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Social Media from a Millennial’s point of View

This article was triggered by a conversation I was having with someone about the use of social media by different socio-economic groups. 

The subject of Millennials came up and our views differed on how we thought they used social media. The only way to resolve this I thought, was to ask a millennial to give me their thoughts on social media. What could be simpler, I thought, than asking someone who is in the target audience to ask their friends and capture their thoughts. 

I should have known better.

The following is reproduced exactly as delivered….

A Millenial’s view of Social Media

Millennials, when asked, would probably tell you that they see social media as a good thing.

It’s a free, convenient way to stay in touch with friends and family across great distances, and a godsend on a slow Friday afternoon when the clock seems frozen and your boss isn’t looking at your screen.

Millennials will freely put their whole lives on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram without even thinking, after all, how else are you going to tell someone 70 miles away that you just ordered a really picturesque lasagne, or bae just said something romantic or even your exact knee jerk response to complex political issues which you will solve with no research or broader context? How will these hypothetical far flung spectators of their lives even survive without breaking news of the daily routine of other people? The danger here that so many fail to see is that when you stick something online it’s probably not going to stay private. There are a lot of ways this could go wrong.

The most popular way this could end up costing the average young person is career wise. According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey, 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.

Picture the scene; you’re a 20 something in an interview for an amazing job. Your clothes are ironed, your handshake was firm, you’ve managed to maintain eye contact and all of the questions breezed by.

This is a slam dunk.Social Media

At that moment the interviewer looks you square in the eye and asks for some context about one of your Facebook posts. At this point you may as well just stand up and leave rather than explain to a man you’ve spent the past 20 minutes convincing that you are a sober professional why you were doing shots off of a man dressed as Barney the dinosaur. The same survey says that more than a quarter of employers have found content online that has caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.

Evidently significant numbers of people, disproportionately Millennials, don’t seem to grasp the concept that if you air dirty laundry about your co-workers or horror of horrors your boss online, it’s probably going to leak back to them somehow.

Another looming downside of social media is that what you put on it will last a very long time.

Even if you have the wherewithal to delete your more embarrassing tweets posts and pictures after the fact there’s no guarantee that someone hasn’t copied them. Again this is an issue that disproportionately hits Millennials. Prior generations can rest easy knowing that all of the stupid things that they did in their youth are effectively unrecorded bar some Polaroid’s of bellbottoms and afros in the attic, Millennials have their emo phase broadcast to the world in glorious HD with multiple angles and accompanying angsty poetry.

With all this potential future blackmail material for people to laugh at you might wonder why anyone would keep using social media, sure there are some sweet benefits but the costs can be huge. However, cunning solutions have been found to counter these problems. To paraphrase a great man; life finds a way.

A popular response to the increase in employers checking social media has been to create a false page for them to examine, a profile which is updated semi regularly with inoffensive posts carefully cultivated to present the image of a professional young worker. All of the memes and party albums go on a separate page, completely unrelated and unrelatable to the first. Another, if more extreme response is to simply delete all of your online presence, websites exist to aid with this specific purpose such as deseat and based on the tasteful page layout they get a lot of business.

Ultimately social media is only a tool, the onus is on the user to control what they put on it.

Facebook logo

Why did Facebook send me 749 emails?

I know what you’re thinking, but this really isn’t a ‘click bait’ headline. They really did send me 749 emails in the last twelve months.

The reason? Simple really; I didn’t go on Facebook.

That’s right, from 9th December last year until today I haven’t visited my personal profile on Facebook.

I had grown increasingly tired of advertisements offering me mature singles and the opportunity to open a betting account when I’m a happily married man who doesn’t gamble. And when they weren’t offering me those delights it was pushing SEO courses, mostly from people who would have to pay me to teach them what SEO really is.

So what did I miss and what did I learn from this absence?

Well, I learned a few things, some of which came as quite a surprise.

I’m awful with birthdays

It’s true; I can’t even remember my brothers and sisters birthdays so I have no chance of remembering friends I went to school with over 40 years ago. That’s one thing that Facebook does well and apart from anything else it means that you at least have the opportunity to say something nice when someone has a birthday.

