This blog post may contain affiliate links.
Saturday, April 6, 2013

Is social media just a big popularity contest?

Social media is a huge part of our lives these days and I admit I would be lost without it. I cant even remember how I functioned before it existed. There are many arguments for and against it. In the past few weeks I have only just really learnt how to use instagram properly (who would've thought you could hash tag your photos? yea I'm that dumb) and its brought me to the question, is social media pretty much one big popularity contest? Allow me to explore this idea:

I do admit I am drawn to instagram because I love taking photos and well its essentially a photo editing app, so you know the two go together. I never really truly harnessed the social aspect of it though. I was just using it to make some cute photos a little cuter. My sister in law recently introduced me to the fact that you can hash tag your photos which shares them in groups with the same hash tag - which leads to more people seeing them and people liking them (if they feel so inclined). I am so out of the loop that I thought hash tags were just a twitter thing (and sometimes the annoying people do it in their facebook status too because they clearly cant speak real english). What do you know, when I use hash tags I get more people liking my photos. At first I got a bit addicted to this and was hash tagging like crazy, but now I'm thinking do I really like the idea of strangers seeing my personal photos? Apparently you can get followers too, which was another foreign concept to me - I just thought my friends were automatically added to my followers list when they joined instagram. I never realised anyone could follow me. And apparently the more followers you have the cooler you are. Or so the theory goes? It seems hash tagging and followers are the main point of instagram - and here I was thinking it was just a photo editing app.

So, if instagram is a photo editing app which combines the options of likes and followers, is it not just a popularity contest? Would it be anywhere near as popular or useful if it didn't have these options? 
I am by no means an expert on twitter as I don't even use it. I think I might have started an account once then realised I didn't care enough to use it. From what I understand twitter was originally created so you could follow celebrities? To kind of cut out the paparazzi and give people direct access to what the celebrities are doing or thinking (or whatever they feel the need to share). I'm pretty sure the idea is you follow people and people follow you. The idea being the more people who follow you the more popular you are? I personally don't see the point of using a platform that only allows you to update a status of 40 characters or less (when you can do that and more on facebook).

If twitter is all about following people and getting followers doesn't that just make it a popularity contest? Or am I just completely ill informed?

I do love facebook. I don't remember what I ever did before it existed. For me facebook is mainly a way to stay in touch with people who I don't see all the time. But it also does nicely combine the abilities of twitter and instagram (not just because they own it). Facebook is my favourite social media platform because it allows me to share whats on my mind through status updates, post my photos, comment on others, share my blog posts, stay in touch with friends, create events, remember peoples birthdays and play games amongst other things. Seems a much more productive use of my time (and an interesting way to procrastinate). However, it is still essentially focused around popularity I think. I mean look at all the ways you can measure your popularity against others - the number of friends you have, the number of comments on your posts, the number of likes you get.

If people did not comment, like or share your posts and photos, would you spend as much time on facebook? Do you compare yourself to your friends based on these things?

The common ground of social media is to share things between others. Obviously, because the premise of being social is interacting with one another. Sharing seems to be directly related to the amount of people who like your updates, posts, photos etc. In the sense that the amount things are shared is based on the amount of people who like them. So given this premise, does this not mean that social media platforms are essentially run based on popularity? Hence social media is a big popularity contest?

I should probably harness the power of social media more - if not just to promote my blog, but to be honest being popular is not high on my priority list. Yes I love it when people read my blog and I would love it if I was reaching more people, but its not the be all and end all. I'm sure there are numerous ways I could utilise social media more effectively to become popular if I tried hard enough. Perhaps you can all enlighten me on how to do this?

By the way feel free to share, tweet or pin this post as much as you like ;)

Toni x

Would you like to comment?

  1. You have pretty much summed up the social media. Apart form instant sharing, it bridges gaps in time and place to kickstart ideas and events. But I am skeptic about the popularity part -it eventually translates to mutual backscratching. I also believe in quality vis-a-vis quantity when it comes to relations. It is simply not possible carry on with a humongous web of relations without criminal waste of time. The outcome is often dubious and ephemeral.

  2. I just stumbled across this post and you are so right, social media is basically just one big high school playground. And it is such a liar - we only post the selves we want to have on show, not the reality!