Social Media Panic

I think it’s time to invent this new phrase.

Do me a favour and share my new linguistic revelation with your friends and followers on all your social media platforms.

Just click that little thumbs-up icon right now. Go on. Don’t read to the end – just share my pearls of wisdom with all and sundry immediately.

After all, that’s how we’re meant to act now in this fast-paced social media driven environment that we have all ended up living in, isn’t it?

Or perhaps you should read what I have to say first before jumping on my bandwagon and promoting my newly made-up phrase.

You’ve probably heard of ‘social panic’.

It took me about three seconds to look it up on Wikipedia:

“A social panic is a state where a social or community group reacts negatively and in extreme or irrational manners to unexpected or unforeseen changes in their expected social status quo”

definition of social panic

What is meant by “social panic”?

The first time I heard the phrase ‘social panic’ used was after a misguided bunch of people confused the word paedophile with paediatrician. A clinician was forced to leave her home after mob sprayed the words ‘paedo’ on her front door.

Now I’m not, for one minute, suggesting that our use of social media is related to this extreme case.

But what I do keep seeing is similar mob-like behaviour, where people post on social media without thinking about what they’re posting or why.

For starters, you’ve all seen thousands of libellous and politically dubious posts. But it’s also the quality of the posts which is often sacrificed in favour of the desperate need to post things immediately.

And it’s not just individuals getting caught up in this race to post immediately; it’s news outlets and business too.

The need to be factually correct.

As a media professional and content generator, it’s crucial that what I post and share online is as interesting as it is factual. It needs to be engaging with rich content.

To keep my clients happy my posts need to be of high quality and timed well, hopefully resulting in loads of likes and shares.

But it’s the frenzied way in which people and big media players are uploading their content that led me to coin my new phrase ‘social media panic’.

Social media rush to post

The rush to post to social media

There are times when things need to be posted immediately. And social media is a fantastic way for facilitating breaking news. In launching its ‘Facebook Live’ the company is tapping into this great way of reporting from the scene on a smartphone.

We should embrace this wonderful new method we have to disseminate live news to our audience but it’s also so important to know when not to spurt out content just because social media companies want us to.

I was recently at a day-long event in London. A team of journalists worked hard alongside me to document the day and produce as much content as they could. The day started with some live video and some iPhone snaps.

Some of my photos from the start of the day were also uploaded to accompany one of the journalist’s articles and they were all quickly published on their newspaper’s website and on Facebook.

Everyone checked their facts and the content was accurate if somewhat dull. My pictures were certainly dull.

Don’t be dull!

But, and here’s the bit that troubles me, as the day progressed everyone’s content improved as we discovered more interesting stories, interviewed more intriguing people and saw brilliant things that made for much stronger news photos.

That day we had the story to ourselves. And except for a few photos tweeted by the members of the public, there was no other competition. We should have had time to craft a great story and produce some wonderful visuals to go with it.

post at leisure

Slow down and breathe before you post

The next morning the newspaper ran the weak, rather dumbed-down story that had been filed in the morning. It was there on the page – a scattering of pictures and some quotes, languishing a few pages into the paper.

But I think the driving ‘social media panic’ behind the need to transmit any old content weakened the story published that day. The story on their website was not updated to include our new improved content. I guess their online team were too busy hashing together the latest titbits of un-newsworthy news.

If we had all kept our powder dry until the next day, our content would have sparkled and may well have been given a much better position in the paper, received more website hits, and, of course, would have been liked and shared far more times than it was.

It’s up to you if you want to share my ideas on ‘social media panic’ but please take your time to decide.

Do you want to share

Share if you want to, but be 100% certain before you do!

Knowing this might change how you work but it’s unlikely to speed up the rotation of the world if you post it right this second, but it just might if you wait.