As a student of psychology and the brain, I’m intrigued by the effects that social media has on people’s perceptions of their self-worth. All of the social networks out there measure, at least to some extent, the level of popularity, reach, or ‘effect’ that each of our interactions has with our online community. Twitter has its “this person Retweeted your Tweet to X amount of people!”. Facebook has likes, comments, and shares. Instagram and LinkedIn both also have likes and comments. Even Reddit, the holiest of social networks, has karma points for each user. But why? What for? Is a social network that fails to do this not a ‘social’ network? Would such a social network fail? How important are ‘likes’ and whatnot to our actual self-esteem? Do we value these electronic forms of pseudo-kudos and online popularity the same way we value real-life interactions? So many questions…
I’m not alone in asking these questions. The University of Salford in the UK did a study last year on social media’s effects on self-esteem and anxiety, and reported that 50% of their 298 participants said that their “use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter makes their lives worse”. If you’re like me and you’re all like OMFGWTF, then consider this: the study also reported that participants also said that their self-esteem suffers when they compare their own accomplishments to those of their online friends. (Suddenly, this starts making more sense.) In addition to this, a quarter of participants cited work or relationship difficulties because of “online confrontations”, and more than half reported that they feel “worried or uncomfortable” when they can’t access Facebook or email. In sum, this study concluded that social media causes low self-esteem and anxiety.
Another study, this time by the University of Pittsburgh and the Columbia Business School, found that users who are “focused on close friends” –I’m not exactly sure what that means because I’d consider only about .05% of my friends on Facebook as ‘close’– “tend to experience an increase in self-esteem when browsing social networks and afterwards display less self-control”. While this study goes on to correlate higher social network use with higher body-mass indexes and higher levels of credit-card debt (anybody else find that inaccurate and somewhat hilarious?), I think it’s main argument hits the spot: positive comments on social media can and do boost self-esteem and thus, influence user behavior.
But let’s go back to my original questions. Given the information above, as well as this Daily Beast article about how overnight Internet fame caused Jason Russell (the man behind the Kony 2012 video) to be diagnosed with ‘temporary insanity,’ I think it’s safe to say that yes, ‘likes’ and other positive social network interactions are pretty important to our sense of self-worth. If they’re important enough to drive you insane (and don’t forget, make you fat, anxious, and in-debt!), it seems like we might value these electronic social interactions as even more valuable than real-life interactions. And while I think it’s important to make distinctions between social interactions with people you know (i.e., Facebook and other ‘closed’ networks) and with people you don’t necessarily know (i.e., Twitter and other ‘public’ networks), I think this is mostly true.
I guess the truth is we all want to be heard, or at least, we like love to be heard. I’ve heard friends of mine say that Twitter is stupid because it’s just a way for people to validate their self-worth. Now, I can safely say that it may be, but then again so are all forms of ‘social’ media, and many other forms of social interactions, for that matter. I don’t think social media is what drives us to forever seek external validations of self-worth, but that it merely facilitates it. Given the power, it’s up to the individual to determine how to use it: On one hand, you have the annoying, snobby girl from high school posting selfies, being all like “OMG yoga in the morning then froyo and shopping at LV with my bestiess!!”. On the other, your friend who just got the job she’s been stressing about for a month, celebrating.
Some questions remain unanswered, however. Would a social network without a feedback mechanism still be a social network? Imagine a scenario in which one person walks up to his/her friend in excitement over something important –let’s go with the above example that this person got the job he/she really wanted–, and the friend says nothing. The friend just stands there, idly, not expressing emotion. The friend can clearly see and hear the excitement, yet stares blankly at this person who is screaming in his/her face. Now, imagine that the friend really wants to say something, but is physically unable to. The intent is there, but lacks a medium for expression. This is what comes to my mind when I think of a social network with no feedback mechanism. Sure, you could pick up the phone and call your friend to congratulate them, but if your friendship isn’t close enough for that, then you have no means of expressing your content, however light or intense it may be. But, if you and this ‘friend’ are close enough to call, then there really is no need for a so-called “social” network to mediate your communication to begin with. In other words, such a network wouldn’t have much “social” value; it would be just a bunch of people pointlessly talking about themselves. Such a network would be a one-way street of communication, and that’s not really “socializing”.
