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Let’s talk about fast fashion – you know it’s bad for The Planet, so why can’t you stop buying it?

When one sits on hardwood floors, surrounded by precipitous piles of pastel sweater vests, ribbed crop tops and corduroy slacks; it’s hard to know what outfit to wear. Teetering on a kitchen stool, scouring through the highest shelf in the closet in a desperate bid to find something “different” to wear grocery shopping – last year’s impulse purchases, a tiger print mesh top and tie dye sweatshirt, are flung to the ground. No longer trending, the poor-quality items worn just twice each are immediately dismissed as outfit options. 

Half an hour passes and the frantic search continues to no avail. Not for the first time, the progressive obsolescence of my wardrobe hits me like a slap in the face. How can a person possibly own so many clothes and have nothing to wear? I step down from the stool and let out a sigh as I wade through the surrounding sea of crumpled polyester, bested again by the toxic relationship too many of us can’t quit. 

Fashion brands have always played on our aspirations and insecurities and on the seemingly innate desire to express ourselves through our clothing. But now, as I entertain the thought of a quick online browse rather than confront my consumerist urges; it seems those companies access their target shoppers not only through the traditional avenues like billboards or prime-time TV ads, but in more intimate spaces and at all hours of the day. 

We are inundated with daily targeted advertisements and brand deals, whether through their own channels or, more furtively, by enlisting social media influencers to convince us an item is irresistible, or at least unavoidable. And so, confined to four walls for months on end, the browsing perfectly suits our moods of low-key dissatisfaction. In attempt to scratch an itch that can’t be reached and despite the overflowing wardrobes, we add items to the basket – improbable outfits for imaginary parties in a world that no longer exists. 

Since the early 2000’s “fast fashion” has inserted itself into the fashion industry as a means for shoppers to purchase trendy clothing at a fraction of the cost that high end brands offer. In a process driven by rapid turnover, consumers succumb to the inexpensive price tags and find themselves stuck on a hedonic treadmill in which the continuous pursuit of new clothing leaves them unsatisfied and unhappy. Over the past decade, the digital era has bolstered the proliferation of “ultra” fast fashion brands online. As a result, in wealthy countries across the world, clothes shopping has become a powerful pastime, a form of endless entertainment which yields immediate gratification. 

The advent of COVID-19 catalysed western civilisation’s redirection of their gaze to their internal surrounds. In the discretion of our own homes, some – much like myself – have felt obligated to address the copious items that besiege them and in turn, reflect upon the consequences of their actions. Yet, in this time of crisis, most consumers haven’t stopped shopping – rather they have limited their purchases to affordable pleasures. Now, more than ever, concerns continue to surface about the human and environmental impacts behind fast fashion and how to best navigate its ubiquitous presence.

Beyond the surface level understanding of fast fashion, what is it really? And what is the true cost of western society’s deeply embedded, customary reliance on cheap clothing?  

How can we cut ties with fast fashion and reduce our environmental footprint?

It is important to first address that our relationship with fast fashion is largely propelled by the neurological pleasures associated with the process of shopping. When an individual shops – even just by browsing online, a sense of pleasure is often experienced. In a pattern of thinking deemed “transactional utility”, before buying an item a consumer’s brain will perform a cost-benefit analysis to compare how much they like the product verse it’s cost. This procedure elicits a positive neurological response – especially when the purchase is determined a “bargain” and the consumer follows through. 

Essentially, sale-shopping feeds a key part of the human brain’s reward system – making the cheap and seemingly infinite allure of fast fashion hard to ignore. Fast fashion knowingly capitalises on this emotionally charged consumer culture and so these brands have long convinced us that we “need” the garments they offer. By being aware of the neurological processes which partly account for our shopping behaviours, we may be able to better navigate our decisions and break the viscous cycle. 

As mentioned in the above explainer video, the impact of how most of our clothes are made can’t be ignored any longer – at least not without causing permanent, irreversible damage. This begs the question: what solutions can the conscious consumer or business employ to negate fast fashion?

Owner of Australian clothing business Sustainable Fashion and advocate for sustainable living Sarah Garrett-Hodoniczky weighed in on the topic and has helped to guide the following suggestions:

Solutions for consumers to break the cycle and be more conscious:

Consumers have the power to reduce demand for cheap garments and encourage the global market to stop the flow – less demand equals less production. While it may be tempting to place the sole blame on big businesses who endorse the industry, there is an individual responsibility for the cycle of consumption and waste caused by fast fashion.

2. Buy fewer clothes

Instead readjust your gaze and look internally to your wardrobe. Consider how you can repurpose your clothes to align with your current style – rather than mindlessly purchasing something new. If you must seek out new clothes: remember that you don’t have to ditch your personal style to embrace conscious fashion. Stylish, sustainable apparel can be purchased online, in second-hand stores, through clothing swaps or via renting services (if you need an outfit for a special occasion). 

Our whole lives we’ve been trained to believe that to be happy we have to have more and more and more. It’s this wildly untapped marketing strategy based on real science that’s used across all the industries,” Sarah Garrett-Hodoniczky said.

“It leaves consumers under the impression that they aren’t enough until they’ve purchased the biggest television, newest phone model or in this case, the trendiest clothes. The result is a generation full of deeply unhappy people, but it doesn’t have to be this way.”

2. Invest in quality and longevity rather than trend-chasing.

If you prioritise dressing well or have a love for fashion, then put your money where your mouth is. Be meticulous in your approach to purchasing new items and consider if the product on offer adds value to your wardrobe or if it’s just trending right now. Look for versatile pieces that build on top of your existing staples and timeless, statement items that aren’t attached to trends. If your usual justification for purchasing from a fast store is cost effectiveness, consider applying the “cost per wear” formula to calculate the economic benefits of investing in quality items. 

Instead of viewing your purchase as a great success because it cost you, let’s say only 29 dollars, look at how many wears you’ve had from it – probably two? That’s 15 dollars per wear. Comparatively, take my bamboo line for example, I’ve had customers say they’ve re-worn those products for over ten years,” Sarah said.

