Keeping It Real

Speaking about social media, a freelance writer I know recently wrote, “Scrolling through post after post of personal attacks on individuals and overwhelmingly negative comment threads and arguments, I decided I’d had enough. I deactivated my Facebook account, which I’ve had since 2005. I’m not sure yet if I’ll go back, but I needed a break from the toxicity.”

It’s hard not to see her point of view, although I’m not quite ready to disconnect entirely. While it’s easy to blame social media for the world’s ills, I (usually) think of it as a means of self-expression with the occasional chance to be creative or funny or philosophical or do a little business. I’m much happier pouring my energy into amplifying our clients’ news through HUNTER channels (@HPRPebbleBeach) and reaching members of the media and others interested in reporting on—and living—the upscale, golf lifestyle.

But then, just as fast as social media entered our lives, it changes. Cute pet videos make way for misinformation. Are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram driving society or reflecting it?

One thing is for sure: What users want from social media is definitely in flux. I was fascinated by a recent article in YPulse: “Being Too Aspirational Is Repellent Now.”

Instead of reading posts from celebrities espousing “we’re all in this together,” written from the bubble of their mansions, young people want to hear from and see others going through similar—authentic—circumstances, according to Alessandro Bogliari, the co-founder of The Influencer Marketing Factory.

“Because of the pandemic, there has been a big shift from ‘worshipping’ celebs to trying to have a more ‘normal’ connection with influencers who were struggling as well.” 

YPulse says that Gen Z wants “real” information. That means influencer programs showing perfectly curated imagery may be less effective. To have an impact, it’s necessary to focus on real product benefits and real information. People still want to be inspired, just not with the totally out of reach.

“Genuinfluencers,” a new term (at least for me), are the desirable social media influencers now. The past (pre-Covid) era of showboating excess and aspirational product placement has been eclipsed by something more grounded.

This has fascinating consequences, for both individuals and businesses. I wrote just last month in this space about how we’re always telling our clients to keep it real. If social media is a reflection of our times, it’s nice to see that the rest of the world agrees.

I’m curious: Are your feelings about social media changing? Are you using it more or less? Are you more or less likely to “believe” it?