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Moms never forget. At least, Dan Levy's mom hasn't. She tweeted a special message to his childhood bullies as her son prepared to host the historic show: "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" Levy's response: "Mom's. ❤️" 

Here are today's top stories:
  • The good, the bad and the ugly of the social media fame monster
  • Instagram introduces a Recently Deleted folder (+ more updates)
  • Why you should hold onto your branded account handles, and how
  • And Big Bird breaks Twitter (in the nicest way possible)
Read on ⬇️

P.S. Next week's newsletter will drop on Tuesday instead of Monday, as this Social Platypus enjoys the Family Day weekend. I hope you have a great long weekend as well!
Look ahead content calendar for Feb. 8, 2021

 The Fame Monster 

It's been about a week since the new HBO documentary Fake Famous started streaming, and it's already receiving some scathing reviews. BuzzFeed News and TIME take director and tech journalist Nick Bilton to task, saying he doesn't understand influencer culture at all, and instead just mocks content creators. Here's my take on the good, the bad and the ugly of the influencer lifestyle, and the big opportunity for brands.
 20-second summary 
In the documentary, the director chooses three people with relatively small followings on Instagram and tries to turn them into influencers by buying followers (aka, bots), fake engagement, and setting up photo shoots to create aspirational content. And often those photo shoots are created through "fake" scenes — such as using a toilet seat to mimic an airplane window (it's honestly hard to tell they are gazing into the open hole of the seat). The three influencers each take a different path throughout the film, and I won't spoil it for you. But what I learned is enough to make me feel at least a little bit conflicted about the influencer-as-a-career lifestyle.
 
 The good, the bad, and the ugly 
Positive influencers: I agree with the articles in BuzzFeed and TIME that the film doesn't really show the positives that can come from being an influencer. Think: Greta Thunberg, who uses her social media influence to put a spotlight on the dangers of climate change. Or the many musicians on TikTok who built followings based on their talents, and were able to use that influence to break into the industry (most recently, this Sea Shanty star). 

Faking it: But I also realize that some of what we see on social media is fake — particularly on Instagram, which was designed from the beginning to feature curated content to the world (aka, the perfect life). What I didn't realize is the extent to which Instagram fame could be bought. Apparently even celebrity influencers use bots to boost their numbers

It's a full-time job: Bots or not, being an influencer is hard work. We definitely see that in the documentary — between the many photo shoots to feed the content machine, and the hustle to find brands to represent. Many influencers and content creators post three or four times a day, and have to explain to their followers if they take even a few days off.

It's a precarious life. I've seen many videos of influencers sobbing because they said or did something wrong, hoping they won't lose followers, or worse, be kicked off the app. One of the influencers in the documentary struggles after being called out by a follower for using bots. The risk of being banned is real. (Media personality Perez Hilton was recently kicked off TikTok after criticizing the platform's top star, Charlie D'Amelio). 

Lack of ownership: This also highlights the fact that you don't own anything on a social media app — the platform does. It can decide what it does with your account, and can take it away at any time. The only social media platform where you might "own" followers is LinkedIn, because connecting outside the app is common. But on most social media platforms, your followers are only your followers for as long as the company says so.
 
 A big opportunity for brands 
"Everyone is not your customer." This quote by marketing expert Seth Godin I think sums up one of the best way to manage social media. Instead of trying to amass tons of followers, perhaps try to curate a group of followers who genuinely love what you do, and turn them into brand ambassadors.

And in the midst of all of this fakery, there is a great opportunity to be genuine. At the end of the documentary, one of the influencers starts to gain followers for being herself, and for posting genuine reactions to trying out a bidet toilet. You don't have to go as far as filming yourself on a toilet, but consider less scripted content, or posts that go behind-the-scenes. Ultimately, people connect with other people, and the more you can be yourself, the better (although, this is a lot easier said than done).
Managing social media is hard enough — staying up-to-date shouldn't be. Level up your social media knowledge in minutes a week. Sign up for our newsletter today!
 ICYMI 
 Instagram keeps the updates coming 
Instagram introduced Recently Deleted folder
There are a number of Instagram updates to tell you about. And is it just me, or does it feel like the app is constantly adjusting? Perhaps that's because Reels isn't taking off as quickly as Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri had hoped. But it's also honestly just how things are in social media. Here's what you need to know:
  • Instagram introduced a Recently Deleted folder. Content that is deleted will go into this new folder, and be available for up to 30 days. Just go to Settings > Account > Recently Deleted to either restore or permanently delete content.
  • The app is also reportedly looking to copy TikTok's vertical feed by creating Vertical Instagram Stories, according to TechCrunch. Currently, you can speed through content by swiping on the horizontal, and tapping to jump to new Stories.
  • Speaking of Stories, Instagram recently updated the design of Stories on the desktop. Now, if you click on a Story you'll see a carousel of videos and a preview of what comes next. 
  • But beware: Being able to share feed posts in Stories may disappear in the future. Instagram is reportedly testing the option to ban feed posts within Stories. (I guess we can forget about those "new post" stickers).
 Hold onto those handles 
Bell Media went on a bit of a firing spree last week, handing out pink slips to several employees. That includes on-air host Dan O'Toole of the TSN sports duo show SC with Jay and Dan. (TNS is keeping co-host Jay Onrait). After O'Toole was fired, the show's Twitter handle — @JayandDan — was changed to @JayOnSC. The old Twitter handle was abandoned, and according to a report in The Globe and Mail, picked up by a fan who posted tweets calling for O'Toole to be brought back. The account was eventually disabled by Twitter, but highlights the risk of just letting a branded handle go — anyone can snap it up. Here's what I suggest:
  • Create a new Twitter account with a temporary handle 
  • Then log into the main Twitter account and update the handle
  • As soon as that's done, log back into the new Twitter account and grab the old branded handle (Tip: In the bio, direct people to the main Twitter account)
 NEWS-LIKE 
🔴 Students Punished For 'Vulgar' Social Media Posts Are Fighting Back [NY Times]

🔴 Parler CEO is Fired After 'Constant Resistance' Inside the Conservative-Friendly Site [NPR]

🔴 Myanmar Orders Internet Providers to Block Twitter and Instagram In The Country [The Verge]

🔴 Snapchat Built a TikTok Competitor And It Already Has 100 Million Users [Forbes]

🔴 Facebook's Misleading Campaign Against Apple's Privacy Policy [Harvard Business Review]
 APP-LIKE 
Messaging app Telegram beat out TikTok as the top non-gaming app worldwide in January 2021, according to mobile app analytics firm SensorTower. Another messaging app, Signal, was also high on the list. This isn't surprising given that many flocked to Telegram and Signal after Facebook-owned WhatsApp faced a backlash over an upcoming privacy update. And don't be too sad for TikTok — it held onto the top spot for most of 2020.
top apps worldwide for January 2021 from SensorTower
 HAPPY-LIKE 
 Can you tell me how to get to this account? 
Big Bird broke Twitter on Friday, after tweeting pictures of his counterparts in other parts of the world (there are various versions of Sesame Street). Some of his bird cousins were cute, like Pino from The Netherlands. But when he got to Garibaldo from Brazil, Big Bird said: "He may look a little scary, but he's one of the nicest birds I know!" Twitter users were quick to react to the blue Brazilian puppet, suggesting he looked like he had lived an interesting life. And the fact that Big Bird had to acknowledge that he hits a bit different than the others was pretty hilarious. But without this exchange, I may have never found Big Bird's Twitter account. So to that crazy looking blue bird, obrigado. 😊
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