What I also realised though is that if I don’t post anything, it really doesn’t matter.

Sure I’ve missed the opportunity to be nice but I’m certain that there isn’t a single person who is friends with me on Facebook who is sitting there right now harbouring some niggle about me because I didn’t post on their timeline during the last year. I didn’t even post on my wife’s birthday and she’s OK with it so I expect everyone else is as well.

Facebook’s emails are relentless

At an average of just over two emails a day Facebook has hounded me during the past year. Every day I don’t go on it sends more emails. The problem is that they are unlike every other email sent by any other firm.

Everyone else who sends an email makes sure it contains a message; some sort of compelling reason to read it and then perhaps take action on the contents.

Facebook’s emails are different though. They send me a headline and nothing else.


Facebook click bait headlines

Facebook click bait headlines

It’s the ultimate click bait email and frankly bloody annoying, not least of which because some of the stuff that has been posted over the past year looked like it might be interesting. Had I receive more than just a click bait headline I might have been tempted to go on and take a deeper look but I hate being played.

Facebook emails

And because of my irrational hatred of these emails I missed something…..

I missed my friend’s breakdown live on Facebook, and their subsequent rescue

I only found out a week after the event that one of my friends had melted down on Facebook. Their life had taken a turn in the wrong direction and the subsequent outpourings were a clear cry for help. Fortunately for them they have a lot of Facebook friends and more importantly, some real life friends, some of whom were kind enough to ensure that a timely intervention prevented them from doing something stupid.

Had I known I would have picked the phone up as they live a long way away from me. But in many respects this is no different to life thirty years ago when if one of your friends a long way away had a problem you only found out about it long after the event. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel for them, or that you don’t want to help, far from it.

The upshot is that Facebook extends the net of people for whom you can have an interest and it allows you to maintain more relationships than you would have done thirty years ago. But with this comes enormous pressure and that becomes a facet of modern life which we can all do without.

I visited friends

Yes, as strange as it sounds I actually visited friends I hadn’t seen for years. Instead of relying on Facebook to keep a long distance and vicarious watch on their progress I picked the phone up, talked to them and then got in the car and went to see them.

One thing I can tell you is that it’s far better to meet someone face to face than it is to correspond endlessly on Facebook. Actually making the effort to see someone says more than liking their posts or saying hi on their birthdays. You should try it if you haven’t done it recently.

I got more done

I walked into a room the other day where three people were all sat, the TV blaring, and not one of them watching it. All of them were on their ‘devices’ on Facebook.

Facebook is an endless wash of trivia and distracts people more than they would care to admit. How many of you out there reading this have Facebook withdrawal symptoms if you don’t check your timeline every couple of hours?

Trust me; it’s much better if you don’t have to check it at all.

Without the endless distractions I managed to complete a number of key presentations that I had to do, I became Vice Chairman of a local society (yes, actually getting out into the real world and talking to people) and put together an award winning display.

In fact I have probably been my most productive over the past year and achieved more in my personal and business life than I had in the preceding years.

Without the endless need to check in, photograph my food and comment on comments or like people who’ve liked my post I found that I could achieve so much more with the time I got back. Facebook is great for so much but it is a thief of time.

I had no ideas about crazes, fads and soap stars

My brain is awash with trivia. People who know me know that I can generally recall odd snippets of rubbish about a diverse range of subjects but over the past year this has diminished somewhat. I no longer recognise soap stars unless they were in the soap twenty years ago. I can’t tell you who is seeing who or which celebrity misbehaved at some awards ceremony. The wash of daily trivia is genuinely lost on me. But I don’t think this is a bad thing.

I missed the ice bucket challenge but I still gave to charity. I missed the outpourings of grief and rage around disasters and atrocities that happened around the world but I still felt the same emotions as many of you. I didn’t see any cute pets doing crazy things but I’ve still retained my humanity, sense of humour and compassion.

It seems that choosing to not be on Facebook didn’t actually make me a bad person, nor I hope a worse one. It just gave me more time to deal with things in ways I chose, privately, and not in the public spotlight.

I read more

Yes, that old fashioned thing. I read books, I read newspapers, and I read magazines. In fact I read a lot of stuff that wasn’t on a screen and found it both relaxing and therapeutic.