“They might’ve paid 100 dollars for the garment upfront, but it ends up being better value for money because its dynamic style and quality guarantees long-term wearability.”

3. Re-frame the way you view online shopping.

Look at your 24/7 access to online clothing retailers as an opportunity to research and support brands that best reflect your personal morals and individual style – rather than as an avenue for a quick clothing fix. While the presence of 100% sustainable Australian clothing brands is still limited, demand is steadily increasing and more brands than ever are on offer. This is an exciting prospect, however it’s also important to be aware of and know how to identify “greenwashing” strategies. Sustainability itself is trending, so you’ll have to commit to a little extra digging to ensure you’re buying from an authentic seller. A good rule of thumb is to check the transparency of the website – if the brand openly discusses it’s production process or factory standards and has the certifications to back itself, then you’re probably on the right track. 

These big bands get a nice pat on the back because they release an ‘eco-friendly’ collection but that collection accounts for maybe two per cent of their overall stock. The other 98 per cent still relies on cheap labour and contributes to pollution, it’s still fast fashion,” Sarah confirmed.

4. Wash your clothes less.

Most clothing doesn’t need to be machine washed after every wear. To avoid releasing microplastics into the ocean; unless your clothes are visibly dirty (or heavy on the nose!) try going longer between loads – aim for at least three wears before it hits the laundry. This will help to reduce your water and energy consumption and maintain the longevity of your items.

5. Take care of what you own and rethink end-of-life.

Follow care instructions and keep a sewing kit handy for basic repairs; broken straps, tears and missing buttons can be all be salvaged with just a few stitches. Hang and store delicate pieces to extend their life and before sending off garments that no longer fit to donation or rubbish sites, consider having them tailored. The cyclical nature of fashion guarantees that many of your once-favourite items will soon again be in the limelight – save your staples (like a quality pair of skinny jeans) and save your money.

Solutions for businesses:

Businesses of all size, form and age can implement measures to reduce their wastage and reliance on non-renewable energy. Inhibiting a smooth or rapid global transition away from fast fashion and toward sustainability is not an absence of capability or resources, rather the collective ignorance and lack of accountability from companies in the industry. For the aspiring or established conscious business, some solutions include:

  1. (Re)evaluate your business model.

In line with conscious capitalism, beyond reductions in packaging and transportation, businesses need to be willing to rework their approach to growth and profit. Identify what facets of the business can be reworked to decrease reliance on non-renewable resources. Call into question your material choices, product’s end of life and the impact of production.

“It comes down to committing to a business plan that really represents you as a person and then having the dedication to see it through. The changes don’t have to happen all at once. This a lifetime endeavour, so progress will be far from linear and is certainly allowed to be gradual.”

2. Bridge the gap between production and sales.

Offering small batch or custom orders can simultaneously reduce waste and meet the demands of conscious consumers. New businesses can implement this from the start and larger, existing companies such as Levi Strauss are already introducing bespoke alternatives. By minimising the volume of production and embracing a circular economy, businesses can create distinctive products that last and establish close connections with customers.

“Avoid the ‘sale, sale, sale’ method to generate more turnover. Businesses have discounted their products so much that consumers think they’re not getting any value from the purchase unless they see how much they’ve saved. This dynamic means the driving factor for sales on both ends is price; what about just providing a good quality, beautiful product that consumers can invest in and know won’t fall apart after two wears?” Sarah offered

3. Emphasise re-shoring.

Accessing materials and resources from local sources and resident manufacturers can strengthen supply chains and ensure safe and fair working conditions for the garment workers creating your products. Localising your business also presents a tremendous opportunity to ease the impact on the environment through a reduction of shipping and storage and in turn a reduction of emissions and energy usage. 

“When workers are paid a good wage, like my girls, the garment is made with a whole different feeling. You can tell by the way it’s made that they want to be there and they have the time and energy to do the job well,” Sarah said. 

Many paths to sustainability – just start by choosing one.

While each individual and company has a different level of impact on the planet, the unavoidable reality is we all contribute to fashion pollution and the waste crisis. 

Through the acknowledgment and reduction of our carbon footprints and the reconsideration of our relationship with fashion, we can slow the demand for – and effects of – fast fashion. 

Every journey will look and feel unique and that’s okay – it’s more critical than ever to just start, right now. If you’d like to make the first step, some fantastic resources have been linked below.

For more information on the topics explored in this blog post, check out:

To shop sustainable, check out:

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“Enticement” & more …

In every sort of job whether it be a chef, a dancer, a salesman, or as it so happens – a journalist – the primary goal is to entice. To entice the critic, the audience, the reader etc. is to ensure that they’ll want more and that they’ll indeed come back for more.

Similarly, on every platform of media whether it be a social one such as Facebook, or an informative one like a televised news program, the primary goal is also to entice. To entice is to gain more likes, more engagement and more viewers, thus ensuring that they’ll come back for more.

This notion of enticement can be demonstrated in any or every other aspect of life (politics, blossoming friendships or relationships, blah blah blah you get the point) because we as humans are naturally attracted to anything that intrigues us.

So, this whole idea begs the question – how can I entice you as a reader? What can I say or do that will leave you with a vast desire for more? After all, this is just the beginning of an attempt to create an inaugural blog, conducted by a 19-year-old first year journalist student, who drinks far too much coffee and has never truly mastered the art of reverse parking.

Should I introduce myself in a comical way? Or would that leave the impression that I’m not serious or passionate about this blog? Should I try a more mature approach? Or would that suggest that I just lack fun? Yes, these questions have been plaguing me since I first opened this document 4 days ago and no, the fact that probably less than five people will ever read this does not help to calm my control-freak/perfectionist tendencies.

Well, how about I start simply with this. An introduction and a promise:

Hi, my name is Amelia but I prefer Milly. I like to talk, a lot. Pasta and I are in a long-term committed relationship. My lucky number is 11.

Oh, and, I fully intend to take on every mental breakdown that emanates due to the study of Journalism and turn it into something remarkable. It’s a promise, of which I’m sure you’ll find to be rather … wait for it… enticing.

