Does your voice matter on social media?

In theory it’s never been easier for everyone to

have their say and publish it to the world.

But are social media networks really an even playing ground?

Thanks to social media, in theory it’s never been easier for everyone to have their say and publish it to the world. The power of the internet has meant we’ve all been given a platform to tell our stories, respond to breaking news as it happens and comment on what’s happening in the world straight from the comfort of your own home.

The immediacy of posting to Twitter combined with tapping into trending hashtags and having access to reach out to high profile people by tagging them in your tweet have become fundamental tools of activists and citizen journalists to get their voice heard.

Whether it is comment on #metoo, gender issues, Brexit, or the latest knife crime statistics, the ability to express an opinion, or point of view, can be done at the touch of a button or with the swipe of a screen, and that message can reach a global audience in seconds.

 

However, while being able to make a statement for the world to hear is possible, there still seems to be a marked difference between the impact major players have when they take to social media and online platforms, than that of the everyday user.  The reality is, it’s still national newspapers, celebrities and ‘influencers’ who are listened to by the masses – and if a member of the public was to be taken equally as seriously, their follower numbers would need to be seriously huge.

Acknowledging this uneven level playing field in the Twitter space, ‘Ye’ (formally known as Kanye West) said:

We should be able to participate in social media without having to show how many followers or likes we have. Just like how we can turn off the comments we should be able to turn off the display of followers. This has an intense negative impact on our self worth.”

Co-founder and CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey responded positively to West’s concerns saying “What made sense 12 years ago doesn’t make sense today. At least for us. Us making that number bold and big incentivized people to want to increase it, and feel bad if they couldn’t. That’s not right. We want to incentivize contribution to the global conversation and consciousness.”

It seems that what was once an incentive for the network site, now actually hinders users in participating equally and getting their voice across, particularly when it comes to the political and social conversations.

The main outcome of this very public conversation, was that the two men agreed that Twitter’s original features of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ being displayed as big numbers simply hasn’t evolved with the role that social media now plays. It can only be a positive thing that companies are looking at reworking this, so that opinions will matter, whatever an individual’s reach or influence might be.

A ‘metric-free social media’ isn’t a completely new idea, though. A professor of new media at the University of Illinois, Benjamin Grosser, created a browser extension that hides all metrics on Twitter. Once added, it means you can view different user’s content based purely off of what they say – without prioritising or even disregarding someone’s tweet based on how many followers or likes they have.

This extension, called Twitter Demetricator, is based off of Grosser’s thoughts that all of the numbers and metrics seem to present our social value. This can have a real impact on who we follow, what we post and how we feel when we use the site. By activating the Twitter demetricator, you’re able to view tweets as they are and make unbiased judgements.

Richard Wilson, CEO of CLICKON, said, “We are living in a time where people are able to be their own content creators and tell their stories, their way. While there is still a place for mainstream journalism, the days of knowing what is happening in the world by tuning into the six o’clock news, is over. Consumers want to know what is going on right now, and the internet has made that the norm, and at the same time they also want a direct right to reply – which they have. Social media has started a revolution, but the people inside those organisations need to ensure that their platforms evolve with the times and still offer consumers what they want, which is often simply a right to reply and a voice that matters.”

CLICKON’s Creative Director, Benjamin Potter, added, “We work with a range of clients to ensure their voice and opinion is heard above the noise, so that they are really connecting with people and getting their attention. Saying that the small guy doesn’t matter if they don’t have a certain number of followers, can’t continue because it is exactly these voices and opinions that count. Moving forwards we hope that the social media platforms will update their offerings and make the changes necessary to ensure everyone gets a chance to be part of the bigger picture.

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