The Most Selfish Number on the Planet
1.1 – you’re going to want to remember that number.
What may now seem insignificant to you is about to become really significant. In fact, the number 1.1 may sweep you off of your feet. This number is an indictment upon my generation. The evidence of a trend that started several years ago that has blown the roof off of our culture… And, quite frankly, is something that probably isn’t going to lose any speed any time soon.
Around the world throughout the year 2013,
1.1 “selfies” were taken on Instagram. Every single second.
Let’s let that sink in for a moment. If 1.1 posts including the hashtag “#selfie” were uploaded to Instagram every single second, that means 4,000 were uploaded per hour, 95,700 were uploaded per day, and a whopping 34,924,648 were uploaded across the entirety of 2013. And this isn’t including Twitter or Facebook or other hashtags that included “selfie” in some other form or fashion.
Now I understand that a number like 34,924,648 is tough to comprehend, especially for someone like me who hasn’t seen 35 million of anything, so let’s put it into perspective. In the spirit of March Madness, take a basketball. A basketball has a diameter of 9 inches. If you took one basketball for every “#selfie” taken last year and laid them side-by-side, these basketballs would cover the square area of Washington, D.C. Seventy-three times.
So why does this matter? Are “selfies” merely the reflection of an individualistic, ego-driven society? Are “selfies” simply desperate cries for attention? For some, maybe; however, I would argue that the roots of this craze go much deeper than a simple ego-stroke. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the “selfie” craze speaks most truly with what draws us to social media in the first place.
My generation wants to be known. The great thing about social media is that it creates a level playing field (or it, at least, creates the illusion of one). Personally, that’s one of the things that initially intrigued me about Twitter. As opposed to Facebook (which came first), I could send a tweet that tagged a celebrity and have a slight chance of my voice being heard. I could interact with a big-name brand. These entities that were once high above me were now brought low. And, honestly, anyone from my generation knows that one of the best feelings you can get from social media is actually being recognized by one of these entities.
So what does this mean for nonprofits? What does this have to do with you, who are reading this article right now? It’d be a shame to read this far and not have some application, right?
Don’t Miss Opportunities
Well, today is your lucky day. There are a couple of clear implications that ring true from the “selfie” craze that has swept our world.
First, treat people like people. Let us not forget that social media was created so that we could dialogue with others, not lecture them. Maybe that’s why it’s called social media. The highway runs both ways. You may have seen my recent article discussing how you can leverage your social media efforts to make your donors feel like VIPs, and I stand by those comments. Let’s treat our constituents with the respect that they deserve. After all, you as nonprofits do noble work to make a better world for people. See people for who they are, not for their wallet size.
Second, don’t ignore trends. The fact is, everything comes and goes. All things have a life cycle, and what may be cool today may not be cool tomorrow but may be cool again in 30 years. For example, twenty years ago, you pushed messaging and fundraised via snail mail. Today, we’ve made the move to email; but, honestly, so many people are using email that backtracking and using snail mail might be the e
lement that sets your nonprofit apart. But, before long, people are going to catch on to that and start using snail mail again. And the cycle goes on and on and on. In a future article, I’m going more in depth on the importance of studying trends, but suffice it to say that, especially with “selfies,” this trend is much more than skin deep. Ignored trends equal missed opportunities.
Til Death Do Us Part?
Will “selfies” eventually fade away like polyester and bell-bottoms? To some (including me), we can only hope. But, let us not miss the forest through the trees. The fact is, my generation wants to look you in the eyes when we talk to you, not up your nose. We want to be talked with, not talked to. And, honestly, even if you are above us economically and socially, social media gives us the illusion that you aren’t. It allows us to dialogue with you. And that’s a good thing.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the pure, unadulterated truth.