Blog Posts

What Changes is Instagram Making In Response to Mental Health Concerns for Young People?

I’ve heard a lot of rumblings this week about changes coming to Instagram, in a step to protect the mental health of the platforms users – especially young people, under 18. So what are these changes and are they a step in the right direction for this highly criticised social network?

Instagram Head Adam Mosseri recently stated in a blog post: “The tragic reality is that some young people are influenced in a negative way by what they see online, and as a result they might hurt themselves. This is a real risk,”

Banning AR Plastic Surgery Filters

Instagram has decided to ban AR Filters that replicate the appearance of having plastic surgery. If you aren’t sure, AR Filters are the face filters, you can add to your Instagram stories and August the company rolled out an update which allowed anyone to publish their own AR Filter on the app. However this meant these filters going unchecked by the app developers and filters like the one below being created. In a bid to peel back the over editing and perfect image on Instagram these filters will now be removed from the app in the near future. As you can see the filter could be seen to promote these unrealistic beauty standards and in turn make young people compare themselves to this and strive for an unachievable standard.

Expanding Ban on Images/Memes/ Drawings Depicting Self Harm

Previously in February, Instagram banned all graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting, and also said it would prevent non-graphic content, such as images of healed scars, from showing up in search, hashtags and the explore tab. This ban is a further extension on that banning drawings, cartoons or any form of art depicting the same thing.

Influencers Promoting Weight-loss Products

Reality TV Stars Katie Price, Lauren Goodger and Georgia Harrison have all recently had their Instagram posts removed for promoting ‘BoomBod’ – Weight Loss Drink and ‘Protein Revolution’ – Weight Loss Gummies. These posts were banned by the ASA and deemed ‘irresponsible’. So why is this problematic for ASA.

ASA CAP Code 15.8 States : “Marketers must not state or imply that a balanced or varied diet cannot provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general. Individuals should not be encouraged to swap a healthy diet for supplementation…

The ad’s therefore break ASA guidelines, as they advertise that the supplement is a meal replacement and will make you lose weight.

In my opinion these changes are all a great step in the right direction for Instagram, more regulations should be put in place on social media to protect the mental health of our young people. Do I think its censorship? No I don’t because some of it is just blatant lies, the celebrities above advertising the dieting products are simply being paid to do it and haven’t probably even used the product. How is that any different than adults seeing fake news, not to mention that young peoples minds are much more impressionable. Well done Instagram, now let’s see more from Facebook please.

#WaPoDeathNotices – Where Do We Draw The Line Between Spin and Fake News?

If you haven’t been following the latest scandal in the Twitter-sphere I mean where have you been? But The Washington Post landed themselves in some hot water with the public over a headline that read ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.’ You can see the issue here, a slightly strange obituary for the leader of ISIS to described as an ‘austere religious scholar’. It didn’t take long for quick witted Tweeters to pick up on this and call out the newspaper, who proceeded to quickly changed their headline to a more appropriate alternative. However the incident promoted #WaPoDeathNotices to become trending on Twitter. Members of the public soon became spin doctors, creating their own versions of the blunder, for well known historical figures. A few of my favourites below:

You get the idea, have a look at the hashtag on Twitter for yourself, if you like dark humour and want a laugh.

But what’s the point here?

This is all just a great big glaringly obvious example of spin. Had you not known any prior information about the people mentioned in the tweet’s you might have simply read it on your newsfeed and believed it. Then you might pass that information onto to someone else, believing it to be from a reliable source.

Is this all sounding rather familiar, for me spin is an infant form of fake news, a stepping stone rather. I mean if you read some of the headlines on the Daily Mail they can present a drastically different version of events to an actual story, just for clickbait and views.

So where do we draw the line? Is spin ok, but fake news isn’t? Even if the a headline is spun to be misleading and someone doesn’t open the full article for clarity and is left with a false perception? My view is that journalists, political representatives and PRP’s should try and maintain their integrity by not writing spun headlines that could be misleading, as they should be aware that often in the age of social media a headline is all someone will read, while scrolling.

