This Is What Your Brain Looks Like On Social Media

 

It’s two o’clock in the morning. You’ve got an important meeting at work in just a few hours. But, instead of sleeping, you’re on your smartphone watching videos of puppies playing with newborn babies. The main culprit in this all-too-common scenario? Social media. Admit it—you’ve been there before. Sure, you might have some growing up or prioritizing to do, but that’s not the half of it. 

According to recent research, there’s a reason for this kind of illogical activity when people start using social media. Ya see, everyone is driven by an infinite set of social, environmental, biological and technological phenomena. Because of this, human decision-making is often fueled by a combination of the need for social identity and dopamine cravings. The result? Late nights, distracted employees and the inability to fully disconnect from social media’s digital realm.

The Human Brain and Social Media

Regardless of whether it’s a selfie with a local celebrity or Instagram post of a successful homemade meal, the common thread linking any and all social media activity is the same: brain candy. In 2010, researchers discovered that upwards of 80 percent of social media posts were directly related to immediate experiences.

Two years later in 2012, a pair of Harvard graduates decided to take things a step further to see exactly how self-disclosure and social media affect the brain. Their findings revealed that when people share their personal opinions and experiences to a widespread audience, the brain is immediately awarded with a shot of dopamine—the very same stuff that’s produced during sex, exercise or the consumption of a delicious meal.

Social Media as an Addiction

But wait—there’s more. In order to settle the debate as to whether Facebook can really be considered an addiction or not, a group of students and faculty at California State University, Fullerton conducted an interesting experiment

Headed by Ofir Turel, a psychologist at the aforementioned school, the study asked that 20 undergraduate students fill out a questionnaire that gauged the most common addiction-type symptoms related to Facebook use: anxiety, withdrawal and conflict over site content and engagement.

Participants were shown a combination of Facebook logos and traffic signs. Along with each flashed image was a brief, response-driven instruction to either press or not press a button. Using resonance imaging (fMRI) to monitor each person’s brain during the activity, it was concluded that, more often than not, Facebook cues were substantially more powerful triggers in people’s brains than traffic signs. 

As crazy as it sounds, this means that if you’re sharing the road with a motorist who’s addicted to some form of social media, he or she is more likely to quickly respond to a push notification than a sudden red light at a four-way intersection. Needless to say, Facebook—or any form of social media for that matter—can very much become an addiction.

Is Social Media Marketing Unethical?

As previously mentioned, the persuasive power of social media comes from a number of psychological, social and cultural factors. The best social media marketers are very aware of this and use strategic hooks to not only gain, but keep a user’s attention. Logging into Facebook is seen as stress-relieving action. Scrolling through a Twitter feed is instant entertainment for the bored. Finally, you guessed it—likes, retweets and comments keep the lonely coming back for more.

So, with all of this in mind, should social media marketing be viewed as the modern-day Joe Camel? Not in the slightest. The biggest point of differentiation comes from the fact that social media marketing—when done correctly, mind you—isn’t about pushing products. Instead, it seeks to build relationships with potential customers. 

And while said relationships certainly have the potential to lead to an unhealthy level of involvement, that’s the case with any kind of relationship—be it on Facebook, eHarmony or in person. More than anything, a social media marketer’s responsibility is to help people achieve personal satisfaction by providing them with helpful content. By so doing, both the user and brand stand to benefit.

Listen, there’s nothing innately wrong with hopping on Facebook every now and again to read up on the latest that BuzzFeed has to offer. To be honest, your societal status probably won’t even be called into question if you take the occasional Snapchat selfie in public—shocking, really. That said, to keep your brain happy and healthy, it’s never a bad idea to take a break from social media from time to time.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier comms publications.

 

Follow the Leader: How to Nab Top-Tier Industry Influencers as Followers On Twitter

 

So, you’ve taken on a new client and are responsible for not only creating the brand’s official Twitter account, but for arming it with with an ever-expanding group of loyal, industry-specific followers. 

Sounds simple enough, right? 

Well, if you’re like me and have done this a time or two, you understand that’s not the easiest of tasks. Anybody can hop online and follow and unfollow a few hundred people each and every week.

That’s not really the point. If your goal is to simply build an impressive number of followers, things should be just fine. 

That said, if you want top-tier industry influencers to see, interact with and promote your content, you’ll need a bit more strategic discipline. Here’s what you can look forward to:

Constant Interaction

No, this doesn’t mean you should start asking people to follow you. That’s about as pathetic as it gets. Instead, opt for subtle social interaction. 

After following one of an industry’s most reputable accounts, tweet to it about some of the content that’s being published. In time, you could even go as far as asking a question about something specific of theirs that you found interesting in your Twitter feed. 

While you might not get a response, keep at it. 

Persistence—without being annoying, of course—will pay dividends. Soon enough, your Twitter handle will receive something in return. 