Would such a network fail? I have no idea. On one side, why would anyone share information with others if there’s no way for you to know what anyone thinks? And on the other side, this network would be free of all of those “look at me being a spoiled brat” posts, because come on, the only reason people do that is to fish for likes. Regardless, the value of social media is so because it facilitates two-way communication between you and a larger audience than you would otherwise not have physical access to.
My opinion on the matter is that, since the urge to use social media as a way to validate self-worth exists in all of us because it works, the way a person chooses to use social media says a lot about their personality. We all have a person (or two) that comes to mind when thinking about someone who posts for the sake of getting ‘likes’, and I think you’d agree with me that it gets annoying really quickly. It’s up to us to determine the way we use social media, but most of the time we don’t bother to take a look at our online behavior from an objective point of view. So, do so, and you may learn a little (or a lot) about yourself and how much you look to social media for your self-esteem. If you find yourself to be similar to that annoying person you thought of above, then maybe you should take a few days off of social media. If not, then that’s great, but you shouldn’t brush this exercise aside as a one-time reflection. We’ve all been guilty of boasting about ourselves on social media at some points, and while there are times when it is appropriate, we should be careful that the urge to do so doesn’t dictate how we behave on social networks.
This article was originally published on The Social U. If you want to see the original version, click here. For more of Álvaro’s writing for The Social U, click here.
So I’ve recently started an inbound marketing internship at this Boston-based startup called Leaf, where I’m currently managing content for their blog and helping out with social media strategy.
I got in contact with Leaf through Lisandro Quiñones, who saw The Social U and asked me if I wanted to come in for an interview. Their headquarters are located at Intrepid Labs in Cambridge, and they’re up to some pretty awesome stuff. It’s an exciting idea with an awesome team, and I’m glad to contribute my part.
For more information about Leaf, check out the video below. If you want to see the work I’m currently doing for them, check out their blog here!
P.S. Check out Leaf on Twitter: @Leafyourlife.
Inbound marketing works for B2B companies because it allows potential customers to better determine if working with that specific company is a good fit, great fit, or no fit. Similarly, inbound marketing can help students showcase their knowledge and potential to companies who are seeking for that ‘best fit’ employee.
If you’re unfamiliar with B2B inbound marketing, it pretty much boils down to three things: First, have a place (usually website or blog) where you constantly share your industry expertise such that you become not only a trusted source, but also a thought leader within your market. Second, increase readership of your content by pushing it out via relevant social networks and participating in their respective communities. Third, make your content and your website easy to find by those who are searching for your industry and/or the services you offer. Here’s how college students can adapt these in their job search:
1. Google Search
A Google search of your name can make or break your job application. If you haven’t taken care of your online image, and inappropriate pictures of you come up as part of these search results, then you have severely increased your chances of being seen as a liability instead of an asset. If, on the other hand, your search results return impressive, professional results (see below), then you will absolutely impress your interviewer-to-be before you even meet him or her.
A blog is the perfect way to showcase yourself and everything you have to offer. By writing your own material, you exhibit everything from your creativity and writing skills to your critical thinking and analysis potential, as well as your ability to harness it all and put your thoughts into logical order. This, along with industry knowledge, can certainly make you stand out from that stack of job applications.
If you don’t have one, get one. If blogging is the best way to show what you already know, Twitter is the best place to learn new things. Twitter is for pushing out your blogging content and reading what others have to say as well. Most importantly, however, Twitter is a community where you can grow your audience and even make a name for yourself, provided that you participate actively. There is so much to learn from taking part in Twitter chats and following important players in your industry that you wouldn’t learn at school or anywhere else. Oh, and your Twitter profile comes up in a Google search of your name, too.
Many students think LinkedIn is a once-and-done social network, but that could not be farther from the truth. Like Twitter, LinkedIn is an active idea and content-sharing community. Unlike Twitter, you can follow companies and groups on LinkedIn. This includes the companies you are interested in, along with industry-focused discussion groups. Not only is LinkedIn the best social platform to network in, it’s also one of the first places many companies post jobs. It’s important to note that you can also adapt your profile’s permalink to match exactly the name you put on your resume or application so it comes up in that oh-so-important Google search.
