MarketingShoppingSocial Media

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Instagram has become a way for brands to personalize themselves before their customers. This is thanks to micro-influencers.

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Micro-influencers have become a powerful presence on the platform.

What are they?

A micro-influencer is someone who brands to their audience based on their own personal likes and interests. This strategy works well because these influencers are branding honestly. They aren’t always paid for what they do and still they are able to convince their followers that their favourite product needs to be yours too.

The audience of a micro-influencer may be small. But they achieve something celebrities and giant brands can’t: They create relationships. They also have much higher rates of consumer involvement opposed to celebrities.

cactus

A celebrity can have everything anyone could want materially. Tons of money, the perfect bod, being paid to attend events or workout. (We would all be in-shape if that was the reality for the rest of us, am I right?) You follow these famous people on social media, love and support them. But the lifestyle these people live is not a reality for most of us. The fraction of celebrities in the world is less than 1%. So when they tell us we need a certain product, it’s hard to take them seriously.

1. Because they were paid to sell the product — not genuine.

2. Maybe they do love the product but it still didn’t cost them anything to use the product.

3. They have everything you want anyways, what’s one more cool product they have that you don’t?

This is why the micro-influencers are so successful. They aren’t millionaires, they are real and they choose who they brand for.

The pictures they post are taken by them opposed to sponsored ads. They don’t have to brand for products they don’t like, meaning their reviews are genuine. They can use their account to be real with their audiences and create relationships.

succulents
Succulents, because Instagram loves succulents.

From experience I know that it is very possible to become attached to an Instagram account.

I follow a girl on Instagram she is an artist who is still in art school and she takes pictures of mostly her art. In some cases she will advertise for her pieces. Otherwise she is just a student with amazing fashion sense who posts cute pictures with positive captions. I love it. She could convince me to buy products, no doubt. And she isn’t even a legitimate influencer!

(She is influencing me though . . . maybe she’s just that good, I don’t even know she’s an influencer! 😅)

How do they do it?

They have charisma.

Just like writing a book or script for a TV show, the characters need a distinct personality. What is the character’s family like? What is her obsession? What is his weakness? How do they present themselves at work opposed to in front of their friends? What is their favourite food.

The answer to these questions are found not because the TV show literally says what their favourite food is. Instead you learn by watching the character get excited to eat when they find out there is going to be waffles and strawberries. You learn that they had a spoiled childhood because of the way their parents disapprove of their current lifestyle. Etc.

young people excited about something in natureThe same goes for micro-influencers. They are characters. They either have to come up with who their character is, or exaggerate their real personalities. This way people can grow attached to the perfectly molded character.

People don’t want another brand being thrown at them based on their likes and shares on the platform. They want to know what they need because their favourite influencer can’t remember what it was like to do their morning routine before this amazing product.

Not only do consumers get to hear from likeable people what products they recommend. But the good micro-influencers share the experience. They can give the why, who and how these products have worked for them. Not only are they characters, but storytellers themselves.

young woman on rocky trail in mountains

Micro-influencers have the ability to make their audience feel sorry for them when they have a hard day and rejoice when the micro-influencers can tell their faithful followers good news.

I mean, influence is in their title.

Maybe your small business could use a micro-influencer or you could be that person for your company!

If you see the value in your business having a micro-influencer but you find that you lack the creativity or time needed for such a job, you can find someone to be the influencer for you. Check out this blog for info:

Being a micro-influencer sounds rather glamorous. I love the idea of a job consisting of posting on Instagram, sharing my likes and interests, having a valid opinion, taking beautiful pictures, influencing people and being paid to do it!

branch with leaves in vase

As lovely as that all sounds, I know that it would all take a lot of work. To critique your compelling voice, to make sure you state your opinion strongly without offending others. The dedication and effort would take hours upon hours and money, at least for the beginning.

Who knows, maybe you are up for the task.

Tess Houcher

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HolidaysMobile AppsSelf-ImprovementSocial Media

No I didn’t go anywhere. But I was away. I deleted my social media apps from my phone for a week. Therefore, I was away.

If you want to know why I left for a week, check out my previous blog here.

During my time off from Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (which I deleted from my phone two days into my week off of these other two apps.) I noticed a few things that I would love to highlight for you.

First off, it is challenging for the first 3ish days. The rest of the week wasn’t that bad. (So you could do it too!)

Yes, people did end up saying “Good for you.” After that first response there were a few different comments to follow. Some told me that they may try a week off from social media as well. Another person made sure I knew that just because I was doing it, that didn’t mean they were going to take a break too. Then there was just the eyebrow raise.

One unpleasant drawback was during down time in a group setting everyone ended up on their phones. In my attempt to bring my friends attention back to the world around them and not the ones on their screens is when I got those last two responses. This part of the social media cleanse was extra difficult. It also was a major eye opener to the norms of my life and of my peers.

It’s easier to go with the flow.

Another thing I learned about myself during this week is that I definitely had been prioritizing social media. Before I couldn’t tell if social media was really taking up that much time in my life. I realize now that it was, and that I now have time! Time that I no longer want to spend scrolling endlessly to fill empty time space.

