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You might be suffering from FOMO

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Are you compulsively checking your phone for e-mails, Twitter notifications or Facebook updates? You might be suffering from FOMO.

In a previous article we mentioned that the word hashtag has been added to the Oxford Dictionary last year. Believe it or not FOMO made the cut in 2013 already. Google defines FOMO as follows:

FOMO ˈfəʊməʊ/ noun informal

1. anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

“I realized I was a lifelong sufferer of FOMO”

Although FOMO isn’t directly attributed to social media, it does aggravate the situation. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is merely the modern terminology for “the grass is always greener on the other side” (Psychologies magazine, 18 June 2012)

With so many options and choice available to us, it’s no wonder we feel dissatisfied with our lives. Fortunately a few years back we didn’t know we were missing out, but social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn make it impossible for us not to see what our peers are up to – socially and career wise.

However, social media hardly ever gives a realistic portrayal of someone’s life.  Who tweets about their sick cat, problems with plumbing or the howling dog next door? We’d rather show our extravagant holiday, meal at an upmarket restaurant or the expensive wine we’re drinking.

According to a nationwide survey done in June 2012 by a pharmaceutical firm, over 62% of about 3 000 respondents aged between 15 and 50 years said that they live in “constant fear” of missing out on something more exciting that what they are doing.

But how do we prevent ourselves from becoming swept up in the hysteria of social media and this constant nagging feeling that we’re missing something? GQ  and Nir and Far have a few ideas, but it all boils down to living and enjoying your life the way you want to and stop trying to keep up with the rest of the world. So why not rather suffer from JOMO (Joy of Missing Out)?

PS. YOLO is an acronym for “you only live once”. Similar to carpe diem, it implies that one should enjoy life, even if that entails taking risks. More on Wikipedia.




Friday, July 24th, 2015

hashtagBefore social media a hashtag or the octothorp was only a symbol on a phone button we never used. Those days are long gone.

Today hashtags are part of our daily vocabulary. The Oxford English Dictionary even added it in June 2014.

The hashtag was first brought to Twitter in 2007 by Chris Messina. Before this the hash or pound symbol, had been used in other ways on the web. For example on IRC chat to indicate channel names. Since then its usage has spread much wider.

1. a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media sites such as Twitter to
identify messages on a specific topic.
Or by Wikipedia’s definition – “… a type of label or metadata tag, used on social network and micro blogging services which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content.”
Marketing platform Offerpop sums up the history of the hashtag in an easy infographic.
When using a # in front of words or phrases, they will automatically be tagged and searchable for users of the social network – a fast and easy way to accumulate everything related to one topic. Hashtags can be added anywhere – in the middle of a sentence, at the start or beginning. They are particularly useful on a social network like Instagram if you are looking for specific photos of an event or travel images of, for example #paris or #worldcup2014.
Their main function should be to provide meta data, context or extra information for a tweet, photo or post. By adding a hashtag you will ensure you tweet will be seen. But make sure it adds value to what you have to say.
Unfortunately hashtags can easily be misused. Spammers send tweets with popular hashtags even if the tweet has nothing to do with them in order to gain exposure. When hashtags are misused – for example added to gain followers or not adding to the relevant conversation, the users account can be filtered and even suspended.
Two #s are considered acceptable per post or tweet, while three are seen as the limit. Anything more will only annoy your followers. In 2013 Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake performed a parody on the sometimes ridiculous usage of hashtags.
Since 2010 hashtags have even been used by some television channels for promotion by adding a “branded” # before, during and after an episodes broadcast.  These will typically appear at the bottom of the screen.
They are used by social media experts and major companies to gain followers and increase brand recognition. For more information on how to use hashtags optimally, read Rebecca Hiscott’s article on Mashable.
Popular websites supporting hashtags:

A little bird told me

Friday, July 24th, 2015

twitter-bird-blue-on-whiteHave you ever heard of Larry the bird?  Yes, the Twitter bird has a name.

We’re all familiar with the online social networking service called Twitter, but do we know more than the fact that it consists of 40 character “tweets”?

Twitter, or twttr as it was known initially was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass during a daylong brainstorming session. Dorsey explained the origin of the “Twitter” title as follows:

“…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

“twttr” was used in the beginning since the domain wasn’t available immediately. Six months later at Twitters launch, the domain was purchased and the name changed to the one we now use.