Don’t just be another job application; use inbound marketing techniques to supplement your professional outreach and to attract recruiters to you. And what’s the best part about all of this? It’s free!
This piece was originally written for The Social U. You can find more of my articles for The Social U here.
Facebook privacy settings change constantly, and sadly, we have no choice but to accept them. However, the programmers over at Facebook have been nice enough to give us a minuscule, yet extremely important tag to each one of our posts. Have you ever stopped to see this option in your status update bar?
Then, on people’s homepages, your sharing settings come up to the right of the like/comment/share buttons, next to the time of your post (in red):
Now, let’s get down to the reasons why this is important:
The good news? You can go back and change the sharing options of your posts by clicking on the same button:
You would be surprised at how many people have no idea what this does, and perhaps even more surprised at how many don’t seem to care. If you want to see for yourself, browse through your Facebook Home page and count how many posts have the ‘public’ symbol (the little earth) versus the ‘friends’ symbols (two people) and the ‘custom settings’ symbol (the little gear).
Be mindful of both what you’re sharing and who you’re sharing it with. Loopholes like friends-of-friends and area-sharing do exist, so keeping yourself protected could save you apretty awkward conversation and maybe even your career opportunity.
This piece was originally written for The Social U. You can find more of my articles for The Social U here.
As Gerald has said before, college students should act like brands when it comes to preparing for the real world (i.e., getting hired). Job search is like any oversaturated market out there: consumers have a myriad of possible options to choose from and they get bombarded with marketing from each and every one of them. This freedom to choose may comfort some consumers and may trouble others, but one thing is for sure: this is an excellent problem to have because the consumer has a greater chance of finding a perfect fit. But if each option says they are your best choice because they ‘will cater to you’, ‘provide the best service possible’, etc. then how in the world are you supposed to choose which one is really the best fit for you? Now, before we answer this question, change those variables up a little bit so that the companies (former options) now get to play as consumers and we (graduating college students) become the options from which they get to choose.
I can imagine perfectly how they must feel – so many crafty emails trying to get your attention that it becomes scary. We’ve all been there, except that we now have to accept that we are on the opposite end of the spectrum. That is, we have to look back and remember which of those strategies actually worked and how we were convinced to make the choice we did. The answer to this question? Easy. What was the first thing you did last time you wanted to know more about someone or something — an ‘option’, if you will?
You Googled it didn’t you? I knew it.
That is where inbound marketing comes in. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s easy to grasp by understanding what it is not: traditional marketing. Traditional marketing is where companies push their message out through media advertisements, trade shows, email blasts, telemarketing, etc. This is why it’s also referred to as ‘outbound’ marketing. Inbound, on the other hand, is where you get customers to come to you by making it easy for people interested in your industry to both find you and learn about your expertise and everything you have to offer. These days, the best way to do that is on the Internet. That means having a blog, public social profiles, and being ‘searchable’ on Google.
Inbound marketing provides college students with an amazing opportunity to stand out from the crowd. It’s an essential tool that all college students should exploit. Why? Because your Google search results can be as impressive as your resume, if not more. Like a company trying to get you to trust in their product, inbound marketing will supplement whatever previous outbound attempts (your job application, perhaps?) you have made. A strong online profile can and will give your interviewer a first impression of you before you even set up your actual interview. And what’s the best part? It’s 100% free! Apart from time and effort, starting a blog and setting up a public Twitter profile will not cost you anything. You’re going to spend time applying for jobs anyway, so you might as well spend a little more on something that will increase your chances of standing out.
Having said that, your responsibility as your own inbound marketer is to make sure that the content your marketing attempts lead to is exactly what you want employers to see, and nothing else. With great power comes great responsibility, right? Your efforts will be entirely in vain if inappropriate pictures (or anything of the sort) of you come up as part of your search results. So, if you’re reluctant on making a Twitter or starting a blog to showcase yourself, at least take the time to make sure you’re going to make a fool out of yourself when your future employer Google’s your name.
