The History of Social Media

3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the History of Social Media

People seem to have a love/hate relationship with social media. On the one hand, humans are social beings. We crave interactions with others, and relationships play big roles in our everyday lives. Social media allows us to easily connect with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers. This can be construed in a positive or negative light depending on who you ask and when you ask them. Whatever your thoughts on social media are, it’s pretty clear it’s here to stay in one form or another. So, how did social media even start? Was it when the first cave painting emerged? When the first telegraph was sent? Did it start with the invention of the internet? The answer to this question isn’t clear cut, but there are plenty of interesting facts about the evolution of social media along the way! Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the history of social media on the internet.

 

1. CompuServe was an early online service provider that used a method similar to time-sharing.

CompuServe Information Service, a.k.a. CIS, was founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1969 as a subsidiary of Golden United Life Insurance. Initially, CompuServe had two objectives. The first was to provide computer processing support to the company, and the second was to sell excess computer capacity to other corporations through a kind of time-share system. In 1979, it began providing dial-up online information services to the owners of personal computers. CompuServe is known as the original online portal, offering message forums, online chat services, software libraries, and even online games! It grew in popularity in the 80s and 90s and was sold to AOL in 1997 with WorldCom acting as a broker for $1.2 billion in stock.

 

2. One of the first social media services was SixDegrees.com.

This social network site was named after the six degrees of separation concept, which is the idea that people have an average of six degrees of separation from each other. SixDegrees was founded in 1996 by Andrew Weinreich, and the website launched in 1997, making it one of the earliest social media sites on the internet. SixDegrees allowed users to create profiles, list their friends and acquaintances, and interact with other users. At its peak, SixDegrees had about 3.5 million registered users. Just two years after its launch, it was sold to YouthStream Media Networks for $125 million. SixDegrees was short-lived, though, in part because of the limitations of internet connectivity in the late 90s and early 2000s. It shut down in 2001. 

 

3. Users could rate the attractiveness of strangers on AmIHotOrNot.com.

James Hong and Jim Young, both engineers based in Silicon Valley, disagreed one day over whether or not a woman they passed on the street was attractive. Their solution? To create a website, of course! In October 2000, the two friends launched AmIHotOrNot.com. The site allowed users to voluntarily submit photos of themselves to be rated on a scale of 1 to 10 by others based on their attractiveness. It went viral. Within one week of launching, the site had reached nearly 2 million daily page views. The site incorporated dating and matchmaking elements.

Aspects of Hot Or Not impacted later dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid. The site was even said to have influenced Mark Zuckerburg to create FaceMash.com, where Harvard students could rate the looks of fellow students based on their student ID photos. Unlike Hot Or Not, FaceMash did not allow users to submit photos voluntarily. FaceMash received major backlash, both because students felt it violated their privacy and because it was seen as a copycat of Hot Or Not. After being called before the school’s administrative board, Zuckerburg took the site down. Hot Or Not was sold for a rumored $20 million to Avid Life Media in 2008. 

 

There are plenty of interesting stories when it comes to the history of social media. From computer time-sharing processes to rating the looks of strangers, there is a lot to learn about how social media has evolved. If you own a business, you probably know how important it is to be able to connect with your customers, whether it’s through an interactive website or your social media channels. If you’re looking for a marketing company with a stellar reputation to assist with any aspect of your digital marketing, look no further than The AD Leaf. We offer web design, search engine optimization, email marketing, social media management, digital advertising, and more! Give us a call today at (321) 255-0900 to learn how we could help you grow your business.

The Positive Power of Social Media

It’s no secret that there is a lot of negativity in the world right now. Many individuals have taken to social media to post their feelings, reactions, emotions, and to seek support from others. On Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020, much of the world participated in a social media campaign given the name #BlackOutTuesday. Amongst those hundreds of millions were businesses, from huge corporations to small locally owned businesses.

It’s important as a company to keep your social media campaign positive. This does not mean turning your back on what you believe in but ensuring that your content will not be viewed in any negative light. Staying positive and looking towards a better future is especially important to your audience. Brands that are viewed in a negative light will not succeed in their social media campaign. When Chase Bank insinuated that some of their customers have low balances due to their bad spending habits, the backlash was quick and clear. With more than 43.8 billion people on social media that is a huge hit to your company if you lose your social media following and good presence.

Staying neutral doesn’t mean turning a blind eye or lacking compassion amidst current events. Posting positive content occasionally can be a relief from the negativity we see on our feed. The Women’s Center of Brevard does a great job of doing this on social media. Occasionally they will feature activities for the family, uplifting-quotes, appreciation posts for sponsors and staff, and encouraging content. The goal is to get the audience to stop scrolling as a result of your positivity.