Vivid’s Back With a Bang as Opening Week Draws Crowds to Sydney

Following two years’ worth of cancelled gigs, the Vivid Live music festival has made a spectacular comeback, attracting crowds of thousands over the weekend. 

TEMGAZI, GLO and POOKIE
Images: supplied
 Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA

While it’s been a long wait since the lights went out on Vivid Sydney 2019, attendees welcomed the festival back with open arms on Friday night. 

Sydney local Skye Gregory attended Vivid’s opening night and said the night was a bustling success and trumped her last visit.

“They have new spots to listen to music around town rather than it just being exclusive to Circular Quay,” Gregory said.

“Lots of lines and big crowds – it was much better this year compared to when I last went.”  

Featuring an 8-kilometre trail and some 200 shows over the course of May and June, Vivid has been coined the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Vivid’s lights adorn the Sydney Opera House after a two-year wait
Image: supplied

Over the next two months, the festival will welcome a colossal line-up of more than 70 local and international music acts across six performance spaces at Sydney Opera house. 

This week’s early event-goers got a taste of not only scheduled musicians but also street performers and buskers who have lined the streets of Sydney. 

 
Crowds gathered around a street performer in a carp mask singing old timey tunes
Footage: supplied

In its now 12th year, Vivid has captivated the city’s attention and is expected to provide a much-needed boost to the local economy, with the live music line-up a major part of its success. 

Attendees dined and danced to DJ acts aboard boats on Sydney Harbour over the week
Footage: Supplied

Sydney-based R&B vocalist, songwriter and choreographer GLO will host Going Under: Culture Re-set – a showcase of diverse Bla(c)k talent spanning movement art, live performances and live DJ sets. 

Sydney-based R&B artist GLO
Image: supplied

GLO said the event intends to highlight Bla(c)k music, art, expression and culture.

“I look up to these visionaries [on the line-up] so much and I’m so proud of them and their journeys,” GLO said. 

“I love seeing Bla(c)k people in this industry carve their own path and in turn, carve a path for all of us.”

Culture Re-set is the second in a series of three artist-led, immersive music shows which will be presented at Mary’s Underground

The Going Under series will deliver diverse talent spanning live music/DJ sets, movement art, dance and Afrofuturism. 

While many have been quick to rejoice at Vivid’s return, some have felt the long wait didn’t quite pay off. 

Attendee of week 1 of Vivid Merralissa Wintzloff said the night was less than eventful.

“The experience wasn’t as good as I thought it would be and I think social media played a lot into that,” Wintzloff said.

“I wouldn’t recommend it; you can see all the highlights on TikTok and save yourself travelling to the city.”

Running from May 27 until June 18, audiences will have plenty of opportunities to decide their take on Vivid Sydney.

Vivid Announces Colossal Music Line-up after two-year Covid-19 Hiatus

From Sampa The Great to BLESSED to Touch Sensitive to Paul Kelly, Vivid reveals its full and glorious line-up for 2022.

 
Paul Kelly, Sampa The Great and BLESSED 
Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA 

After an unfortunate though justified two years off, Sydney’s Vivid Festival is set to return in 2022 and they’re bringing with them a colossal line-up. 

Announced today, the line-up boasts more than 100 music events and there’s something to cater to every taste – with a broad cache of brilliant local and international acts expected to adorn the popular lights festival through May and June.

Sampa the Great – alongside her sister Mwanjè and neo-soul artist KYE – will present An Afro Future for her first Australian show in years, Ghanaian-born Sydney-sider BLESSED will bring his melodic beats and poignant rap lyrics to the table with his long-awaited debut album ‘Aussie Blackstar’ featuring emerging Aussie hip-hop acts like Brisbane’s Baby Prince and Sydney’s Manu Crooks and Paul Kelly and his band will perform an exclusive four-concert series and will be joined by Gamilaraay artist Thelma Plum.

BLESSED present AUSSIE BLACKSTAR: Thursday, 2nd June, Studio

Other overseas acts include Boris (Japan) with their dreamy soundscapes, young drummer/producer Yussef Dayes (UK) with his fluid and innovative sound and rapper/songwriter Jay1 (UK). 

Following two consecutive cancellations due to extended Covid-19 lockdowns for Greater Sydney, Vivid is pulling out all the stops in the hopes of boosting the local entertainment and hospitality industry. 

Video: Vivid Music 2022
Source: Vivid Sydney YouTube

Not only can people expect some ridiculously good music across the 23-day festival, but also theatre, dance, art and of course, spectacular lights shows.

More than a dozen locations across the city will participate in the festival including Luna Park, Taronga Zoo, Circular Quay, Barangaroo, The Rocks and Darling Harbour.

Vivid happens across Sydney from Friday 27 May to Saturday 18 June. Head to the website for more information.

Let’s Talk About ADHD – contextual report

In Future Cultures, students are tasked with producing a digital artefact (DA) that addresses the future in the short or long term. 

Image 1: Let’s Talk About ADHD – a contextual report
Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA

You can view my Digital Artefact here:

Digital Artefact Pitch

Part 1 of my business plan

Part 2 of my business plan

Let’s Talk About ADHD socials: InstagramTwitterFacebook.

In this contextual report I will:

  1. Summarise how my DA has drawn on relevant BCM325 lecture concepts and topics
  2. Provide evidence of engagement with target publics 
  3. Discuss peer feedback
  4. Appraise my DA’s success and limitations 
  5. Conclude with a statement on the future of my DA

1. Summary of applied lecture concepts and topics and how my DA addressed the future cultures challenge

From the onset and throughout the duration of my digital artefact, I employed various concepts and ideas adopted from Future Cultures subject materials.  These included:

  • In the research stage of the project, I engaged in operations research – ‘thought-based-on-data’ – to increase the effectiveness of my decision making and to help inform the actions necessary to predict the future of my brand and career. 
  • Wendell Bell’s 9 major purposes and theory of multiple futures – interpreting the past and orienting the present was a vital element of my background research. By understanding both the history of ADHD/ADHD digital content as well as the history and evolution of content creation and digital media marketing, I was better able to predict the future of my brand and chosen career. The multiple futures theory by Wendell Bell allowed me to ponder, debate and predict the various (3) futures of  Let’s Talk About ADHD and my career industry. Furthermore, as part of a separate project, I produced an explainer on the ADHD misinformation circulating online at present to understand how I need to structure and relay my content to counter this misinformation and differentiate my brand from others. 
  • Perhaps my largest (and certainly my initial) takeaway from future cultures is the argument that the future is already here, and that – as pointed out by Elanora Masini – in the present time, we can choose and build our futures. This concept is instilled in the very bones of my DA, as it is constructed on the principle that we are already in the future – in order to ensure the success and longevity of my brand, I had to address its current state (SWOT analysis) and start actively working toward (posting schedule) the future of Let’s Talk About ADHD I had envisioned. 