I found myself in railway carriages surrounded by people engrossed in their devices. I sat in meetings where people were forever checking their phones like they had a nervous tic.

And through this I read. Or took time out to think or plan. I even took to writing a monthly column for all of our customers telling them what they needed to know about changes which were happening in the digital landscape.

All of this was better than continually checking my timeline.

My wife thought I’d unfriended her

This was probably the most grief from my decision not to go on Facebook; I was accused of unfriending my wife. The irony of course is that we see each other every day and this was a face to face conversation which seems unlikely if you aren’t friends with someone. We were actually sat next to each other but I think the irony was lost in that particular conversation….

I had been tagged into something recently but when she checked not only was the tag missing but she couldn’t see my profile. The assumption was naturally that I had blocked her but this rather missed the point. The point was that I hadn’t been on Facebook at all so how on earth was I supposed to block her?

As I still haven’t been on I have no idea what happened here, nor what changed but I do know that the following day everything was back to normal. Whether it was a ‘ghost in the machine’ or something else I can’t tell, but what I do know is that I was astonished to be defending myself in a conversation for something I didn’t do.

I spent more time on Twitter

Twitter_logo_blueOddly enough I did find myself turning to Twitter and became much more of a convert than I had been before.

More than anything I found that where Facebook takes some time for a story to get up a head of steam, on Twitter you can verify it within seconds.

Twitter became the medium of choice for my business and we have used this extensively over the past couple of months to drive awareness and business. It is far more effective in getting a message across and doesn’t suffer from being choked at source unless you pay, which is where Facebook has gone.

Like Facebook however it does have annoying adverts in your stream but at least they are clearly marked as such and you can whizz past them if they are not of any use. When I was last on Facebook I found that I was trying to be tricked into clicking on stuff which was actually thinly disguised advertising.

As a Marketing man I love great marketing and despite my rants I don’t mind good relevant advertising appearing in my threads and timelines. I understand it is what makes these platforms free at the point of use. What I would hope is that advertisers take notice of the words ‘good’ and ‘relevant’ in that sentence.

Funnily enough Twitter hasn’t offered me any mature singles or SEO courses but it does want me to start gambling…

So what did I miss?

Despite all the above I can say that there are some things that I missed about Facebook.

The main thing I missed about it is the one thing it was set up to do in the first place; to help me keep in touch with friends. I missed its convenience and the simple way that I can keep up with events in their lives with a relatively short investment of my time.

I missed the humour. I missed the posts from my friends whom I know will always make me laugh. I missed their witty comments, the cheeky banter and the ability to use it to bond with a group.

I missed the photos from where I grew up and places I love to go. I missed the photos from my friends as they enjoyed their lives. I missed their celebrations, triumphs and achievements. I expect I’m all the poorer for this but richer for getting a chunk of my life back. It’s a trade off in the end.


Despite my downer on Facebook it seems that there is a lot of good in the platform and it deserves a place in my daily life. What we need to ensure though is that me and Facebook come to an arrangement what suits both of us. I’m happy to invest my time in it as long as it promises not to overtake my life.

So I’m going back on and will, I’m sure, engage with a lot of people whom I’ve not corresponded with over the past twelve months. I will be taking baby steps at first and I will be controlling how much time it tries to suck from my life so if you are friends with me on Facebook please bear with me.

Oh, and I will be changing my email settings. In some countries 749 emails in a year could be considered harassment…..

From zero to spam in just seven weeks on LinkedIn

At the turn of the year I created a new LinkedIn account as a bit of an experiment. The idea was to use it to target some clear marketing messages to local businesses but also as a test to see just how secure my data was.

Linkedin LogoTo do this I created a brand new email address on a domain which had no other email addresses and using a formula at odds with standard naming conventions i.e. firstname.surname@ etc.

This morning, to my surprise, in my inbox is an email from the Indian Sub-continent, badly written, full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes and boasting a range of ‘major clients’, none of which I’d ever hear of.

The astonishing bit was that this email was sent out as part of a mailer from mailkitchen.com and obviously SPAM. Of course anyone can create a free account and send emails to anywhere in the world, but how did this individual get my email address?