Are Influencer Collaborations Enough To Keep Consumers Craving Fast Fashion?

I recently watched new BBC series ‘Breaking Fashion’ the series is an exclusive look inside In The Style with it’s CEO Adam Frisbee. I have to stay when I first heard about the series I was really excited to watch it and see how things worked at the brand. In The Style is a brand a love and I really liked their collection with Lorna Luxe, so was happy to find out that one of the episodes was centred around this partnership.

Each episode was centred around a different project that the team were working on, 5 of the episodes looked at influencer collaborations and one at the team’s own brand. Why so much focus on influencers, rather than the brand itself you might ask? Well the brand is built around influencer collaborations and Adam himself states in the show that the brand sells much more units of influencer collections than of own brand. But influencers driving traffic to the website in turn, helps sell own brand too.

Adam makes some interesting comments in the documentary about criticisms of fast fashion. Stating that the brand does what it can to stop clothes from going to landfill and only produces the quantities it needs etc. However for me; fast fashion is more about changing the culture of trends. Things coming into fashion and out of fashion so quickly, leading to people throwing them away. Influencer culture is a big part of this as often once an influencer has been photographed in an outfit they won’t wear it again, promoting this throw away culture.

Whilst sustainable fashion as a cause is picking up traction in the media, it was clear to see from the documentary that we still have ways to come in beating fast fashion. The influencer collections proved to be extremely popular for the brand, often selling out very quickly. Influencers portray a luxury lifestyle on social media that consumers are eager to get a taste of and these collections are clearly no exception. Influencer marketing as a strategy is on the rise and is only set to get bigger in my opinion. What we need is more influencers promoting sustainable fashion for the industry to improve, which I think is unlikely to happen in the next few years.

Is ‘The Circle’ Just a Sad Satire for the Realities of Life on Social Media?

If you haven’t watched The Circle, I’ll break it down for you it’s basically a Reality TV Show where contestants are put into an apartment block but don’t meet and just communicate over a social media platform called ‘The Circle’. When a contestant goes in they build their own profile and can choose to play as themselves or to take up another identity as a ‘Catfish’. If they play as a ‘Catfish’ they can completely change their entire identity including their name, age, gender, gender, sexuality and use different pictures, in order to deceive the other players into believing this is truly them. Some players do this as a social experiment as they think they may be ‘more popular’ playing as another identity and some players just have the £100k prize money in mind.

The show is a self confessed ‘popularity contest’ with players ranking other players each week from their favourite to least favourite, in which the most popular player becomes an ‘Influencer’ and has the power to eliminate another player.

On the surface the shows is an enjoyable watch and is something never before seen on TV. (Fun Fact: I was actually interviewed to be on Season 1 of the show, but didn’t get to the next stage).

But when you think about it the show really is a sad reflection of what our society has become, simply a popularity contest, where anyone can be anyone online.

It easy to forget that on social media platforms like Instagram, you are only seeing what people want you to see and someone could be portraying their life completely differently than what the reality is, just for popularity ie – likes.

One of the finalists in this year’s show was ‘Sammie’ a single mum with a baby called Charlie. Who was actually a 26 year old man named James.

James was ‘faking it’ the entire time, thinking people would find it harder to block a single mum with a cute baby, which led him all the way to the final.

It got me thinking that the show completely mirrors our own use of social media. We only post the sides of ourselves that we want people to see and that we think will gain us popularity.

So the message of the day from me it’s important to view social media like the Circle and realise that what you see might not always be what you get and anyone really can be anyone.

Rise and Shine – Kylie Makes Money From Memes

If you aren’t familiar with Kylie Jenner – she is basically the Queen of the Internet and also the youngest self made billionaire according to Forbes.

In the past week Kylie has made headlines for her ‘Office Tour’ which she posted on her Youtube Channel. But it wasn’t Kylie’s million pound office pad that caused her to make headlines but rather the small sample of her singing the words ‘Rise and Shine’ whilst waking up her baby daughter Stormi.

