We all know Twitter trolls. Directly or indirectly, we’ve all experienced them. We know them when we see them. They’re crude, vulgar, insulting, racist, sexist — just the worst of the worst. Sadly, we’ve come to expect that they will attempt to ruin any good thing that exists on the internet. In fact, they’ve become such a problem that Google launched a “Internet Justice League” of sorts through its subsidiary, Jigsaw, using AI to find trolls and eliminate their comments. In a WIRED article in September of last year, Jigsaw founder and president Jared Cohen said, “I want to use the best technology we have at our disposal to begin to take on trolling and other nefarious tactics that give hostile voices disproportionate weight. To do everything we can to level the playing field.”
The reputation that follows internet trolls has been earned from the years and years of hate and vitriol they have directed at innocent internet commenters around the world. But, lately there seems to be a shift in what internet trolls are focusing their energy on. More likely though is the idea that the trolled have taken a cue from the trolls. In an April 2017 post on Feminist Wire, Meggie Mapes suggested that one of the ways to defeat a troll is to become a troll. She said, “I advocate for more feminists to become savvy trolls, responding with common GIF’s, utilizing humor to correct blatantly sexist, racist tweets.” It seems she wasn’t the only one who saw how trolling back might actually help a cause more than letting the traditional trolls have the last word.
It’s a strategy that seems to be working for the social groups that have been able to find a cause to troll. For instance, take Donald Trump announcing to a joint session of Congress that he was setting up a hotline for victims of immigration crimes to call and report the activity of illegal aliens. Well, one citizen didn’t take kindly to the sweeping characterization of all illegal aliens as criminals. Marine Corps vet Alexander McCoy decided, it being national “Alien Day” and all, this was as ripe an opportunity as he was going to get to troll the president. So, he sent out this tweet:
Well, as you can imagine, the Twitter trolls latched on to this amazing opportunity, and flooded the hotline with calls about UFOs and tweeting ALF memes at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s twitter page. Suffice it to say, they were not amused. But, a discussion about the VOICE hotline and Donald Trump’s stance on immigration was enhanced by the visibility this episode of trolling took on. According to the Washington Post’s article on the event, McCoy said, “the goal of his action is to show dissatisfaction with Trump’s stance toward immigrants. If people keep calling, he said, maybe the administration will be forced to deactivate the hotline.”
And just last week, YouTube channel DaddyOFive was inundated with a flood of trolling due to the abusive videos the channel had been posting where the five children of DaddyOFive and MommyOFive were the subject of cruel and unquestionably abusive pranks by their parents. The power of the YouTube and Reddit communities helped to get two of the children removed from the home while the parents were under investigation for their conduct. It’s the most recent example of how an enraged group of anonymous internet users can get behind a positive idea and troll the heck out of it.
Of course, the internet will never see an end to the hateful and scary trolling that has existed for as long as the internet has. But, it’s nice to see satirical sites like Zero Trollerance taking the trolling power away from the trolls and using it for awareness of positive issues that society can actually benefit from.
One of my favorite trends in social media right now is the use of AI Lenses/ facial filters. These filters are synonymous with Snapchat, of course, but other social media platforms have been playing around with custom filters and AI lenses, and it won’t be long before the technology becomes widespread. And that’s a great thing for us public relations folks! Why? Because creating custom filters for your brand or your events couldn’t be easier. And, obviously, the more places you can get these filters seen, the better!
One of the best things a social media platform can be is FUN–and Snapchat is precisely that. So, big corporations have taken notice and are getting their slice of the 100 million Snapchat users by creating super fun AI filters for everything from TV shows to fast food. And while it’s easy to see how these AI lenses work for big advertising campaigns with equally big budgets, there’s a simpler, smaller tool you can use to engage with users for your social media campaign: custom geofilters.
So, why go with custom filters? What do they provide?
- An Audience
Not just any audience, either. This is the mother of all audiences. Snapchat has that under-25 demographic that everyone loves to engage with. Sixty percent of Snapchat users fall into that age range, so when you’re looking to get engagement on their app, that’s gonna be your go-to group. So, if your brand wants to appeal to the young, tech-savvy crowd, make yourself a custom filter, cross promote it with a hashtag, get the Snapchat crowd behind you, and do it all for a very reasonable price. That’s right, this isn’t going to eat up your budget because Snapchat filters give you…
2. More Bang for Your Buck
Say you’ve got an event you want to promote, and you want attendees to have an exclusive filter they can use while at your event. Within as little as day for the approval process, you can create a .png filter using the specifications provided by Snapchat and have a geofilter for your event for as many hours or days as you want. The size of the location you want to cover affects the price of the filter, as does the length of time you request it for, but the potential for engagement is so high, that it’s well worth the little chunk of change. For instance, if I was holding an event in Calabasas, Calif. and wanted to cover the one block radius around my event for 7 hours, it would run me about 20 bucks. Twenty. Bucks. What else can you buy in PR for twenty bucks these days?! And this expense gives you what I think is the best tool in your toolkit…
Remember how I said this is one of the best qualities a social media platform can have? Well, the same thing is true for your social media strategy. Have fun with it. Make sure your audience has fun with it. Create a filter that they want to share with friends. Create an emotional connection to your brand. Create a brand loyalist by giving them a memorable experience. Work with your design team to come up with graphics and a tagline that you think embody your brand, your event or your idea. This is one of those small details that has a huge impact on user experience. Make the most of it.
And one last tidbit to mull on: It’s easy to connect your event to a location and create a filter, but what about an idea or a product? The geofilter isn’t always just about a specific event. Think outside of the box and come up with ways to use the geofilter for things outside of events. By knowing the latest social media trends, working within them and targeting them towards the biggest, most engaged audience, you’re going to get a wide reach for whatever you’re trying to promote.