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Bots and Buds: Remaining Authentic Online

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At SMWLDN, ideas company Poke gave a guide on how to navigate the internet wisely.

No one likes a fake friend, or worse: fake news. In an online world of uncertainty and second-guessing sources, it can be almost too easy to retreat to the warm embrace of your comfort zone. Comfort zones prevent change. Social media amplifies social change, but it isn’t the root cause. There remains a lot of work to be done, but how?

When we’re creating networks that reflect the state of our own lives, how can we branch out to places that are unfamiliar, be more civically engaged, generate solidarity ALL whilst staying true to our own identity and staying safe?

When Bogdana Butnar, Head of Strategy at Poke, Jimmy Tidey and Alex Hogan took the stage at Social Media Week London 2018, they explained how they’d achieve this.

Give social media a makeover

Butnar asked us to imagine what social media would look like if we started it from scratch today. Would we still have the same platforms, features, and tools? On a separate note: would we be able to share dogs (doggos) the way we do? The team at Poke noted how social media’s breaking down democracy and interfering with relationships, self-esteem, and society, so asked: is there a way in which a redesign can address these problems?

Subtract the adds

They concluded that getting rid of ads was the foundation layer to this media makeover: the base coat. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have the tendency to drive unmeaningful interactions because of them.

DO more DO and LESS SAY

When it comes to friends, the amount we have online aren’t necessarily reflective of that in real life. Butnar made an insightful point on how we can’t make friends by solely consuming stuff. We need to partake in activities and conversation; movements. If you want an authentic and real brand then the key is interact: less talk more action isn’t just a useful phrase to get kids to shut up. It works when it comes to branding too.

Spend it well

Time, that is. Not money. “Social media has more power when it gives people the ability to decide what they want to do,” explained Alex Hogan. He encouraged sharing real-life stories and goes on to advise how to spot a bot, “there’s something fundamentally wrong when a bot tries to recruit you.” Hogan’s right. There’s something that feels forced about an automated message, whether it’s with a political stance or not, and it’s important to use intuition.

It’s clear we’re engaged in an evolving capitalised truth with an abundance of tools and information at our fingertips, yet one theme and way to navigate them remains the same: be authentic. When you next find yourself questioning motives, it helps to feel confident and comfortable with your own. Authenticity reassures personal ideas and solidifies truths. It’s exactly what we need right now.

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