Additionally, retweet and favorite posts that truly stand out to you as being interesting. This isn’t an invitation to take things to an extreme, but the occasional use of this tactic is highly effective.

Awesome Content

There’s no getting around this. If your content blows chunks, nobody is going to interact with it, let alone follow you back. 

Original images and videos are great for this, but you can even take things a step further by linking your client’s blog to a designated Twitter account. That way, any and all published content is automatically shared on Twitter for people to see. 

Consider doing something similar, but with any one of an industry’s leading Twitter accounts. 

For example, the next time you’re composing a blog post, reference a published piece from another thought leader within your client’s specific field of interest. By so doing, when it comes time for a Tweet’s copy to be produced, handle tagging can naturally occur.

Once again, I just want to emphasize the importance of quality content. Don’t cut corners with this or you’ll never have influential eyes pouring over your tweets.

Direct Messaging

If we were dealing with a real romantic relationship, you could say that this is the hand hold right before the kiss. Just so there’s no confusion, the hand hold is the DM conversation and the kiss is the subsequent social relationship that develops. 

Basically, DMs are seen as a way to solidify said relationship. Needless to say, after a number of days, weeks or even months, this can come as a relief.

However, it’s important to remember that a DM can only be sent and received between two accounts that are already following each other.

Whatever the level of experience you have with Twitter might be, it’s vital that you have the best accounts following you. The real beauty of Twitter is its ability to take the very link a tweet is promoting and build it into something substantial. 

If you’re serious about Twitter, take the necessary time to implement each of the aforementioned suggestions. Trust me—you’ll be surprised at what you’ll be able to accomplish.

More than likely, if you frequent Echelon, you’re fairly active on Twitter and are always working to not only accumulate more followers, but to improve the quality of the accounts that see your content. What’s worked for you? Conversely, what hasn’t? Share your wealth of knowledge in the comments section below.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.

When Push Notifications Abound: Taking a Break From Social Media

 

Social media is great. Seriously, I love the pastime. It’s funny, because when I first got started with social media, I never really thought that it would become anything more than a way for me to stay connected with distant friends and family members. Years later, I’m seeing that the medium is so much more.

My Personal Experience

In fact, at least in my case, it’s become a healthy part of my career. While a tremendous blessing, the all-encompassing, ever-present nature of social media can be hard to deal with if you’re as obsessive-compulsive as I am. 

It used to be that I only lived for the thrill of work-related email. Yup, that’s an actual thing. Crazy, huh? If you wanted anything from me, all you had to do was shoot me an email and I’d literally respond within five minutes. 

When social media came along, the high of push notifications was almost more than I could bear. It became a type of heroin, believe it or not. However, as time went on, I soon recognized that this had to change. 

Listen, I’m not trying to turn this post into an addiction recovery bit or compare social media cravings to a dependence on illegal drugs or prescription medications, but a social media strategist’s happiness can take a severe hit when there’s no real disconnect between work and home life. I get that on call social interaction is of the utmost importance, but there’s a clear line that shouldn’t be crossed.

Identifying a Problem

How do you know when said line has been crossed? Well, there are a number of indications. For starters, if you simply can’t get your mind off of a client’s social presence—regardless of platform, for that matter—it might be time to figuratively press pause. Oftentimes, this is made manifest by the continual checking of a smartphone.

Additionally, if you’ve found that social media has started to distract you from other responsibilities—be they professional or personal—consider giving things a rest. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to completely do away with any and all social media practices. In fact, rarely is this a necessary or realistic answer.

Pinpointing Solutions

For some, in fact, such an act might cause a job to be unnecessarily placed in jeopardy. Whatever the situation, there are a number of responses to help solve the dilemma:

  1. Reevaluate Audience Interaction - Not every social channel works for any given industry. Take a step back and look at where your current social strategy directs its various efforts. Odds are, if some time has passed since your last social audit occurred, there are some networks being used that see very little user engagement. Basically, if an audience isn’t there, there’s no sense in wasting energy. Cut the cord and move on.
  2. Schedule Social Posts - More than likely, you’re already doing this one through Hootsuite, Sprout Social or any other social-scheduling program. That stated, if in need of a break, schedule out a month’s worth of top-tier posts. That way, you can relax while social is still somewhat being addressed.
  3. Cease to Participate - When this method is put into practice, there’s no liking, sharing, following or favoriting. Sure, this requires some real determination, but it can be super effective when done properly.
  4. Temporarily Deactivate an Account - Not everyone is tough enough to just quit things cold turkey. Sound like you? Instead of throwing in the towel, temporarily deactivate your account. Usually, within a month’s time, it can be fully restored.
  5. Permanently Delete an Account - This isn’t as drastic as it sounds, but it really should be seen only as a final solution. Unless you’re absolutely certain this is what you want, opt for something slightly less final.

