What reasons do people have for joining social media? Everyone has their own individual motivations, however generally the most obvious one are likely to be one of more of the following:
- All my friends are on it and talking about it
- Fear of missing out (FOMO)
- I like to keep up with the latest trends and news
- I like to be nosey
- It’s a means of staying in contact with people post school/work
Whether we’re ‘Facebook stalking’ or comparing our current lives to those of old school chums, one of the main reasons why we increasingly post our lives online is to be part of a social media community. So, regardless of which social media site we use most, by signing up to social media we are usually – whether deliberately or not – becoming part of an online group or groups. Not everyone is necessarily a self-certified ‘Belieber’, ‘Directioner’ or a ‘Swifty’, but we tend to have certain accounts and profiles that we like to follow, to get our daily social media ‘fixes’.
Personally, I turn to Twitter to catch up on the latest sporting news, one-liners and news on my favourite bands (NB: still not a Belieber or a Directioner!). Take an average Monday morning commute: I know that by checking a fairly prescribed set of feeds, from BBC Sport and Sky Sports News to the likes of Rob Delaney and Frankie Boyle, I’ll be in the zone by the time I reach the Indigo office. Those choices might not mean anything to another social media user, but they’re my own personal ‘fix’.
That ‘FOMO’ issue is also a huge part of belonging to an online community or group. If you’re a member of a group of friends then it’s likely that you’ll have shared interests. If you’re a group of pals who love watching The Kardashians, then there’s a good chance you’ll follow all of them on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, sites where they actively cultivate a huge following.
Fans will want to ensure they don’t miss the latest ‘break the internet’ moment and run the risk of being left out of all the resulting chat the next day. And due to the breaking news quality of much of social media, users are less and less likely to wait for the morning papers for coverage of what’s happening – a persistent challenge to traditional media outlets that most are still coming to terms with.
That, of course, is a persistent challenge to traditional media sources that most outlets are still coming to terms with. One reaction has been the rise of communities of journalists on social media, with, for example, Scotland-focused political and social commentators like Alex Massie, Stephen Daisley and Jamie Ross shoring up audiences for their writing by cultivating big social media followings through constant savvy tweeting.
They may not quite be breaking the internet, but they do manage to keep us informed and entertained about Scottish politics in a digital age, and for that we salute them!
Euan Stirling is a Social Media Executive at Indigo