckerberg camp can breathe a sigh of relief: they’re not Myspace. Yet.