During the week I was definitely hit with the cravings. I wanted to take a video on snapchat of my friends being stupid, I wanted to post the beautiful sunset over a lake on Instagram (with an inspirational quote of course) and I wanted to share the videos from my last concert on Facebook as I had said I would in a previous post.

If you didn’t post it, did it even happen?

These cravings made me realize how obscure my thought process had become in my years of social media and I am quite young! Why did I care to post all of these things? The people I love and care about and vice versa would find out about the truly important moments in my life. So why would I care about the likes on a post that is barely significant to even me?

It’s called FOMO- Fear of Missing Out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening where you are not, often stimulated by social media. I see FOMO as a mindset that believes the grass is greener on the other side- the inability to be satisfied.

We are always teaching people to not care about what others have to say about you and your life, so why have we trained our brains to crave online feedback in an unhealthy way? A little contradictory don’t you think?

I would once again like to mention that I still think social media can be a great thing. Communicating with loved ones, friends near and far and enjoying the features available on the social media apps are all great.

But, too much of a good thing is where we get in trouble, just like most aspects in our day to day lives. There needs to be a balance. Post that picture, share the funny dog video, like and comment all that you want to. Just don’t become dependant on these apps.

It’s like food. Go ahead, eat the cake, taste the cookie dough, and share a big bag of chips with your friends (… or don’t share. ;))

BUT, you and I should not need the cake, cookie dough or chips. There is a difference between treating yourself and becoming dependent on the things you do not need.


Social media is the way of the world, there is no denying that, but if you agree that the addiction of social media is a little too mainstream for your liking, maybe try working on your balanced social media diet like I did.

Now this is the hard part, I want to continue to not need social media but I do still want to keep my social media accounts active. I plan to leave the apps deleted from my phone. But I am going to allow myself to get the apps back when I want to post something. When I do this, I will also go through my feeds and probably creep a few friends then delete the apps once again.

This setup won’t last me forever, it is just a way to reteach my brain how to think. How to not need my news feeds whenever I am bored or in an awkward situation. I am still not sure if this applies to Snapchat too. (To better understand my thoughts on Snapchat, my previous blog can be found here.) But I guess I will see how my thoughts are directed and decide if I need to treat Snapchat the same as the other two apps or not.

Well there you have it, if you have read this whole blog post then whether you like it or not, you now have an idea on what it is like to not be consumed by social media. What are you going to do about it? The choice is completely yours.

Let me know if you have tried a break from social media or just your thoughts on this topic in general. I hope to hear from you soon!

Tess Houcher 

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Mobile AppsProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial Media

If you and I were having a conversation and I said “I deleted Instagram and Facebook.” I think it is safe to say that you would respond by saying something along the lines of a “Good for you.” We all seem to understand that really, we could do better without the pressures and time consumption that comes with social media. But then why do we struggle so much to give it up? Or have we given up on trying to give up.

As a society, we have been diagnosed with an addiction of social media. We know we don’t need it, we are aware of all the time it consumes, we can imagine the peace that comes with a lack of the worldwide connection.

So why haven’t we quit yet?

First off, social media is really good at branding itself. It is a business and we are its loyal customers. They will convince us that to be connected and have a good quality of life we need social media. This is not at all truth, but it seems to be the reality for many.

Not only is social media good at convincing us we need it, we end up convincing each other that we need social media without even saying it out loud. There is an underlying pressure to keep your profile up to date and to like the posts and updates of your many friends.

Side note: My Nana actually does tell me to keep my otherwise useless Facebook profile up to date so she can know about my life… so I guess in some cases, I am literally told to post more on Facebook.

And once again, we seem to be addicted. These factors create a situation which has found to be quite difficult to escape.


Spring Break of 2016 I went to Mexico with a group of high school students and a couple adult leaders. The main reason for the trip was to help the people there. We went to a couple children centres, did maintenance and rebuilding at a couple different locations. We were there for a week and had no way to contact our families back home or use social media the entire time.

The trip was obviously amazing but the part that I will highlight now is my lack of connection with the whole wide world for that week. As stereotypical as it sounds, I felt free and at peace. I had no way to connect with anyone who was not next to me.

I loved how we never went on our phones to avoid awkward conversations, we were always present. The fact that there was no way to use our phones made it so we didn’t miss them. We were able to forget. It did help that we were in a mindset of helping others, being selfless and in a different part of the world.

It was very weird to cross the border, stop at a coffee shop and see all of the notifications I had received over the past week. Instantly we were reminded of what our reality feels like. As great as it felt to see all the texts from my loved ones, I was slightly repulsed at my instant urge to be connected again.

After spending a week with people who never feel obligated to post their thoughts, opinions, likes and tags, it was very odd to be back in a culture that does. I became aware of my selfishness. And what did I do about these feelings? I posted all about my trip on Facebook and Instagram awaiting the likes and comments.


It’s been over a year and a half since that trip and today I finally decided to give Instagram and Facebook a break again. Now how did I make this decision when I am so good at ignoring the issues that come with social media for me? 