It’s hard not to let personal viewpoints and emotions spill over into how you present your company brand, but it’s important to remember that not every customer or client thinks exactly as you do. With a lot of negative situations going on, here are some tips on staying positive on social media.

  1.     Post Positively

This may seem obvious but think about how your posted content will impact society and your audience. Share appreciation posts, testimonials, and uplifting quotes. What you are posting should be inspiring and encouraging. Your goal should be to unite your audience in a positive way. A member of the audience is a potential customer. If the audience perceives your feed negatively, they are less likely to purchase from you.

  1.     Keep Judgment and Intimidation Off Social Media

Your opinion can be misperceived and taken as judgment. The old saying “keep your opinions to yourself,” applies to your social media campaign. What you believe may not be what everyone else believes. Compete with rivals in your industry but do not intimidate them. It is okay to compete with others in your industry but do not be hateful, rude, or derogatory in your competitive nature. Challenge your competitors in a clean way that can never be taken as slander or cruelty. Samsung is a great company that exemplifies poking fun at the competition without being cruel. Their commercial mocking Apple’s fanbase that waits in lines for hours for a new product launch is a great example of giving a company their props while comparing their quality and innovation. The opinion of a business owner can be different from that of their customer base. Therefore, keeping opinions on the inside can prevent the loss of an existing customer or future customer.

  1.     Do Showcase, Do Not Show Off

Yes, businesses should be showcasing their new items or services and achievements. However, it is discouraged to show off. The two things might seem like they are one and the same, but they are not. Showing off is perceived as flashy and looking for kudos for doing something good. Your business might have made the most money it has in years but that is not something you should be posting on social media. While your business might be excelling in all aspects your neighboring businesses might also be struggling. However, if your business wins “Salon of the Year” that is something you should be showcasing. That is a great accomplishment that your community awarded you and is a result of their support and your efforts to go above and beyond. Back in 2013, the airline company, WestJet, released a viral video that encouraged its customers to perform random acts of kindness, which has now coined the term “mini-miracles.” WestJet has kept the tradition of showing their gratitude and appreciation for their customers’ kindness alive for years.

  1.     Honesty Is Everything

All too often we see companies who are later caught in a lie. Covering up a mistake or mishap will only come back to bite you in the long run. This can lead to loss of business. Acknowledging an incident, apologizing, and taking a corrective course of action will produce the best outcome.  An alcohol delivery company, Grizzly, has a GREAT example of this recently! They accidentally sent out an email with placeholder text and sent out an apology email with coupon code “LOREMIPSUM”. Be positive in your acknowledgment and plan of action by putting the incident into the spotlight as a learning experience. Businesses that take ownership and are transparent will continue to be successful.

  1.     Be Respectful

Again, this might seem as obvious as being positive, but it can often be overlooked. Respect your community, respect your neighbors, respect your customers, and respect your brand. When posting something put yourself in the place of a spectator in your audience. Could your post be taken the wrong way despite not being meant maliciously? Is the content culturally unaware? Will anyone view the content as insensitive? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it isn’t something your business should be posting. Respecting your community extends to respecting your competitors, sometimes by supporting them. We often see this with small businesses in their local community, but large companies like T-Mobile and Sprint recently displayed their support for each other. As a segue to their merger, the two companies decided to provide their customers with more coverage during the pandemic by sharing their networks before the merger was official.

A positive social media campaign is one that inspires, makes your audience think, or gives them a warm fuzzy feeling. If you are a business and do not feel very strongly about something you should stay neutral in the matter. Do not follow the majority opinion to gain a following or increase engagement. Be genuine in your approach.

If you’ve recently been involved in a situation where your brand wasn’t represented in a positive manner and you’re struggling with getting back on your audience’s good side we are here to help. Feel free to give us a call at 321.255.0900 or you can email us to info@theadleaf.com. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

10 Tips for Communicating on Social Media During a Crisis

In times like these, the role of social media is taken to an unprecedented level. Recently, we saw a statistic that said 55% of Americans get their news from social media. While first-person accounts and opinions break up the newsfeed and shape narratives, the general user will turn to businesses for fact-based updates and solid information. This means your social media campaign must be strong, accurate, and adaptable as the environment changes. 

When the world is in a tailspin, what role does social media play in your crisis communications plan? 