This piece was originally written for The Social U. You can find more of my articles for The Social U here.
It has now been three months since Instagram’s magical month of April, in which they both launched their Android App and were bought by Facebook. Now, Instagram has more than 80 Million registered users and counting. Chances are, if you don’t use it yourself, you’ve at least heard about it or seen Instagram pictures on your Facebook feed.
Do you use Instagram? I do. Did you read their Terms of Service? Probably not.
Instagram, like many other image-sharing platforms, needs you to grant them the right to display your images, or else they would be violating your copyright by displaying your pictures in the app. Obvious? Maybe, but there’s more to it. Allow me to elaborate…
1. You grant them special permission
Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, “Content”) that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels…
Do you still own your pictures? Well, yes, kind of. It’s like you bought a brand new car with your hard-earned money, and it’s 100% yours, except that this friend of yours can come and take it for a spin any time he wants. I might as well add that he can use it however he wants. At the moment, they only use user pictures in seemingly harmless instances like blog posts and whatnot, so it may be true that the chances of Instagram exploiting user content for profit aren’t that high. That clause, however, is still there. Not to mention that if you’re on Instagram, you already agreed to it.
2. Not unless your account is set to ‘Private’
…except Content not shared publicly (“private”) will not be distributed outside the Instagram Services.
Phew. Those of you that are on your privacy game are set. The above point does not apply if your account (and subsequently, your photos) are set to ‘Private’. But wait! Before you go and change your privacy settings, keep reading, there’s more.
3. So many opportunities… for you to get sued
You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the Content posted by you on or through the Instagram Services or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth in this section, (ii) the posting and use of your Content on or through the Instagram Services does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights, intellectual property rights or any other rights of any person, and (iii) the posting of your Content on the Site does not result in a breach of contract between you and a third party. You agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owing any person by reason of Content you post on or through the Instagram Services.
In other words, DO NOT TAKE ANY PICTURE FROM THE INTERNET AND POST IT IN YOUR INSTAGRAM. Unless, of course, you own the rights to that image. Some people also tend to think that this is totally OK if you give credit in your comments to the person/company that does own the rights to that image, but that’s not necessarily true. While yes, it is true that most people won’t be upset if you give them credit in your post, they can still sue you. It’s not common practice, but it is probably best you play it safe. Why? Look at the next point.
4. You wanna read the last sentence in that quote again? Ouch.
You agree to pay for all royalties, fees, and any other monies owing any person by reason of Content you post on or through the Instagram Services.
In other words, the people over at Instagram have their backs covered. They won’t waste a penny if you get in trouble. This is why you don’t want to get sued (other than, well, obvious reasons). If the entity that sues you decides to include Instagram in the lawsuit (which they probably will since it was their service you used), it is my understanding from this clause that you could end up paying for your lawyer AND Instagram’s lawyer. That is, in addition to any damages you owe for copyright infringement, should you be found guilty. Ouch? OUCH.
5. If you want to get credit for that pic, don’t upload it
Don’t take it from me, take it from Amanda of I Am Baker. She recently wrote a post on her blog about how she found accounts on Instagram who had taken photos from her website and posted them as their own. She didn’t get credit anywhere, and one of the pictures was even uploaded to an Instagram contest.
The pictures got upwards of 24,000 “hearts” on Instagram. That’s 24,000 people that could’ve been directed to Amanda’s website so see her work, and were not. Long story short, she contacted both Instagram and the accounts that posted her picture to no avail. Instagram never responded, and luckily for the owners of the infringing accounts, Amanda is a nice person.
6. Webstagram, ever heard of it?
Mobile isn’t the only way to view Instagram pictures. Web.stagra.com makes it really easy for people to search through both tags and users. So, if you think the trouble of searching through Instagram on an iPhone is going to deter someone from finding your copyright-infringing image, think again. If your name on Instagram is your real name, that picture you posted of you and your friends blackout drunk might easily make it to the first page of a Google Image search of your name. You can thank Web.stagram for that.
For the record, Gerald and I both like Instagram (Gerald is alarmingly addicted). This post isn’t intended to deter anyone from joining Instagram, only to inform about what you’re agreeing to and best practices to follow when using the platform. Instagram is awesome, though, check it out if you haven’t done so already.