Undeniably, social media has become an increasingly important part of digital PR. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to get involved. But, if social media becomes one of those “too much of a good thing” sort of issues, look to cut back. Once things are back under control and your sanity has been regained, you’ll dive back into social and be more effective than ever before.

So, now that my words have been shared, what do you think? How much social is too much social? What are some of the tell-tale signs of a person who can’t get his or her social involvement under control? More importantly, how can an out-of-control social habit be overcome? As always, please publish your thoughts in the comments section below.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.

Social Media Marketing’s 8 Most Annoying, Overused Buzzwords

 

Buzzwords. Generally speaking, they’re purely the stuff of public relations. Seriously, PR pros use them as if they were a comfort blanket of sorts. 

Currently, seeing as how PR has evolved into a beast comprising a multitude of other communicative fields—blogging, copywriting, SEO and social media marketing—the list of annoying, overused terms has painfully become even more expansive.

With respect to the latter of the aforementioned bunch, things are worse than they’ve ever been before. No joke. Check out the following list to see what I’m talking about:

1) ‘Engagement’

No, this doesn’t have anything to do with beautiful white dresses, diamond rings or glass slippers. This term references the thing that social media specialists supposedly spend all day doing: reaching out and interacting with brand fans. 

Granted, more often than not, these sorts of interactions are scheduled and robotic in nature, but in theory, hardcore engagement is what’s technically taking place.

2) ‘Industry Influencer’

Every social media marketer wants to have this title, but few are those who actually earn it. Well, if you count those who’ve included this on their LinkedIn profile pages, then most of them already do. 

Needless to say, it doesn’t mean much when the most social media experience you have is helping your grandmother access photos of her grandchildren while on Facebook.

3) ‘Thought Leader’

This one pairs nicely with the buzzword that precedes it. To be an “Industry Influencer” is one thing, but to be a “Thought Leader” is to enter a whole new realm of awesomeness.

To qualify for social media’s equivalent of a black belt, you’ve got to have a minimum of 100,000 followers on Twitter, regardless of whether they’ve been purchased or not. Any less, and you’re just another punk with a Twitter feed and a bunch of unread, automated DMs in his inbox.

4) ‘Social Listening’

As previously mentioned, social media is about engagement. Shockingly, if you’re to engage in conversation with someone, you’ve got to actually listen to them. 

In fact, studies have shown that social media marketers who’ve been involved in long, successful relationships actually perform better in the workplace.

Okay, so no study’s really shown that. But if one had, it sure would’ve been convenient in proving my point.

5) ‘Big Data’

People get into social media marketing because they hate numbers. Ironically, the joke’s on them, because there are plenty of analytics to go around. 

As far as numbers are concerned, though, nobody actually knows what big data even is. It sounds smart, so it’s tossed around like a frisbee. 

If confused, you’re neither an “Industry Influencer” or a “Thought Leader.” Heck, go talk to a web scraper. They should be able to help you make sense of all this stuff.

6) ‘ROI’

Social media marketers talk about this all the time because, when proven, it’s the very thing that keeps them gainfully employed. 

However, when absent, it’s back to the call center and sleeping on the couch in the living room.

7) ‘Growth Hacker’

There’s so much confusion surrounding this title, it’s scary. 

Thankfully, the good folks at QuickSprout defined the term, saying, “A growth hacker is not a replacement for a marketer. A growth hacker is not better than marketer. A growth hacker is just different than a marketer. To use the most succinct definition…, “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.”

Exactly. Simple enough, right? Wrong. That’s why this phrase is used so frequently. In theory, if it sounds fancy enough and is said over and over again, a sensical definition will eventually catch on.

8) ‘Content’

This is by far the worst of them all. What’s crazy is that this term embodies just about everything in social media. 

What’s pushed? Content. What’s shared? Content. What’s to be improved? Content. What’s king? Content. I swear, though true, if I hear that “content is king” one more time, I might just go right ahead gouge my own eyes out.

Obviously, this post was—more than just about anything else—a way to have some fun with the most commonly-heard terms in the world of social media marketing. 

Now it’s time for you to give me the best you’ve got. What’s been left off of this list or what could’ve been explained better? Jump down to the comments section below to share your thoughts.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.

Millennial Graduates: You Don’t Get Social Media

 

Salt and pepper. Peanut butter and Jelly. Yin and yang. They all innately go together. Likewise, the world of social media and the very Millennials who made the platform popular in the first place go hand in hand. That being said, just because you’re a young person who’s yet to have experienced male-pattern baldness, doesn’t mean you were born a genius of social media marketing.

Using Social Media Responsibly

Remember how your mother always told you to never run with scissors when you were growing up? Seemed easy enough, right? To this day, your vital organs have yet to have been penetrated by a pair of choppers, so all is well, supposedly. Well, as far as social media is concerned, things aren’t quite so simple, though they should be.