I had a great talk with a friend last night. She told me it has been about a year since she has been on Facebook and about five months since she has used Instagram. With her decision to take this break she told me that she has more time. Not meaning she is always spending her time on productive items, but she does have more time.

She feels that she is now more connected to the people who really are apart of her life and she can invest more time into those people. She also appreciates that the urge to constantly be connected, to post, like and comment is gone.

I don’t think she has sworn off social media forever but for the time she is without it, she is definitely not missing it.

So, this morning I woke up and without over thinking anything, I deleted Instagram and Facebook….

iphone at sunsetI really don’t know how long I will last as my excuse to keep social media has always been that I love posting! I will start with a week without these two social media apps and then I will see how I am doing after that. I know I will get the apps again as I love to share posts when I am traveling and I don’t plan to stop myself from doing that.

This blog is not here to paint everyone with the same brush in saying that everyone is addicted to social media. I know many people who have these social apps but they are not at all addicted. I do however hope you are aware of the power of your self will. That you know that there is a life full of purpose and connections without social media. If you do take a break, you won’t regret it.

Tess Houcher

 

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MarketingMobile AppsSocial Media

Snapchat was a one of a kind app which was created to be nothing like Facebook. People complain that the two apps are nothing alike and yet that was the point, and I will show you how the two differ. I use both apps and personally like that they are completely different.

Facebook was created to connect people. It connects you with your best friend from eighth grade who you haven’t talked to in years, your travelling aunt who is currently in Rome and your best friend you see every weekend. Facebook was created so that you and your friends could still be informed and active in each others lives without actually needing to have a personal conversation with them.

Facebook is a place to document the best moments in life, and a place to find support in the worst. Facebook has morphed into a place to play online games with your friends, a place to keep up with your favourite brands, celebrities, news sources and entertaining videos. Facebook is full of advertisements but it is “free and always will be!”

Snapchat is created for intimacy. Snapchat does not make it easy to find people and it does not make it easy for other people to find you. The posts you make on Snapchat are temporary, meaning people feel free to be their imperfect selves instead of painting a picture of what they want people to see. These factors make most users choose their friends carefully depending on their comfort level.

Snapchat was created around smartphones and their cameras, for documenting the events you experience in the moment. These moments can be shared to make others laugh, to show off you and your friends enjoying a night out, to share a selfie featuring a filter that can expresses your emotion, to add to a public story and be apart of the bigger picture. The uses for Snapchat stories are endless.

People love them because the people who can view your carefully constructed stories are specially chosen by you! Even though you love Grandma, she won’t be able to comment on your story and explain her concern over you being out so late in the middle of the work week for all of your friends to see.

Another ability of the latest updates on snapchat are that you can share your location or view the locations of your friends. This is if you have allowed the feature on your phone, re-establishing that snapchat lets you call the shots.

This is quite different from Facebook, where you were forced to download Facebook Messenger and are constantly notified to update information on yourself for your profile until they know everything about you.

What’s with the pushy attitude Facebook? Of course, to this question they would answer by explaining that in order to market best to you as an individual and to make sure that you are as connected as possible, they need to have all the information about you that you are willing to give.

But no one ever said they wanted to scroll through advertisements before getting to look at their new baby cousin’s photos. On Snapchat, I am advertised to when looking at the channels or between the stories of my friends. These ads I can choose to watch or tap to skip. Meaning I chose when I look at content other than stories.

SnapChat Logo

Another perk to Snapchat, is that the app is trendy. Snapchat is always updating, adding new filters and features and has a direct connection to the most popular magazines. This is not a quality of Facebook. Facebook is known for its use and influence of the older generations. Thus steering young people away from the social media platform.

Some people I know, myself included, don’t bother posting much of anything on Facebook because with too many Facebook friends, we don’t feel like we can post anything real about ourselves. Everything that is on Facebook is simply the image we want people to see of ourselves.


Obviously this article has expressed my favour for Snapchat. But I do still appreciate Facebook. I like that I can reach many people at once with a post. I love the usefulness of buy and sell pages, and my friends group chats. I don’t even mind some of the advertisements as they have been selected for me based on my likes, shares and other information they pick up.

I believe that Snapchat and Facebook have two very different uses and that if one app works for you while the other doesn’t, use the one. Use both of them like I do if you enjoy having two different audiences for your posts. And to my friends who disregard social media completely, enjoy your peace and quiet for me. 🙂

Tess Houcher

Interesting side note:

Before I had finished my article I went onto my snapchat to look at the BuzzFeed channel and all of its stories for the day and I was very intrigued by the voting poll of the day. For those of you who don’t know, Snapchat’s channels will often have quick polls. They usually ask questions that would help them figure out how to entertain their viewers better. For example: Which dessert is the most satisfying to watch being made? Then we are given a few choices and can click on one. I usually vote for these polls for two reasons. One, because I like to let the channels know what I am interested in so they can entertain me better. And two, they show you the current results of the poll after you vote and I find it very interesting to see what the rest of the world thinks. Anyways, the other day Snapchat had a poll asking if you use Snapchat or Instagram filters. I found the results quite interesting…

But is it real…?

Let me know your thoughts on Snapchat, Facebook and this poll in the comments! 

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