Social Media and the changing rules of Friendship

A noticeable change has been demonstrated over the past few years where the rules of Friendship have changed, in part due to evolving communication technologies and the way Social Media has invaded our lives. Communication amongst friends traditionally took place through face-to-face conversations and telephone calls, but now these conversations are increasingly happening through virtual channels, through Social Media networks, instant messenger services and text-based mobile communications – networks of friends are expanding over countries and continents.

Conversations have arguably now become less social, contrary to the purpose of social networks, it’s possible to spend hours in front of a computer screen interacting, whilst potentially losing valuable social skills only gained from face-to-face conversation.

Boundaries

Boundaries for friendships and relationships have also been challenged – what was previously highly personal and sensitive is now in the public domain and amongst friends when it comes to disagreements, arguments and the making and breaking of relationships. People are encouraged to publicly get involved in the conversation and therefore have the opportunity to influence situations – sometimes this is positively influencing the outcome, but often personal politics becomes involved.

Privacy

Privacy is becoming non-existent and a small price to pay for the ability to converse with friends, see shared photos and the myriad of services now offered to enhance interaction. With giving up your privacy, it enables corporations to build strong and complex demographic profiles and target advertising based on interests, age, gender and location – information you have freely provided. On the flip-side of this is the privacy concerns amongst friends – relationships are incredibly complicated and simply being pictured in certain places or within certain company can cause tension and put stress on friendships.

Is social media destroying conversation?

With photos, comments, events and status updates – we can pretty much see everything our circle of friends have done, or are going to do. Does this provide fuel to start a conversation, or does it negate the need for a conversation altogether?

Relationships have also changed – the ending of a relationship is always a difficult and sad situation, and some level of dignity is required so as not to burn bridges or humiliate – Facebook has changed all that, and relationships can be as disposable as changing your relationship status to ‘Single’ – with or without consulting the other party.

Being deleted on Facebook has been linked with depression and even suicide – psychological studies have identified just what actions can cause some degree of hurt amongst friends.

Have you noticed a significant change in the rules of friendship because of social media? Comment below…

Have you got Klout?

Klout touts itself as a standard for influence, showing you who has the most power to make people take “action” across a variety of social networks and for a myriad of topics.

It does this through some very clever calculations, including the amount of responses your posts get, the amount of times these posts are shared on to others and the likelihood that your posts will be shared. (Full details of the way that Klout calculates your score here).

Klout have also teamed up with a number of businesses and offers ‘perks’ to particularly influential users – some of these perks have included tickets to early previews of a new movie, gift vouchers, laptops and most recently, invitations for accounts to the much coveted launch of Spotify in the US.

Whilst Klout claims to be a standard for influence, it can be manipulated

Klout calculates your score based on numerical factors, therefore is based on simple mathematics equations at its core. If you try hard enough you can manipulate your score – either through increasing the frequency of your tweets, or targeting your tweets at bots so that they will be retweeted. It’s also based on time – if you have a few days where you do not tweet, your score will drop. If someone with the influence of Charlie Sheen doesn’t tweet for a week, when he returns, will he be any less influential?

Read More: ‘Klout… and how it can be manipulated’ by Jillian Ney (Link)

Klout is broken

Raak, a social media consultancy asked the simple question “Can I improve my Klout score, just by tweeting more?” and set about proving this theory. They created some Twitter bots that would tweet at varying intervals quotes from a simple command-line application.

Over the course of 80 days, the bot that tweeted every minute amassed the largest following and commanded the highest Klout score, and elements of the calculations fluctuated inconsistently from day to day. Klout state that they filter out bots and other accounts that are not human, however a large number of the followers of the bot created for this experiment, were bots themselves.

Raak managed to prove their theory – tweeting more often is enough to improve your score.

Charlie Sheen, who holds the world record for the quickest person on Twitter to have a million followers, commanded a Klout score of 57 without posting a single tweet – for a service that encourages connecting, engaging and sharing, this can’t be right… surely?

Read more: “Klout is broken” (Link) / “How Charlie Sheen Broke Klout” (link)

Klout is a status symbol

Whilst providing a valuable metric in the difficult-to-measure field of social media, Klout allows you to place a widget on your sites and social media profiles displaying your score, as well as offering comparisons against your contacts – this encourages the “Look at how important I am” type of user onto the service, and encourages the manipulation of the flaws already mentioned and widely spoken about and so should not be taken as a true authority on how influential a user is.

Conclusion

It’s not all bad for Klout, there are certainly weaknesses, but plenty of positive features too. It should be seen as a tool amongst your arsenal to measure engagement across social media, and not relied on as the sole authority.

WordCampUK 2011 – What I learned

As someone proficient in HTML and CSS, and having dabbled a bit with customising some stock WordPress themes – I found that the prospect of writing a theme from scratch as something incredibly daunting. Conveniently, my home town Portsmouth was hosting WordCampUK – an informal conference for WordPress users, designer and developers.

I came with great expectations that I would learn about theme development and go away with a clear understanding of how it all worked – unfortunately, the conference didn’t quite live up to the expectations, but offered a far greater insight into aspects of web design I thought I knew pretty well and has challenged my own abilities and thinking ever since.

I came away with a greater understanding of  Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in particular and some prominent speakers were kind enough to share with them some real-life stories of their own business experiences.

Here’s a run down of the sessions I found to be most helpful:

WordPress in the Enterprise

This panel discussion went over the issues and barriers to getting WordPress into enterprises – a lot of blame pointing went on at Microsoft, because their infrastructure makes it difficult to integrate with WordPress, but it transpired some developments have occurred that would make it much easier – namely the WebMatrix software which can help to configure all the software needed to get WordPress up and running.

It was also noted that a big issue with adoption centres on the authentication methods for users – there is currently not a great solution to allowing WordPress to authenticate via ActiveDirectory or a similar single sign-on providers.

Advanced SEO with WordPress – Nick Garner

Nick told a fascinating and engaging story about Mr Whitehat, a website owner with aspirations to make lots of money from his site. The story follows his transition through normal and quite acceptable methods of SEO through to questionable and unethical methods of manipulating search engine listings – the lesson was clear: Push the boundaries, but only do what is sustainable.

Ten Proven Steps to the top of Google – Mark Adams

Mark talked about areas of SEO where he had proven experience and built upon and reinforced Nick Garner’s points. He gave clear and concise examples and tips to improving your search engine performance and easy ways to gain footing within the listings.

Our Biggest Mistakes – David Coveney

Perhaps one of the most interesting of all the talks, it was also the most personal. David Coveney told the story of Interconnect IT and the mistakes it had made throughout it’s growth. He covered negotiations with procurement teams, business relationships that didn’t work and the pitfalls of being too nice. Amongst the 10 biggest mistakes they made, he delivered some sound advice and guidance to aspiring business owners in the hopes that they take at least some of the points on board.

Copyright © James Coleman-Powell, 2016