2. Evidence of engagement with target public 

There is no doubt that, across the span of my DA, I continuously engaged in public, cross-platform discourse with my target audience. Let’s Talk About ADHD’s April and May post reports can account for these interactions; these reports detail 73 posts I published across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, however do not represent the total number of interactions with my target audience as they do not account for interactions such as likes, direct messages, stories or retweets. 

3. Discuss Peer Feedback

During the initial stages of my project, I received a substantial amount of peer feedback:

Here, my peer Tegan suggested researching past trends and predictions relating to ADHD to better inform my DA and queried about the possibility of expanding my brand to a blog or website. I responded to this feedback informing Tegan that I was already familiar with her suggested resource, but that I would consider an expansion of my brand. As a result, in my 2-year trajectory for my business, Let’s Talk About ADHD announced its intention to expand to either WordPress or Wix in late 2023 to early 2024. 

Image 2: screenshot of peer comment from Tegan
Image 3: screenshot of my reply to Tegan

Here, Georgie suggested posting content about the ADHD diagnostic process – at the time of the comment, I already had pre-existing content on @letstalkaboutadhd discussing this topic, however I decided to adopt this advice and further produce content on the different types of ADHD and how they are diagnosed via the DSM-V criteria. She also suggested expanding the brand to TikTok to diversify my content, however after conducting my own research on the current level of ADHD misinformation circulating on TikTok, I decided not to take on board Georgie’s suggestion and rather focus on the brand’s expansion to Twitter and Facebook. While I didn’t consider transitioning to TikTok, I do agree that diversifying my content will be of benefit to my brand and target public and so, as part of my business plan, I intend to begin producing Instagram reels in the short-term future. 

Image 4: screenshot of peer comment from Georgie

Samantha suggested I generate a LinkTree link for my social media bio’s to enhance engagement and provide various resources to my target audience. I entirely agree with Samantha’s suggestion and believe LinkTree would be a powerful tool to congregate all of Let’s Talk About ADHD’s social accounts, recent articles and current research. Unfortunately, due to time restraints, I am yet to follow through with this suggestion. However, as Let’s Talk About ADHD will see to significant expansion and changes in the short-term future, I will be sure to undertake this recommendation. 

Image 5: screenshot of peer comment from Samantha

4. Let’s Talk About ADHD – success and limitations

Over the course of this semester, I have developed a DA that I am truly proud of and that I genuinely believe will greatly benefit my future career prospects. I have seen the brand’s social accounts grow steadily across the past ten weeks, with Twitter in particular garnering an unexpected amount of metric progression and public discourse. I had two posts in particular receive a substantial amount of retweets and likes, which boosted my confidence at a necessary time. 

However, perhaps the most rewarding and generally affirming success I experienced within my DA were the conversations I had with other neurodiverse women and young adults – I really believe I have created a safe, conducive and welcoming digital space for likeminded people to engage in life-changing discourse.

There were a few limitations to the project that need to be mentioned:

  • I struggled to fully commit to the content schedules I created – due to time restraints and other study commitments, I had to place a few posts on the back-burner.
  • I changed the original business plan proposal from a three-post series to a two-post series.
  • I altered the multimedia element of my final post from being a video essay to being an audio podcast.
  • My business plan blog posts were not posted according to schedule. 

When reviewing these limitations, I believe that they are only minor and did not significantly impact the overall quality and utility of my digital artefact. 

5. The future of Let’s Talk About ADHD and my career in content creation and digital media marketing 

Given the ever-changing and ever-turbulent nature of my chosen career in digital content creation and marketing, it is difficult to predict exactly how my digital artefact could evolve and change in the future. 

As I stated previously, my most important takeaway from my DA and future cultures is that the future of my brand and my career lies within the very decisions and actions I pursue now, in the present. Through planning the next two years of my business and predicting the probable short to long term futures of my career, I have been able to create a trajectory for the future of my business that will see an expansion of my brand to a website and have identified skills (such as video content creation and knowledge of the metaverse)  that I will need to develop and improve in order for my brand and self to remain relevant within the future of the digital content creation and marketing industry. 

Remember:

Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA

Let’s Talk About ADHD – a summary

In Future Cultures, students are tasked with producing a digital artefact (DA) that addresses the future and has a clear target audience and public utility.

In this summary I will:

  1. Outline my DA – including the concept, methodology, public utility and trajectory.
  2. Identify background research that informed my DA.
  3. Provide evidence of continual refinement of DA across the duration of the semester – a timeline comparison of the one included in my original DA pitch vs. how the project actually progressed.

1. DA overview

At the start of this semester, I pitched a concept to produce a business plan for my pre-existing Instagram account/brand – Let’s Talk About ADHD – spanning across three blog posts, as well as a nine-week content production/posting schedule. The resulting final product closely reflects this pitch; however, a structural change to the business plan was made and it was split into two posts rather than three.

You can view my Digital Artefact here:

Digital Artefact Pitch

Part 1 of my business plan

Part 2 of my business plan

Let’s Talk About ADHD socials: InstagramTwitterFacebook.