This led to a Twitter frenzy of memes around ‘Rise and Shine’ and even the Queen of Pop Ariana Grande doing a cover of ‘Rise and Shine’.

So what did Kylie Jenner do? She got her business head on and thought how can I capitalise on this. Honestly she is a mini Kris Jenner if i’ve ever seen one.

She made Rise and Shine merch, selling her hoodies for $65 each, to make a pretty profit off this viral meme.

The hoodie even features the iconic sun with Kylie’s face in the centre which has become synonymous with the meme.

This just goes to show the fast pace at which marketers and brands need to move at to keep up with current trends.

Creators Like Shane Dawson are Bridging the Gap Between Youtube and Traditional Television

If you are a fan of Youtube or follower of the ‘Beauty Community’ you will probably have watched Shane Dawson’s recent online series’ featuring Jeffree Star, Tana Mongeau and his popular ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Series.

In the past few weeks Shane has just released his second series with Jeffree Star following on from the success of the first. The nine part series follows Shane making his first steps into the beauty community by creating a makeup collection with Jeffree Star Cosmetics.

Although Youtube series’ have been around for years, for me this was one of the first of it’s kind. Shane has over 20 million followers on the platform and commands audiences from multiple different genres on the sites.

Watching fashion and beauty videos on Youtube I’m used to watching videos that are around 20 mins long, usually makeup tutorials, clothing hauls or vlog style videos that follow the life of the creator. What I’ve watched from Shane recently is something completely different His videos are documentary style episodes that last one hour, sometimes more and follow the life of a particular person or give an insight into a particular culture. The new ‘Beautiful World of Jeffree Star’ series even has opening credits and theme music. The series’ Shane creates are more reminiscent of Netflix or Channel 4 style documentaries.

When I watch Shane’s videos I see a lot of comments that say things like ‘Shane should have his own Netflix series’. But I honestly feel like that would be a bad move. I think Youtube is a great platform for this type of video creation and that Shane’s videos take the platform in a different direction. It would be great to see other creators following suit and creating high level video series online.

Mattel Shows they Understand the Modern Consumer, by Paving the Way For More Inclusive Products – Other Brands Take Note

For a brand that once prided itself on it’s stick thin unrealistic ‘Barbie doll’, Mattel have been in the news recently but this time for all the right reasons. This month Mattel have been in the public eye for not one, not two, but three amazing new product launches that celebrate the need for inclusion to facilitate a modern day consumer. As someone who is highly interested in inclusion and diversity within marketing, this came as great news for me and I knew I had to write about it straight away.

The first product is a braille edition of the popular card game ‘UNO’ which for the first time will allow visually impaired and sighted folks to enjoy the game together. This is great news for members of the visually impaired community who will now be able to enjoy the game with their family and friends. Personally I think this is a great move for Mattel to show it cares about catering for all of it’s customers.

The second product is probably the one that excites me the most as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. It’s the launch of gender inclusive dolls that are free of labels. The dolls named ‘Creatable World’ have 6 variations and come with customisable accessories including wigs with short or long hair and the option for a skirt or trousers.

The brand states: “Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely…We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”

Lastly the third new product launch is this year’s ‘Career Barbie’ where Barbie is portrayed as a lawyer and not just your regular white and blonde barbie, ethnically diverse barbies too. this is a huge step forward for women’s representation in professional careers and is great to teach young girls that they can be whatever they want to be.

As you can see below this is not your typical ‘legally blonde’ style pink robe and sparkly purse lawyer that some might expect from the brand but instead a professional career look for barbie that shows a modern representation of the working woman.

These developments come shortly after the brand recieved praise in the summer for the launch of a Rosa Parks Doll in honour of the Civil Rights Activist. As well as an African American doll who used a wheelchair. The brand is just going from strength to strength in my opinion. Other brands *cough Victoria’s Secret* should look to Mattel as an example of the right way to respond to criticism of lack of diversity. It’s 2019 and we are here for this change.