Every now and again, I think it’s important to stop and ask us all what it means to be responsible marketers. Communication has immense power to shape the future and consequently a legacy we’ll either be proud or ashamed to leave behind—both as individuals and professionals.
What’s struck me recently is the seemingly endless tug-of-war on social media between wanting to showcase our best selves and realizing the false reality we can easily create.
As a millennial, I’ve grown up with social media. Each introduction of a new platform was touted as an opportunity to bring people together, however, the darker side of social media became quickly apparent. Users became infatuated with the picture-perfect snapshots of their friends’ lives and felt compelled to keep up with the image being portrayed digitally.
Personally, I’ve often been startled by the stark differences between what happens in real life compared to what we all portray to be “real” life. On more than one occasion, in-depth conversations I have with friends where we discuss their struggles are completely at odds with what they share socially, which gives no indication that life is anything but ideal. I’ve certainly been guilty of the same. We are all measuring ourselves against a false idol and finding ourselves wanting—how could we not?
Social Media has the power to make people feel accepted or rejected in :06 or less.
We have more “friends” than ever and yet in a survey executed by YouGov at 30 percent, Millennials were most likely to say they felt lonely “often” or “always.” While causation was not proven, YouGov data scientist, Jamie Ballard, concluded that Millennials, who use both social media and the internet more frequently than their elders, are also making themselves lonely in the process.
This is a daunting realization that has left me often wondering if I should walk away from the social media world as an individual—all while working in a career that demands its use and navigating the fear of missing out socially by removing myself.
What gives me hope is to see the onset of the trend of debunking the idealistic states portrayed on our platforms.
More and more people are leveraging social media to expose their use of filters and to raise awareness of what happens off camera—not only in the efforts to create the idealistic image, but also to discuss the countless images that we don’t post, like moments of sadness, anxiety, and the occasional loneliness felt by all of us regardless of influencer status.
For example, a new TikTok trend featuring women rolling down their high-waisted jeans to dance with their bellies out to normalize stomach fat amassed 60M views. It’s not to say that these individuals didn’t meet their share of trolls so we have a ways to go, but it is encouraging to see Gen Z, in particular, leveraging new platforms to shatter the illusion my generation created.
The digital age has all of us demanding transparency and instant action but now we’re craving something more—authenticity.
At Amelie, while we don’t always function in the same picture-perfect world often created for CPG or retail brands we must still rise to the call for authenticity on behalf of our clients. The weight of the topics we navigate, like addiction and mental health, certainly demands it.
The task at hand for brands and marketers will be to leverage social platforms in a way that doesn’t contribute to unattainable aspirations, while still being an aspirational entity and creating a community to accomplish their business goals. As marketers, our challenge is to be better because we now know the consequences of the digital worlds we create and have the power to do something about it.
Laura Underwood, Director of Growth & Marketing