DA outline:

Image 1: Let’s Talk About ADHD business plan and content schedule – project outline
Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA

2. Background research

Prior to commencing production of my digital artefact, I conducted formative and operational research about business plans and content scheduling as well as underpinned concepts and theories from lecture materials to the core purpose and functionality of my DA to ensure my DA would address the Future Cultures challenge

The chief sources I relied on to develop an understanding of the structure of a business plan and what should and shouldn’t be included in the plan for Let’s Talk About ADHD included:

Lecture concepts and theories:

  • Wendell Bell’s theory of possible, probable and preferable futures allowed me to identify these futures within my chosen career of content creation and digital marketing – this connection was explicitly made in the audio element of part 2 of my DA. 
  • Masini’s understanding of a futurist’s social responsibility and multiple futures aligned well with my DA and guided my production of content to support and uplift a marginalised, stigmatised and misunderstood community. 
  • Cathy Hackl’s specialist understanding of the metaverse and it’s role in the short to long term future helped to inform and direct my future thinking regarding my career in content creation and digital marketing.

3. Project timeline comparison

As I set myself up for a significant amount of work within this DA, my original projected timeline differed from the actual outcome, however I did follow my content schedule’s closely and engaged in consistent daily interactions on the brand’s socials as I originally intended to. Thus, I would say that while the amount of work was achievable, the timeline was inaccurate and should have more closely reflected my ADHD tendency to leave things to the last minute to get that dopamine boost hah!

Original Timeline:

Image 2: Original predicted production timeline
Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA

Actual timeline:

Image 3: Actual production timeline
Source: Amelia Phelps | CANVA

The Future of Let’s Talk About ADHD – Part 2

For my BCM325 Digital Artefact (DA), I am producing a business plan that spans across a two-part blog series. The plan addresses the short-term future of my brand – Let’s Talk About ADHD – and personal career. Part 2 includes a competitive market overview, summary of digital content created across the span of the DA, content calendar for May 2022 and a coinciding post and profile metric performance report, 2-year planned trajectory for my business and an audio segment on the future of content creation and digital marketing. 

Image 1: The Future of Let’s Talk About ADHD – Part 2
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

Competitive Overview

Until 2021, there were but a few ADHD content creators online – think @adhd_couple,@the_mini_adhd_coach and @adhd_alien. These creators had their own distinct brand, name, style of content and followings. But the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns saw an exponential growth in ADHD online content. Now, there exists a blossoming ADHD community across all social media platforms – particularly on  TikTokInstagram and Twitter.

While this newfound digital spotlight has led to a radical increase of ADHD awareness, it has also led to the same content being regurgitated across different accounts as well as a substantial increase in the level of misinformation among ADHD content online. 

This competitive overview seeks to identify major competitors of Let’s Talk About ADHD and discuss what sets my brand apart from the rest. 

Direct competitors (3) based on target audience (women and young adults with ADHD), type of content (gallery/informative), frequency of posting/engagement (daily-weekly) and style of content (bright and bold) include: 

@women.and.adhd

@mollys_adhd_mayhem

@adhd.her

Competitors strengths and weaknesses:

Image 2: Let’s Talk About ADHD’s competitor’s strengths and weaknesses
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

After having researched Let’s Talk About ADHD’s major competitors, I have identified a unique competitive advantage that each brand possesses that must be considered as my brand continues to grow and expand. These include:

@mollys_adhd_mayhem – has a wide variety of types of content. Molly has recently expanded to include more face-to-camera content in order to continue growing her brand and exposure of her content. This content is effective as it creates a more intimate and genuine experience for the audience. 

@women.and.adhd – has created an original character/graphic to use in her posts. This has created an independent and recognisable aesthetic for her followers and other non-followers.

@adhd.her – has produced content unlike the majority of ADHD content existing online. The creator uses quotes and facts from healthcare professionals as well as celebrities or influential characters with ADHD, clips from documentaries and links to articles written by professionals. This different style of content has separated @adhd.her from the regurgitated ADHD content that currently saturates Instagram and has created a unique image for the account. 

Differentiation – what makes @letstalkaboutadhd unique?

Let’s Talk About ADHD is more than just an Instagram account. It is an educational, inclusive, cross-platform community. Filling a niche in the market, the business produces ADHD content researched by an accredited, ADHD journalist who has formal training in graphic design. This content – while supported by personal experience – is based on studies and research conducted by healthcare professionals in the field. The goal of this content is to combat the ADHD misinformation circulating social media currently by presenting factual, reliable and relatable information in an easy-to-access, free and supportive online community.

By offering cross-platform coverage and discourse on important issues impacting ADHD’ers, Let’s Talk About ADHD supplies content to individuals across the globe. This content varies in length and size – from one slide memetic posts on Twitter to long-form explainers on our blog  (currently the founder’s personal blog, however in the short-term future our own blog will be launched) – meaning there is something to suit everyone’s scrolling moods

Let’s Talk About ADHD sets itself apart from the market by offering a tailored, audience-immersive experience where followers of the brand have a chance every month to vote on the type of content they want to see. Via a game of “This or That?”, @letstalkaboutadhd effectively allows its target public to decide what content they want to see and learn about. This feedback also informs the brand of potential upcoming trends in the market. 

Let’s Talk About ADHD will primarily rely on differentiation to stand out in the market. While there are multiple categories of competitors and substitutes for our services, Let’s Talk About ADHD has a more unique and original offer for ADHD’ers seeking community support and connection. 

Let’s Talk About ADHD – May Content Calendar and ‘This or That’ social tiles

As beforementioned, @letstalkaboutadhd directly engages its audience to gauge their opinion prior to producing content. This process generates powerful feedback loops regarding what the brand’s customers want to see and what content is less important to them, thus optimizing the likelihood of the content’s success in a competitive market with low barriers to entry. 

This or That” – May 2022

Images 3-7: Let’s Talk About ADHD “This or That” May social tiles
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

Results:

61% ADHD & relationships 

61% ADHD & eating 

50%-50% ADHD and zoning out, ADHD and trauma 

Based on the results of the “This or That” game for May, the following content schedule was created for the month: 

Image 8: Let’s Talk About ADHD May content calendar
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

Socials summary

As part of my Digital Artefact, I sought to consistently produce content for the Let’s Talk About ADHD social media accounts across a nine-week period by strictly adhering to a content schedule. The purpose of the posting schedule was to create a more consistent approach to creating and publishing content, to hold me accountable and to allow me to track the brand’s metric progression. 

