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#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon

#JeSuisCharlie and the Twitter bandwagon

Last week’s attacks in Paris were sickening, of that there is no doubt. The fallout, many innocent people are dead, world leaders are doing their best to be seen to support their French allies and millions of tweets are being sent bearing #JeSuisCharlie.

This isn’t a blog looking at the wider repercussions of the attacks, that’s something far too large to do here, or in any single blog – to look at the rising anti-Muslim agenda, scaremongering and media misreporting, but what can be assessed is the role social media plays in these instances.

Since last week’s attacks, I’d be keen to bet that #JeSuisCharlie has trended consistently. A hashtag which aims to show solidarity towards the victims, defiance against terror and a pro-free speech outlook – big objectives for a mere 13 characters.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

Millions show their defiance against the Paris attacks.

The main reason social media, particularly Twitter, is able to spread this feeling of support and defiance is that, simply put, it’s quick and easy to do so – a great advantage. Yet this ‘click and forget’, ‘like and leave’ mentality is its own worst enemy. Take the previous example of #BringBackOurGirls, a hashtag supported by the likes of Michelle Obama to raise awareness around the Boko Haram kidnapping of 300 girls in Nigeria. Remember that? Outraged at the time? Perhaps you even shared the hashtag. But what then?

Social media, of which I like most people am a big fan, makes news quicker, more interactive, and affords people the opportunity to share their opinion. But when it’s just as easy to back worldwide disgust at a terrorist incident as it is to show your enjoyment of a picture of a cat dressed as a lion, in many ways it cheapens the message.

The nature of social media, particularly Twitter, is transient and perhaps the wider question is can a campaign be sustained through this channel and if so, how?

Yes, being able to say X million people worldwide have backed #JeSuisCharlie is powerful in itself, it is a message that society won’t be defeated, but surely a much more powerful measure of impact, of our resistance, is to ask people a month down the line who still really cares? This may sound blunt, but the news agenda moves quicker than ever before and most stories are forgotten.

The Paris attacks perhaps are (and should be) too large to fall into this category, but only time will tell.

Music streaming: Are songs becoming too accessible?

The Official Charts Company announced earlier today that songs played on streaming services such as Spotify will be counted as part of the Official Singles Chart from the beginning of next month. This decision marks the first time that chart positions could be affected without fans paying for the most popular songs.

The move comes in light of the continued popularity and growth of music streaming where an average of 260 million songs are currently streamed per week. The Official Charts Company boss Martin Talbot justified the decision by stating that the changes are about “future proofing the charts.”

“So far this year we’ve seen nine tracks which have been streamed more than one million times in a week,” Talbot explained. “Last year there were only two tracks that had reached that kind of level.”

Music sharing sites have recently been criticised by artists.

However, in order to ensure that users are unable to hugely influence the chart by streaming one song constantly throughout the week, 100 streams will be the equivalent of one single purchase or download and only ten plays will count per user, per day.

The move clearly reflects the new ways in which people are digesting and listening to music in this day and age where access to content is so freely available. However, it remains to be seen if the artists will be fairly remunerated for their content on streaming sites, and how this decision will affect the direction of the music industry as a whole.

While up and coming artists may potentially see an increase in their chart positions as users of streaming sites can easily experiment with new sounds risk-free, the decision to count streaming data could be controversial amongst established artists who have accused Spotify and other streaming services of exploiting their music and paying them tiny royalties in return.

Writing in the Guardian last year, David Byrne, former lead singer of Talking Heads, said the amount paid to artists per stream was “minuscule… if artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from these services, they’ll be out of work within a year.”

It’s clear that if the new generation of fans were to begin solely using music streaming sites the music industry would need to have a serious rethink about the platforms on which songs are available. Therefore, music bosses need to hope that the inclusion of streaming data will add variety to the charts rather than favour ease of access listening over buying songs, which could heavily impact the royalties that artists receive for their talent.

Dan Bilzerian: King of Instagram #NoFilter

The PHA Group’s Ben Cossor discusses the Instagram Playboy Dan Bilzerian and how his approach could influence your social media strategy.

Those of us who like to think the intricate details of our lives (meals, pets, torsos) are interesting enough to put a filter on and share with the world are already very familiar with Instagram.

But while the majority of users abide by the line at which appropriate, generic sharing becomes incongruous and risqué, one man has redefined how to use the social channel, prompting us to think twice about uploading a black and white photo of our next Nandos. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a suitcase of dollar notes or a Project X-style pool party, and therefore it’s not interesting.

Known by his followers as the “Instagram Playboy”, Dan Bilzerian has taken the concept of social media sharing to a new level; unafraid to make public his life of excess and daily exotic escapades.

Dan Bilzerian has become famous for flaunting his playboy life on Instagram

Dan Bilzerian has become famous for flaunting his playboy life on Instagram

When it comes to earning yourself a worldwide reputation for doing little more than living life, the self-confessed gambler, actor and astronaut (apparently) is a prime example. He has found his niche in the lucrative ecosphere of poker, which inevitably means he has his adversaries as well as fans (2 million followers on Instagram).

But while many -myself included when I first discovered his Instagram page- are cynical about his sense of self-entitlement as a result of a wealthy upbringing, maybe we just have to admit that he is one of life’s winners who has earned his lavish lifestyle through an unorthodox example of meritocracy.

Sitting at home playing private games of poker is not everyone’s idea of a raucous Sunday afternoon, but when you add girls, goats, money, champagne, private jets and more money to the equation, suddenly the whole world wants to be a part of it. Of course, this means that Bilzerian is subject to a plethora of messages from fans seeking his recognition: “I WANT YOUR LIFE!!!” is a personal favourite.

Like him or not, approve or disapprove, without the Instagram Playboy the poker world would be a much darker place.

His penchant for posting photos of his scantily clad acquaintances resulted in a social media fail recently in the form of a video I’m sure you have all heard about. Surely a life such as this is just a disaster waiting to happen? Even so, anything he does is likely to up his social media followers significantly. Swings and roundabouts.

Delving into the world of Dan Bilzerian has prompted me to reconsider how we use Instagram and other social media channels. How far are we willing to go to get that one more follower? Somehow, I don’t think a selfie with your cat will make the difference. It seems that uniqueness is key, but we all need to become poker experts and astronauts first.

There is talk of Bilzerian relinquishing his crown as the king of Instagram in the near future. Winning over $10 million in one day and losing half of it the next evening, five days a week, seems to be taking its toll, and he is finally looking to settle down at the age of 32.

Someone now needs to replace Bilzerian and assume the role of the Instagram Playboy. Any takers?

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