  • Communication of updates to your audience
  • Support for those who need info
  • Listening to understand what your audience needs from you and your business

Whatever crisis we’re facing, COVID-19 related or not, we hope it passes and that we will come out on the other side a better community. In regards to social media, that means your campaign should be focused on building trust and connections with your audience for the long term. 

So how do you do that? Here are 10 tips we’ve put together to help you execute your strategy effectively:

 

1. Review (and possibly pause) your upcoming social calendar

Take a look at what you have scheduled for the next couple of weeks. Is it still timely and relevant? Will it feel tone-deaf or insensitive amidst everything going on? A great example is KFC. Before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, they had a “Finger-lickin’ Good Campaign” planned for the upcoming months. A really, really clever team member perked up and said “STOP! An ad campaign about touching your mouth in the middle of a pandemic probably isn’t a good idea…”. Good on you, team member. 

 

 

Don’t fret that all of your hard work has gone to waste, just think of it as being “repurposed” for a later date. You’ll thank yourself for having a great campaign ready to go when things settle down a bit.

 

2. Have a strong social media policy in place

You might not be able to see a crisis coming, but you can be prepared for one. An emergency response policy should be solid, flexible, and information focused. You’ll want to ensure that you have an up-to-date emergency contact list, guidance on accessing social account credentials or other important login information, guidelines for identifying the scope of the crisis, an internal communication plan, and an approval process for a response strategy.

 

3. Know who’s on your “tiger” team

Some people work really, really well under pressure. You want your emergency response team to be comprised of these team members. They need to be quick responders, fast thinkers, and amazing adapters. While you should have a team of these people ready to go, it’s important to have a wider team in place that’s still responsible for the day-to-day monitoring and overarching campaign development. Both have their own time and place and you’ll need both to execute your strategy to the best of your ability.

4. Ensure employees are aware of your organization’s position 

Is the system through which you disseminate company information strong? Do you have a process for distributing information about relief efforts, donations, or other programs? Now is the time to make sure it’s bulletproof to ensure the right information is getting to the right people and your staff feel supported during a stressful time. 

 

5. Communicate with honesty, openness, and compassion

This is pretty self-explanatory. Our favorite example of a brand taking a minute to pause and re-orient comes from Chiquita banana. They did a great job of incorporating the #StayAtHome campaign while still maintaining their brand voice and identity.

 

6. Cite credible sources

Again, pretty self-explanatory. As a manager of a social media campaign, you’re responsible for providing information that is accurate and honest. Your audience trusts you to be providing valid information. In a crisis, bad information is not only irresponsible but it has the potential to damage your reputation. It may be tempting to share shocking statistics or a new update but do your due diligence in fact-checking and ensuring what you’re sharing is supported by data from reputable sources like government agencies or organizations.

 

7. Listen to your audience to stay informed

Monitor your content closely and be prepared to make adjustments based on how your audience responds. If you begin sharing about how your company is supporting relief efforts and your audience feels what you’re sharing is ill-timed, then it might be wise to pull that content and redirect towards something else.

 

8. Avoid jumping on the “trend train”

Don’t attempt to spin a crisis. Plain and simple, it won’t work and it will receive negative backlash. Now, that’s not to say that you can’t adapt to a new environment and rethink your business model to fit the situation. Recently, the factory that produced the uniforms for the Philadelphia Phillies was getting creative about what they could do with all the unused fabric they had laying around after the season was postponed. They decided to take that material and repurpose it for cloth face masks. There’s a national shortage and they felt it was their social responsibility to reallocate what they had to serve the greater good. This is a great example of how to take advantage of the situation without trying to spin it in your favor or appear profit-driven.

 

9. Make room for questions

People will have questions. It’s unavoidable. As situations become more tense and uneasy, your audience will become hyper-aware of your company and your product or service. They’ll ask incredibly specific questions that you may have never been asked for. Be prepared and don’t be offended. Remember that people are trying to navigate a new situation just like you are.

 

10. Don’t go off the grid

This is incredibly important. I know at the beginning we mentioned “pausing” your campaign. But this is a temporary measure in order to regroup and come back stronger. You may feel continuing a social media campaign is insensitive in light of the current climate, but that’s simply not true. Your audience is looking for dependency and certainty wherever they can get it. They want to see you stand your ground and stay strong. 

 

We know that crafting a social media campaign in the middle of a crisis is probably the last thing you’re thinking about or even want to be doing. You have a business to run, employees to take care of, and customers to support. That’s where we come in. Let us help you through this season and ensure you come out on the other side strong.