Your Major on Social Media: Finance
Your Major on Social Media: Psychology
Have you ever been scrolling through your Twitter feed and seen a couple of tweets starting with a period before an @mention? Well, this is one of Twitter’s lesser-known quirks, and it silently plays a big role in what comes up in your feed.
When you Tweet directly at someone (by putting their @handle as the beginning of your Tweet), that Tweet only comes up in the feeds of users who follow both you and the person you are directly Tweeting at. Why? It’s pretty much so you don’t flood other people’s streams when you are tweeting back and forth with someone (Tweet convos, ya know?). For example:
That’s where the period comes in: If you dot before you @mention, your Tweet shows up in the feeds of all of your followers. If you don’t dot before you @mention, your tweet is considered conversational and only shows up on your stream, the stream of whoever you Tweeted at, and those lucky followers you both have in common.
So, if you want to Tweet directly at someone and you want it to go to all of your followers’ feeds, dot before you @mention. For example:
NOTE: It’s important to know that this trick is only for when you @mention people in the beginning of your Tweet. Tweets with @mentions elsewhere do not fall under this category, so don’t go around putting periods before every person you @mention.—
Most (if not all) of us are on Facebook. The reality is, however, that Twitter is much better for college students because it’s not just a social network, it’s a tool. Yes, a tool. Here are 5 reasons why you should leave Facebook for your personal life, and adopt Twitter to learn more about your interests and your possible future industry:
1. Everyone is on Twitter
Forget social network, Twitter is one of the most important media companies in the world. It is now one of the top 10 most visited sites. On Twitter you will find teachers, schools, and perhaps more important to you, professionals and lead publications in your areas of interest. With more than 500 million users, it’s almost a given that the people you want to work for are on Twitter. Marketing? Absolutely. Finance? No problem. Environmental Engineering? Yep, they’re there, too. These are just a few examples, but you get the point.
2. The Power of Lists
The ability to make lists, in my opinion, is the one of Twitter’s most powerful tools. Sadly, it’s also probably one of the least used. With lists, you have complete freedom to categorize anyone however you like. First thing I did when I got to my internship this summer was make a Twitter List of the most influential people on B2B Social Media Marketing. That way, I stayed up to date with trends and best practices during my time at LEWIS Pulse and trust me, it paid off. Lists can be public or private, so you can have a private list of your friends, and have public lists about your interests. Check out @The_SocialU’s lists (we’ve got some funny ones in there, too).
3. No Emotional Attachment
Ok, let me be clear: following people on Twitter is not like adding them as a friend on Facebook. There is no ‘friendship’ involved. In other words, people don’t get offended when you unfollow them on Twitter. I don’t follow most of my friends on Twitter, because that’s what Facebook is for. Why is this a reason to use Twitter instead of Facebook? Easy, you’ve probably amassed an enormous amount of Facebook “friends”, or people you really could care less about, and may be holding back on unfriending them because it would be awkward if you, say, ran into that person again. Whatever reason you may have, you simply won’t have this problem on Twitter.
4. The Twitter Door Swings Both Ways
People on Twitter want to interact. There is such a thing as professional networking on Twitter. Professionals and companies tweet constantly about the work they’re doing, relevant readings, and things that interest them. They are there because they want to be heard, and how do they know that people are listening to them? Responses. Twitter is a two way street, allow me to demonstrate:
5. Run Your Own Show, Make a Name for Yourself
Don’t be afraid to dive into Twitter: whatever you are interested in, you probably have opinions you could tweet and articles/readings that you could share. Maybe you come across an interesting thought on a school reading? For example, I stumbled upon a cool thought the other day when reading for a class, underlined the sentence in blue, took a picture with Instagram and shared it via Twitter:
The point is, on Twitter, you have the opportunity to make your voice heard by professionals and people you otherwise might not be able to connect with. In other words, get your name out there before you even start looking for a job. Oh, and by the way, your Twitter feed comes up when someone searches your name on Google – great way to make an awesome first impression before you even meet a potential employer.