There are few people who are still not on social media in 2020—maybe even those who’ve previously abstained joined up during lockdown, given the limited avenues we all had for some escapism.
To be a Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or Twitter user, you must be 13 years old. Given, however, that these platforms (particularly Snapchat and TikTok) are aimed at younger people, it’s likely that there are individuals younger than 13 with a profile—no checks are made when signing up that the date of birth entered is actually valid.
Maybe all these social media platforms are aware of this, but because of the ‘pester power’ of children, they are happy to turn a blind eye in return for healthy advertising returns. I certainly can’t believe that they don’t know at all.
A recent update from Instagram, perhaps to try and combat this situation, is to offer users the opportunity to make their post/content age-restricted. If there is content in your post that’s not suitable for children, you will have the option when creating your post to signify the minimum age limit of its audience. Instagram will then only show users above this age the content in question.
The thing is, if a 10-year-old says they’re 20 when creating their profile, this doesn’t stop them from seeing a post rated 18+. This could only truly work if youngsters were honest about their age from the off.
Certain posts were already age-restricted on Instagram; content promoting alcohol, non-prescription drugs, and financial advice is only shown to profiles purportedly belonging to adults.
For businesses, the benefit of this update is that it acts as an extra filter. Some products can be age-specific and eliminating the portion of the public who won’t be interested in what you sell helps with targeting. It’s a benefit that comes at no cost, which is always positive.
On a different note, and not so much an update in programming, but an update in usage. Facebook has reported that the number of people using its groups during the pandemic grew exponentially.
Perhaps given that we were all restricted from interacting with friends and family offline during lockdown, digital communications came into its own. Though it’s recognised as a poor replacement to seeing people in person, it proved a lifesaver for families when they were cut off from each other.
Maybe we had more time during lockdown to explore the groups on offer. Maybe local groups were the source of vital information during the pandemic, which caused more people to join. Maybe we were more interested in hearing what the general public had to say about coronavirus or local restrictions than just what came from the mouth of politicians and scientists.
Societies and clubs who would usually meet offline were forced to go digital, to continue their hobby or pastime in some form; this also contributed to increased activity within Facebook groups.
Facebook has changed how it describes its online groups; rather than separate clusters of people, the platform sees groups as ‘digital communities’.
Facebook’s own stats show that an incredible 91% of users surveyed gave some sort of support to others during lockdown via a group. We’re no longer a generation that leans over garden walls to pass on the local news to a neighbor. Neither are we a generation who gets local information from a newspaper or magazine. Increasingly, news and information today come from a digital source, of which online groups is one.
Groups are useful, in that they’re largely monitored. Upon creation, admins and/or moderators are assigned and there is the option that every post has to be approved before the group is allowed to see it. This reduces trolling and controls spam, two things that put people off from interacting in online groups.
A new Facebook feature is the introduction of sponsored posts specifically for the eyes of online groups; this is great for businesses and advertisers, as groups forming around a hobby, for example, are sitting ducks if you have a product related to that hobby.
Any new update takes time for people to understand it and react. Be one of the first to capitalise on the increased activity within groups and snap up the opportunity to advertise to them.
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