The answer of course is that it was harvested from LinkedIn and now I’m stuck on a list somewhere. The dilemma now is do I ‘unsubscribe’ and thereby confirm that my email address is real or do I simply ignore it in the hope it goes away?

Whatever I do I’m damned really. The future holds many more spam emails I’m sure but one thing we do now know is that LinkedIn is an open goal for anyone creating spam lists.

Facebook Thumbs Down

Why Facebook is missing out on our clients advertising spend

Over the weekend I spotted an article in the Telegraph which suggested that small businesses in the UK simply don’t need to have a website any more as Facebook are promoting their new offering, which is a Facebook page. To give it credit the article was sub headed “Facebook is no substitute for a fully-fledged website, but for many it’s more than good enough“

Facebook Thumbs DownIn it the author reported, rather than argued, that Facebook’s not so new offering, allowing businesses to ‘promote’ a post, would sidestep the necessity for having a proper company website.

Frankly, this is errant nonsense and was nothing more than a big advertisement for Facebook. You see there is a problem with this and the main problem is that Facebook have missed the point. They want to leverage the clear advantage they have gained by offering small businesses a free page on their platform, but frankly that’s never going to be enough.

You see they have forgotten the ‘social’ bit and are concentrating on the ‘media’ bit.

People use social media to be ‘social’ and most people I know find the advertising intrusive and unwelcome. Add to that the fact that they have started to choke off the views that businesses get to their ordinary posts and updates, so only a fraction of your followers see them and their proposition is a busted flush.

One of our team is in a band and they have over 3000 active followers on their Facebook page. Two years ago they could be certain that around 90% of their followers would see anything they posted on their timeline. Their last post, sent this weekend, was seen by just 48 people.

Facebook have started to deliberately ‘choke’ off the number of views a post or update can have. In fact if you dive ever so deep into their terms and conditions you will find that they tell you that over time they will be reducing the numbers of followers they show your posts to . The reason is simple, they now want to charge you for the privilege of communicating with your followers.

When you change your business model, as Facebook have been forced to do, to focus on monetising everything that moves, you move from being the number one social media channel to just another advertising channel. You are now competing with a huge number of established platforms, not least of which is Google, along with every other media publisher in the country. And frankly at that point, it all falls down.

Facebook needs content to be the number one social channel, but are now choking that content at source. The more I create for my business the less you show it to my followers. Unless I pay. Well frankly if I’m going to pay I’d choose a channel where people are looking to buy, not just hang out and be social.

Sorry Facebook, it’s all downhill from here….

Facebook Thumbs Down

Bye Bye Facebook… It was nice knowing you!

We’ve been talking about the decline of Facebook for a while now, and it seems we’re not the only ones, as a new study of how teenagers use social media has determined that young users see Facebook as ‘dead and buried’.

Whereas once parents feared their children joining Facebook, the tables have turned as parents are using it to keep connected with families, whilst the younger users are moving onto cooler things.

“What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request.”

Of course this may be good news for Facebook considering the way they have been going lately, since the older generations who are now using Facebook are the ones with the disposable income for their ‘targeted’ marketing.

Meanwhile Snapchat, an image sharing app which allows users to send images which delete themselves after a short period, continues its exponential growth with over 400 million images sent every day, and recently turning down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. Co-founder Evan Spiegel told the Telegraph that he believes “deleting should be the default”, and we definitely agree in terms of maintaining privacy.

WhatsApp, a messaging app for smart phones, has also seen growth, overtaking Facebook as the number one way to send messages.

Facebook is now moving towards a ‘family’ orientated use, with teenagers using it as a way to keep in touch with older members of their family, or siblings who have left for university; as well as older generations using it to keep in touch with family members. This has moved completely away from Facebook’s early days, which was developed focusing on being a social network for young users at University.

So now you should expect to see a decline in both the numbers of users of Facebook, and ultimately the revenues generated from Facebook. This may take a few months to filter through, and it does give Facebook the opportunity to evolve, but in its current format Facebook is essentially dead in the water.

Perhaps 2014 will become the year when people realise that ‘social’ media is not a sales platform for business, but something that people use to be ‘social’!