[SECTION A, 9:40] 6 Ways That Social Media Is Changing The Spread Of Trends

By: Joe Mikalauskas, Cici Montalvo, Emily Whitty, Jamie Handley, Maya Lamprinakos, Sam Hoey

How do social media trends get started in the first place?

Social media trends tend to be initiated by everyday users rather than traditional mass-media outlets. Zhang et al., 2016 found an initial peak of trend popularity fueled by “crowd” users, followed by a subsequent reappearance of the trend after it has been picked up by one of the traditional media sources. While these larger media outlets are largely responsible for the persistence of these trends, their origins are actually with everyday people! But what makes some trends more likely to be spread than others? One study addressed this question, and found that the emotions elicited by the trending topic are essential to their “spreadability.” Trends that elicit more high arousal emotions, like fear, anxiety, and amusement are more likely to be shared than ones that elicit low-arousal emotions, like sadness and contentment. This means that the more excited the trending topic makes the reader, the more likely that reader is to show the article to their friends, and their friends, etc.

Influencers get you to buy things!

The micro-celebrities of the internet, known as Influencers, have a lot more control than you think over what products you buy. According to a study completed in India, women were extremely likely to buy a product if they have seen it consistently advertised across platforms, especially if it was posted by an Influencer (Sudha M. & Sheena K., 2017). Social media plays such a large role in our everyday lives, which causes the possibility of buying a product due to social media advertising to increase. A similar study looked at how even outfit of the day posts (OOTD) put up by non-Influencers on Instagram can also increase purchases (Abidin, 2016). With fashion brands and outfits, specifically, women tend to be more affected by these trends and show an increase in clothing purchases related to the amount of fashion content they see on their social media feeds. OOTD posts also brought attention back to the original Influencers that made the posts, which creates a circle back to people buying products based off of their advertising!

How do social media trends affect advertising?

Over the years, technology has taken society to a new level. Social media has flourished at an extreme rate since the start. This includes advertising. Advertising has declined since social media has taken over the world. Every advertisement can be accessed from a mobile device today. How has this affected advertising companies? Producers of advertising are no longer in control of their products. Social media has now put the consumer in charge. From services such as online shopping, or Kroger click-list, consumers no longer have a need for cut out coupons, or flyers. Everything is accessible from a digital device, with a click of a few buttons. Offline advertising is no longer relevant in this technological world. The rate of success for offline advertisements has declined. Technology has single-handedly changed the world of advertising from a physical standpoint to an interactive standpoint. With the easy accessibility and consumer control, advertising is better today, because social media has flourished so much, changing the way the consumer can access their needs.

Social media trends have an influence on younger generations.

If you were to walk into a high school and observe students on their phones, how many do you think would be on some sort of social media platform? A study was done on adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 in Ontario, Canada. It was found that 80% of these kids use their phones and social media daily. Around 50% of them are online for more than 2 hours every day. Students who reported spending more time on social media rated their mental health as poor or fair and having a low self-esteem. Because teenagers’ minds and personalities are still developing, their curiosity and their ability to be influenced is at its peak. Social media affects trends because it is a faster way to increase the likelihood of more people seeing it and it becoming viral. Teenagers are easily persuaded by social media trends and conforming to the crowd for the need of fitting in. Surprisingly, social media trends have a huge effect on the mental health of teenagers and the necessity to hop on the latest trends to be considered “cool” in the eyes of their peers.

Social Media prays on the short attention spans of consumers.

Social Media prays on the short attention spans of consumers and this trend has been copied in all types of media. This trend was first noticed in the TV show Sesame Street (Newman, 2010). Creators of the show used these techniques to keep their younger audience engaged. Later, multiple social media networks [picked up on these techniques and ideas and implemented them into their technology. A great example currently is TikTok. TikTok is a social media platform where users can post short videos that are restricted to under a minute long. TikTok has done this purposely to keep their audience engaged. Users are exposed to constant new stimulation since each video is very short. Another technique that the social media platform uses is that on their main page they do not display the time on the top of the page. This allows the user to lose track of time while scrolling through posts. Titter uses similar techniques by limiting posts to 140 characters (Yan, 2011). These trends and techniques can be seen across almost all social media platforms and media outlets in general. 

Different movements and communities trend through social media. 

MeToo Movement

There are many trends that take place through social media and many trends that become popular to the world normally happen because it’s important and impactful. The Me Too Movement was, and still continues to be, a very impactful trend that took off through social media and having people share their story and making their voice heard. Twitter was one platform that covered this movement which started with #metoo trending which slowly began to grow bigger through social engagement (Manikonda, L., Beigi, G., Liu, H., & Kambhampati, S. 2018). The Me Too Movement took off because of the attention it was receiving on Twitter through the hashtag and because people were allowed to share their voice and relate back to others. Because of #metoo, this allowed for trends to become bigger and it gave more people an outlet to share their story. 

LGBTQ Community

The LGBTQ community has been expanding over the years and part of this is because of social media and people being able to share their voice. Even though there are people online who have not been supportive, this community has made great changes in history and it would not have been the same if social media was nonexistent. Specifically, transgenders have paved a strong path for their community on social media. 94% of 18-29 year-olds who are transgender are on social media and have found to be strong advicators for themselves and their community (McInroy, L., & Craig, S. 2015). Because of social media communities, like the LGBTQ, are able to have a stable community while also sharing how they feel through social media. This connects back to trends on social media because the LGBTQ comminuty is able to express new trends within their community and share it with the world.