Andrew Trotman

Member Article

Andrew Trotman – MD of It’s Gone Viral – on how and why during the Covid-19 crisis is social media is now more important than ever.

The world is facing a monumental challenge that none of would have conceived possible just a few short weeks ago. Times are scary and uncertain but one of the positives to come out of this so far has been peoples’ abilities and willingness to come together and help each other. We’re always told that we live busy, selfish and fragmented lives but the way individuals and businesses have stepped up to help their communities has been nothing short fantastic.

Social media has played a massive part in that. We’ve seen it before in other dire situations but its ability to keep us all connected can’t, and shouldn’t be, underestimated. The lockdown has created a new time of forced isolation and the possibility of that becoming a strain on our mental health is real. Our options to interact, mix and socialise have been taken away. No-one would argue with the reasoning but that doesn’t stop it having a monumental impact. Having the ability to go online and see first-hand that you’re not alone and not in your own bubble of struggle is huge. It’s been inspirational to see the world connecting, sharing positive stories, tips and ways to get through this. That’s when social media comes into its own; when it truly connects, motivates and enhances our lives. It should be a force for good.

However, on the flip side, it’s essential that we are all careful about how we use platforms during the Coronavirus crisis; especially when it comes to information overload. The sheer amount of information out there, including ‘fake news; is now greater than ever. This quite naturally leads to overthinking and different forms of anxiety. It’s not helped by the fact that we’re only allowed to leave the house once a day for exercise. Our perspectives and realities are completely out of synch.

Publishers now more than ever have a huge responsibility to provide accurate information and stories to their followers. I’ve been thoroughly disheartened to see stories that are clearly designed to scaremonger, to get clicks and to ultimately drive profits. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen but it’s tough for people to know who they can trust. With a fast and ever-changing situation like this, it’s important that everyone does their bit to put well-being and a healthy state of mind above revenues. It’s about ethics, not profits.

On a practical level, publishers and platforms should only be sharing verified and truthful stories or video content. They need to be fact checking everything, only reporting news that they think can be helpful and positive and not focussing on negative click bait. They must also make information easy for people to access and digest such as creating infographics that collate official updates from the government.

In a time where we need to band together as one, initiatives like Instagram’s Stay At Home story feature, which encourages users to share their videos of them following government guidelines, and Facebook’s Information Centre can directly encourage social behaviours that will ultimately save lives.

I also passionately believe that it’s important publishers bring some kind of respite to their followers. Sharing a story or moment that is inspirational and motivating can add so much value to someone’s day. The British public’s ability to laugh and maintain its of humour as a coping mechanism - even in dark times - should never be underestimated. Now more than ever people still want to see things that brighten their day and lift their mood. The surge in live stream exercise sessions like HIIT, pump, yoga, meditation - and obviously Joe Wicks’ insanely popular PE classes - has also been a game changer. They’re all about positivity and are designed to help.

It’s easy to get hung up about the negatives that can be associated with social media, but I feel that during this time of isolation people need to see the benefits of how to engage with it in a healthy manner – especially if we see someone struggling or being unusually distant as small gestures can go a very long way. We’re all in this together, after all.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by It's Gone Viral .

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