My guess is that your boss hasn’t come out and explicitly asked that you keep your personal social account activity as mature as possible, but he really shouldn’t have to. Social media makes the world small. That slightly promiscuous photo or crotch-grab video is never far from the reach of your precious clients. You think they’ll be happy to learn that MTV’s Steve-O 2.0 is running all their social profiles? Exactly.

Scheduling Social Media Activity

While there’s certainly plenty to be said about realistic human engagement out in the social sphere, religious excommunication is unlikely to occur just because you decided to use Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule out a few Facebook posts, tweets or pins. 

With that in mind, however, this is something most young people aren’t used to. Real-time posts of selfies and homemade food are great, but any seasoned social media specialist understands that time is of the utmost importance. If you’re doing the whole social thing correctly, scheduling will be seen as a blessing, rather than a burden.

Analytics as a Proof of Digital Mastery

Generally speaking, as far as academics are concerned, there are two types of people: math and science gurus or reading and writing studs. More than likely, if you’ve made social media an integral part of your money-making lifestyle, you belong in the latter group. 

Because of this, numbers are a bit terrifying. Listen, nobody is asking you to do 100 multiplication tables in five minutes, so just relax. You’re not a math and science nerd, but odds are, the person who’s hired you to make sense of social media and digital PR very much is. Millennials, suck it up and use the many social media tools at your disposal to help your clients understand what it is that you’re doing with their money. After all, they deserve to know.

Unfortunately, as a Millennial, I’m entirely certain as to the truthfulness of the aforementioned. Why? Well, I’m one of those prideful, entitled jerks and I’ve both been there and done that. Honestly, to a certain degree, I’m still in the trenches. Anyway, what do you think? Commonly, what are Millennials prone to screwing up with social media? Voice your opinion in the comments section below.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.

Apart From HootSuite, the 3 Best Social Media Tools for Impoverished Strategists

 

If you’re a young, up-and-coming social media strategist, more than likely, you’ve already become familiar with a couple of different things: how difficult it is to juggle a variety of different social channels and the daily consumption of Ramen Noodles. 

Yup, that’s the cost, at least when starting out, of making a living off of the very thing that most people do in their free time. Fortunately, apart from Hootsuite, there are a number of other free social media tools which, when properly used, make the professional lives of starving social strategists slightly more enjoyable. Here are three of my personal favorites:

1) Facebook Insights

As a far as free social tools are concerned, Facebook Insights is easily in second place, directly behind Hootsuite. If you consider yourself an expert marketer on Facebook and have yet to have explored all that Facebook Insights has to offer, it might be time to strongly consider a career change. 

Sure, Facebook has made some recent changes making advertising a more difficult endeavor, but that shouldn’t stop you from using Facebook Insights. Through the free service, you can easily come to better understand the behavior of your target audience. Furthermore, likes, engagement and post reach are all presented in an easy-to-read format for account managers.

2) TweetDeck

I’m a fan of pushing as much content as possible and no social platform is better for that than Twitter. If you’re like me and use Twitter on a regular basis, you’ve probably already heard of TweetDeck. Shockingly, there’s a reason for that—it’s incredible. 

Similar to Hootsuite, TweetDeck allows users to schedule tweets and keep up-to-date with the latest hashtags, topics and events that Twitter has to offer. Simply put, if you’re serious about Twitter and haven’t made this happen quite yet, hop on over to and give things a look. You’ll be happy with what you find.

3) IceRocket

Okay, so this one’s a bit different from the previous two tools. Originally launched in 2004, IceRocket was intended for bloggers and, seeing as how many of us PR pros regularly produce engaging blog posts, this resource is pure gold. 

Serving as more of a search engine, I use IceRocket to to not only track blog and client mentions on the Internet, but also on Facebook and Twitter. Even better, use IceRocket’s trend report to add a visual twist to more effectively monitor mentions. While the interface isn’t as in-depth as you might like, it’s better than forking over a few hundred bucks a month for more expensive social scanning systems.

Additionally, as time goes on and the social movement gains even more steam than it already has, there are bound to be more tools made readily available for public use. Needless to say, keep your eyes peeled. Things are only going to get better.

Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of free social media tools, by any means. With that in mind, which social tools have you used to help build your clients’ images out on the World Wide Web? What’s worked efficiently? Conversely, what’s tools are more imposters than anything else? Let me know in the comments section below.

 


Lucas Miller is the Founder of Echelon Copy. When not writing, editing or running, he's working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the "World's Greatest Pompadour." Additionally, for what it's worth, his editorial works have been featured on Social Media Today, Business2Community, Ragan's PR Daily, Spin Sucks and many other top-tier PR publications.