The posting schedule saw me producing content of three types: 

  1. Everyday interactions and calls to action (likes, comments, stories, story replies, polls, shares, retweets)
  2. Carousel/gallery style (feature detailed information on an ADHD topic across multiple (up to 10) Instagram tiles)
  3. Infographic/visual stimulus (small amount of information on social tile, relies on visual stimulus, easily digestible) 

In total, across the nine weeks from the 1st of April to the 27th May I:

  • Produced seven gallery style posts on Instagram
  • Produced four infographic/visual stimulus posts on Instagram 
  • Welcomed 52 new Instagram followers to @letstalkaboutadhd
  • Expanded my brand to Facebook and garnered 91 likes/followers
  • Expanded my brand to Twitter and garnered 41 followers and significant engagement on my posts 
  • Found a welcoming and flourishing ADHD community on Twitter and engaged significantly with others on the platform 
  • Posted to Twitter (Tweet, Re-tweet and replies) 84 times 
  • Created a new logo and header for the Let’s Talk About ADHD brand/socials

Because of this consistent approach and expansion, Let’s Talk About ADHD saw significant metric progression in the months of April and May. I trialled the social media intelligence tool Sprout to track any insights and metric fluctuation; April’s posts and associated metrics can be viewed here

Using Sprout, the following post report on all of Let’s Talk About ADHD’s socials was created for the month of May (please note that the most recent post had only just been published and thus is not an accurate metric analysis): 

Using Sprout, the following aggregate profile and page metrics from the reporting period of May 1st – May 25th compared to April 6th to April 30th were generated: 

When comparing April to May, across most metrics, Let’s Talk About ADHD saw substantial growth. The brand published 55 posts, grew it’s audience by 432 and saw engagements rise by 905 per cent. Notably, the engagement rate per impression did drop from 11 percent to 7.1 per cent. The reason for this drop is unknown, however fluctuation of this rate will continue to be closely monitored. 

The next two years:

Changing consumer tastes and needs mean a brand can’t afford to stay stagnant. When business owners don’t continually plan for the future, it’s a sign that they’ll face a lower growth potential and an unsteady future as a result. 

To be successful, over the course of the next two to five years, I intend to continue growing and expanding my business. By implementing key tactics to ensure Let’s Talk About ADHD remains adaptable and ever-evolving, the business will be able to meet market demands. In line with industry trends and changes, the below two-year strategic plan for Let’s Talk About ADHD was created:

Image 9: Let’s Talk About ADHD – a 2-year snapshot
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

A discussion about the future of content creation and digital marketing:

There’s no question that content creation and digital marketing are two careers that exist in a rapidly evolving industry. In this podcast, I discuss the probable and imagined futures of my chosen careers. My DA’s coinciding contextual report will expand upon this discussion and make further links to futurology concepts and theories.

Audio segment 1: The Future of Content Creation and Digital Marketing
Source: Amelia Phelps | Soundcloud

Sources:

/https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbevis/2020/02/27/4-ways-to-plan-for-the-future-of-your-brand/?sh=cb9e67bc2d55

https://www.shopify.com.au/blog/business-plan-examples

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/01/27/the-future-of-growth-the-top-digital-marketing-trends-of-2021-explained/?sh=2f2d9be2572e

https://www.forbes.com/sites/henrydevries/2021/12/16/10-trends-for-digital-marketing-in-2022/?sh=672828f2755a

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/future-content-marketing

https://www.coredna.com/blogs/content-marketing-trends

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2021/08/25/the-future-of-content-could-be-more-interactive/?sh=5a97a0c16ffe

https://www.makeuseof.com/metaverse-worsen-effects-social-media/

https://digitalagencynetwork.com/is-the-metaverse-the-future-of-digital-marketing/

https://digitalbrandinginstitute.com/video-content-marketing/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2021/10/01/11-expert-predictions-on-the-future-of-video-marketing/?sh=1149c36e5a87

https://stevesammartino.com/what-is-a-futurist/ 

All good things must come to an end – a solemn goodbye to BCM325 live-tweeting

As part of the BCM325 subject, students are challenged with the task of engaging in live-tweeting sessions during weekly screenings of various sci-fi films.

Image: Collage of BCM325 screenings Week 6-11
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

The second half of the #BCM325 live-tweeting experience was quite different to the first. During my initial post about live-tweeting, I explained the challenges I encountered throughout the first five screenings – these included difficulties with Twitter word limits, scheduling Tweets, garnering engagement with my posts and paying attention to the film while still actively engaging in the live discussion and commentary. This post intends to discuss how I countered these challenges (in both the written and audio segment), noteworthy class engagements during live-tweeting for week’s six to ten of this semester and how my overall live-tweeting experience has engaged in thinking about the future and the representation of the future and its reality. 

Week six

Week six’s screening was Jake Schreier’s “Robot and Frank” (2012). In attempt to improve my live-tweeting experience, I implemented changes suggested during my last post. I decided to tackle my biggest challenge with live-tweeting – my inability to properly concentrate on the movie and simultaneously make connections to lecture concepts – up front while tweeting. I tried my hand at building up a cache of pre-written tweets the night before and scheduling them via Tweet Deck in effort to actively view the movie and generate memetic and timely tweets that would hopefully garner greater engagement. The end result? Not quite as desired. 

While I was able to easily meet the 10-tweet quota and felt less-stressed than I typically have during previous screenings, my tweets received little to no engagement. Though this isn’t the focus or purpose of the live-tweeting experience, I felt a little disheartened that my re-worked contributions fell flat. A possible explanation for this lack of engagement may be that I struggled to produce introspective and valid tweets without having seen the film’s content. Still, I produced some tweets which touched on the week’s lecture concepts of Artificial Intelligence (how it is represented in pop culture/predictions and revolutions), technological determinism, death and the future of technology:

My tweets linked concepts explored during the highly relevant ‘Artificial Intelligence: Predictions and Revolutions’ lecture. In particular, my following tweet echoed Spyros Makridakis’ critical question relating to the future of AI: “what will the role of humans be at a time when computers and robots can perform as well or better and much cheaper, practically all tasks that humans do at present?”. 

