The Circle and the Future of Social Media
The Circle’s round of applause is a step back for social media
Alex Hobern was recently crowned winner of Channel 4’s The Circle, bagging himself a £75,000 prize. For the uninitiated (and the reality TV phobics), The Circle is a game show where contestants channel a fake social media presence, known as catfishing. There are a number of reasons for ordinary folk to practice catfishing, including financial gain, anonymity and much more sinister purposes. For this reason, it’s generally considered a bad thing and, yet, the program attracted one million viewers.
A vicious circle
During the program, Alex Hobern created fake social media profiles using his girlfriend’s photographs. Calling himself ‘Kate’, he created ‘the most popular person’ and was voted as an influencer. The rules of the competition are that contestants are confined to an apartment and can only communicate with each other through The Circle’s social media platform.
During his three weeks as a contestant, Alex engaged in conversations on social media under the persona of ‘Kate’; speaking with people who had no idea of his true identity. On completion of the program, Alex said, “I found the whole situation mentally draining. I lost my appetite. And I ended up second-guessing everything I was writing [on the app]. I realised everything I said counted towards my rating.” Although The Circle was created as entertainment, what are the ramifications for social media?
A dangerous game
As SEO and social media marketing experts in Leeds, ExciteBrand are only too aware of the potential dangers of catfishing. On a personal level, this practice – which is not yet illegal in the UK – brings up some very real safety issues. Although many parents monitor the screen activities of their young and teenaged children, most don’t have the time to conduct in-depth checks. Catfishing means that, the 13 year old Harry Potter fan your daughter is chatting with might actually be a 40 year old man with a questionable history. Although these safety issues are the biggest red flags when it comes to catfishing, it also has ramifications for business.
Going round in circles
When businesses spend time and money on social media marketing, it tends to revolve around one central thing – the target audience. Marketing is all about making sure you’re reaching the right people in terms of location, age, gender and interests. The advent of catfishing means that your business may be picking up fake followers causing it to be much less effective. Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate this issue, businesses can use a Facebook pixel in order to collect more detailed information about followers – and then weed out the catfishers.
At ExciteBrand, we can help by analysing your social media presence – as SEO and social media experts in Leeds, we have the skill and experience to spot those red flags and to send them on their way – possibly to the Channel 4 television studios.