Almost ten years later Twitter Inc. is still based in San Francisco and has more than 25 offices around the world with more than 500 million users.

Through the years Twitter developed from being a social tool people use to tweet their experiences and opinions to a useful tool for marketing, education, news, as well as for emergency communication. Twitter fulfilled an important function during the San Francisco earthquakes and Boston marathon bombings. In South Africa Twitter proved useful in updating us on the Cape Town fires and subsequently also assisted with fundraising.

In events such as these Twitter users use a # to group information and make it searchable, for example #capetownfires. As soon as a hashtag’s usage increases and is mentioned at a greater rate, it becomes a “trending topic” and will be visible on the sidebar to all users. These topics show Twitter users the most talked about subjects, whether they are news events or people’s opinions on current topics. (More on the # here)

Colleges and universities also started using Twitter as a communication and learning tool for students. When courses consist of large groups of students, Twitter can be used to facilitate communication between class members.


Tweets are publicly visible by default, but senders can restrict messages to just their followers. Users can tweet via the Twitter website, compatible external applications (such as for smartphones), or by Short Message Service (SMS) available in certain countries. Retweeting is when a tweet is forwarded via Twitter by users. Both tweets and retweets can be tracked to see which ones are most popular.

Users may subscribe to other users’ tweets – this is known as “following” and subscribers are known as “followers” or “tweeps”. In addition, users can block those who have followed them.

The "@" sign followed by a username is used for mentioning or replying to other users. To repost a message from another Twitter user and share it with one’s own followers, a user can click the retweet button within the Tweet.

You can watch the animated history of Twitter on YouTube.


Toeter vs Twitter

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Regular KykNet viewers are by now well aware of the first, and so far only, Afrikaans social network with the quirky name,  toeter.

toeter’s claims to be “Haas Das se nuuskas”, Antie Stienie’s stoep, Nommer Asseblief’s switch board and the tannie next door gossiping over the gardencrete wall. It’s the note passed on under the desk in class and, the cat being let out of the bag and the fast spreading rumour no-one van put an end to.

There’s no lack of creative marketing, that’s for sure. According to founder,  Frans Roelofse, toeter can potentially draw one million users and has a marketing value of R450 million. Which might also explain why Afrikaans TV channel KykNet decided to support the platform and become toeter’s media partner.

toeter is a social network exclusively for everyone speaking Afrikaans – all ages, races, religions or political orientations. Just know, if you don’t adhere to their rules and misuse the platform, you will be hearing from them.

In principle toeter works exactly the same as Twitter, only in Afrikaans. It has the same functionality with a time line and also uses the @ to address other users. The well-known hash tag (#) also makes its appearance here. Users might initially have some trouble getting used to the more creative, Afrikaans terms in comparison to Twitter.

At first glance toeter presents itself as an effective social platform with all the necessary functionality. Unfortunately due to it’s exclusivity as an Afrikaans social network it’s also somewhat limiting and you won’t get as much mileage from it as with the well-established Twitter.

But try it at and let us know what you think. It’s also already available for the iPhone-, Blackberry- and Android platforms.

Twitter targeted by cybercriminals

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

As no doubt some of you are aware, within the last few weeks, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in the United States have had breaches of their systems by Chinese-based hackers. Also recently Twitter reported that approximately 250 000 Twitter accounts were compromised by the same attackers. 

The attackers may have gained access to some user information, including usernames, email addresses, and encrypted passwords.

As a precautionary security measure, Twitter has reset passwords for these accounts. If your account was one of them, you will have recently received (or will shortly) an email from Twitter at the address associated with your Twitter account, notifying you that you will need to create a new password. Your old password will not work when you try to log in to Twitter. 

No doubt, Facebook will also be the target of this new Chinese-based attack next, as users often use the same password for both Twitter and Facebook. 

This attack was not the work of amateurs, and experts not believe this was an isolated incident. The attack is extremely sophisticated, and it is possible that other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked. 

However it is very important that you do NOT access Twitter by clicking on ANY links contained in ANY e-mail sent to you Twitter (or by an e-mail looking like it comes from Twitter), as often hackers forge e-mail to make it look like it is from Twitter to trick you into divulging your password to the hackers. 

Instead it is always best, if you get such a mail from Twitter, to go directly to your Internet Browser and to type in the Twitter address directly to reset your password.


* Zendesk also announced today that they have been hacked and three of their social clients, Pinterest, Twitter and Tumblr were affected. More on this.


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