When viewing “Robot and Frank”, it became clear that the film provides a critique of technological determinism (through Frank’s initial rejection and eventual acceptance of the robot’s help) and reflects Mandrakis’ future prediction that robots will help eschew humanity of mundane tasks. The film demonstrated that determinism can unavoidably place technology in a position of great control over society, causing individuals (like Frank) to feel powerless in the face of turbulent societal technological advancement.

“As intelligent machines gradually take over making the kinds of decisions that humans have previously been required to make, the unintended consequences will begin to manifest and magnify, making humans even more dependent on machines and pushed outside of critical decision-making processes entirely.”

Christopher Moore, Week 6 lecture.

The below thread highlights a light-hearted observation I made regarding the reality of technological progression:

I retweeted Kira’s post and liked Pia’s as they shared similar sentiments about Frank’s initial apprehension to conform to his society’s reliance on and use of AI:

Week Eight 

Week eight’s screening of Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” saw to one of my most rewarding (based on engagements) live-tweeting experiences across the entirety of this semester. I decided not to schedule my tweets and rather focused on the production of a combination of multimedia/memetic style and serious/analytical tweets (a suggestion I made in my first post). This variation of tweets is the likely explanation as to why I received significantly greater engagement on my posts when compared to previous weeks. When analysing Arrival, I attempted to relate the lecture concepts of futurists and decision-making, however I also opened a can of worms in relation to the heavy thematic presence of communication (and linguistic barriers) in the film. 

I enjoyed Natalie’s tweet as she shared like-minded commentary on the importance of communication, not just with extra-terrestrial species, but with all humans who currently inhabit Earth:

Upon reflection of week eight’s tweets, I see that I could have improved the quality of my discussion by making further connections to subject materials such as the work of Wendell Bell in relation to (fear of) possible futures (the arrival of ‘intruders’ on Earth) and Joachim of Fiore’s theory (Arrival challenges this theory through the use of non-linear time). The latter connection was articulated (arguably?) poorly by me:

It was also pointed out by some of my peers – this can be seen in the below tweets I interacted with:

Week Nine 

Week nine covered cyborgs and was a standout lecture topic for my BCM325 experience. However, when it came to the live tweeting about James Cameron’s “Alita: Battle Angel”, it didn’t go over as has hoped. I was unwell that day but completed a late screening later that night, which left me with limited engagement opportunities. 

Marshall McLuhan has made comment on the already existing, symbiotic relationship between technology and our bodies. The philosopher cited that all technologies are “extensions of our physical and nervous systems to increase power and speed”; he emphasised that understanding we are already cyborgs is the first step in understanding the concept of cyborg. 

My tweets and interactions echoed opinions and modes of thinking about the future of humanity made by McLuhan, Haraway (gender) and other cyberneticists and cybertheorists:

My peers and I also ruminated on the inexplicably complex topic of what it means to be human and surmised at what point people stop being fundamentally ‘human’ and become classified as ‘cyborg’:

I also published some conversational, memetic and question-based tweets to ensure variety and invite engagement:

Week Ten 

In this week, we explored cyberspace and virtual reality in Steven Spielburg’s “Ready Player One”. I really enjoyed this screening – I made and observed several connections between the film and lecture concepts (such as OASIS, cyberspace and cyberculture) in my tweets:

I admit I may have fallen short during this live tweeting session – I didn’t make a great deal of effort to interact with tweets made earlier in the day and upon reflection, can see my own tweets were lacking substance. I could have made more explicit connections with the subject content, such as referencing the work of William Gibson, who has demonstrated that cyberspace is a lived reality – one that we are all immersed in.

I retweeted Alex’s post which made a nice link between Ready Player One, cyberspace and escapism through the lens of Gibson:

I also interacted with Pia’s tweet as she (and Chris) identified an important paradox regarding Deleuze’s notion of “virtual” as outlined in our week ten lectures

I’m not able to discuss week 11’s content due to word count restrictions however, I discussed some my week 11 tweets and improvements in the below audio segment.

The live tweeting experience has certainly been instrumental in how we can engage in future thinking and the representation of the future in pop culture and media . This short podcast details my final thoughts and expands upon reflections made in this post. See you all next time!

Audio: “My BCM325 live-tweeting critical evaluation” | SoundCloud
Image: Amelia Phelps | Canva

#Iamnotatrend – how social media perpetuates ADHD misinformation and stigmatisation

Image 1: “If you feel like your phone thinks you have ADHD – it’s not just you.”
Source: Amelia Phelps, Canva.

#ADHD has been trending online since early 2021, with social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram disseminating short clips and bite-sized chunks of information that receive billions of views. This viral content poses an interesting dichotomy; platforms are spreading ADHD and mental health awareness and building community but are also generating further stigmatisation, contributing misinformation and encouraging self-diagnosis based on stereotypes. Is this changing scope of health information on social media a help or hinderance?   

COVID-19 furthered western civilisation’s reliance on and use of social media. As healthcare transitioned to online, millions of people around the world became accustomed to accessing healthcare information and services in the discretion of their own homes. Though, during lockdown it wasn’t just COVID-19-related healthcare that people were searching for; the pandemic encouraged an adaptable new wave of online content and content creators. 

Confined to four walls for months on end, scrolling online perfectly suited our mood of low-key dissatisfaction during last year’s lockdowns. And so, as pandemic-borne trends like easily-replicable dances, food hacks and chatter surrounding mental ill health and attention-related disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) gained traction on social media, relatable teens and unassuming characters became popular millionaire TikTok influencers and newfound Instagram “educators” almost overnight. 

While the explosion of interest in ADHD online may have skyrocketed during the height of the pandemic, user-generated content about ADHD still remains one of the most popular health topics – across multiple social media platforms and online servers. The #ADHD channel on TikTok has garnered an impressive 11.2 billion (yes, BILLION) views to date, Instagram has over two million posts with ADHD tagged and Twitter its own blooming ADHD community. Searches for “ADHD” are at an all-time high according to Google Trends, with queries like “how to get diagnosed with ADHD in adults Australia” having received a 4,150 per cent boost in search frequency since 2017. 

Video 1: viral TikTok by @adhdbaddiewithafatty about their personal experience with ADHD

This digital spotlight has led to a radical increase in ADHD awareness – which proved crucial during a period when more people, of whom sought community and education in their confinement, were (and still are) being diagnosed. But there are issues inherent to any mental health condition becoming #trendy; ADHD’s precipitous popularity online begets misinformation and has contributed to the trivialisation and stigmatisation of what is already a deeply misunderstood and inexplicably complex neurological condition. 

This problematic dichotomy has been the topic of increasingly contentious online discourse of recent. Participants include ADHD’ers themselves (me!) of whom – despite contributing to the never-ending slew of posts by discussing having to deal with, actively avoid and debate the appropriateness of the oversaturation of ADHD content – have reached their wits’ end. 

The hard numbers; just how misinformed is this ADHD content?

An inaugural study published this year has revealed that of the top 100 most popular (based on no. of views and likes per video) videos (on July 18, 2021) about ADHD uploaded by TikTok creators, 52 were classified as misleading, 27 as personal experience and 21 as useful. The main culprits of this misinformation? Non-healthcare providers – who made up 89 of the 100 videos. The other 11 were published by “individuals who identified as HCP’s”. Perhaps most concerning, “none of the misleading videos recommended viewers to seek out a medical, psychiatric, or psychological assessment before attributing these symptoms to ADHD,” the study explained.

These findings provide several important insights into the dissemination of medical information about ADHD on TikTok and the consequences of this misinformation – chiefly being that the content has the potential to contribute to health anxiety and lead to increased healthcare utilisation and the possibility that individuals may be misattributing difficulties experienced from pandemic public health measures to symptoms of ADHD.

@adhdvision

Still bruised from Nr. 1😄..if you have over 8, u might want to look to get officially diagnosed. #adhd #adhdawareness

♬ Tell Me Something Good – Ewan McVicar
Video 2: Example of ADHD misinformation on TikTok.

 While there is (to my knowledge) no existing study on the current level of misinformation spreading on Instagram or Twitter at current, it took just a minute of my scrolling to find suspect ADHD content on the platforms and a quick search online to find heated debate about the pros and cons of TikTok’s poor regulation of this content.

Image 2: Tweet by @AdhdAngsty
Image 3: Tweet by Craig_ADHD

A double-edged sword: the pros and cons of #ADHD trending

As with any information or topic that has previously been thrust into the digital limelight, there have been clear benefits and risks to ADHD trending online. 

Some notable pros and cons include:

PROS

  • ADHD trending has made strategies for dealing with the disorder openly accessible as, though in fewer numbers, the cadre of new online content creators includes licensed psychiatrists and therapists who freely distribute professional advice.
  • The increased visibility of ADHD during the pandemic has reduced mental health stigma and has led to an increase in genuine diagnoses. 
  • ADHD social media has led to more self-diagnosis of ADHD – while this is concerning, professionals believe self-diagnosis can be the first step toward an answer (however have emphasised that self-diagnosis shouldn’t be a final solution). 

CONS

  • Social media platforms have confused unqualified content creators with healthcare professionals and experts.
  • Social media has perpetuated ADHD stereotypes and stigma – ADHD TikTok’s are proven to do more harm than good.
  • Social media has oversimplified ADHD and fails to recognise the many nuances and complexities involved with the serious neurodevelopmental disorder. 
  • ADHD misinformation has done a disservice to people who truly have ADHD by undermining the ADHD experience, thus lowering the credibility of the diagnosis.
  • #ADHD trending has encouraged self-diagnosis based on generalisations – there is great debate about whether self-diagnosis is as valid as receiving a formal diagnosis. Regardless of this argument, self-diagnosis does present the very real threat of an individual becoming attached to a diagnosis prior to receiving professional assessment and subsequently closing themselves off to seeking other treatment opportunities or finding the right diagnosis.

What people can do to combat and counter ADHD misinformation:

As with all trends, what goes up, must come down. While ADHD remains a popular topic on social media, the hashtags and conversation will inevitably shift focus. When the platforms and their users do find their newest mental health condition to romanticise, those of us with ADHD will stay behind, fighting to float in the cavernous depths of this undeniably esoteric and painfully unsupported disorder.

For now, social media users need to be more discerning when it comes to taking mental health advice from internet strangers and unprofessionals. A good start is to access information from accredited resources and personnel:

Journalist’s fighting the good fight:

Fleur Connick – The Silent Suffering of Women with ADHD

Noelle Faulkner – The lost girls: ‘Chaotic and curious, women with ADHD all have missed red flags that haunt us’

Jason Wilson – being diagnosed with ADHD in my 40s has given me something quite magical

Looking for a positive influence?

How to ADHD – YouTube

@adhdcoachsheila – TikTok

@thepsychdoctormd – TikTok

@attitudemag – Instagram

@letstalkaboutadhd – Instagram (shameless self-plug)

@adhd_alien – Twitter

CHADD – socials

Beyond social media:

ADHD, social media and self-regulation

The ADDitude Directory

ADHD Australia – Resources and Support

ADHD Foundation Australia

Checkout my chatter on this topic in the below tweets:

The Future of Let’s Talk About ADHD – Part 1

Listen to the article here:

Image 1: Screenshot of @letstalkaboutadhd Instagram

For my BCM325 Digital Artifact, I intend to produce a business plan that will span across a three-part blog series. The plan will address the short-term future of my brand – Let’s Talk About ADHD – and personal career. Part 1 includes a brand description and vision statement, SWOT table analysis, content calendar for April of 2022 and a post and profile metric performance report.

What is @letstalkaboutadhd?

“Let’s Talk About ADHD” is a brand that produces and promotes educational content regarding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). So far comprised of an Instagram and Twitter account and a Facebook page, Let’s Talk About ADHD was created for the purpose of generating greater ADHD awareness – with the niche objective of educating people about the underdiagnosis of women and adult’s with ADHD in Australia.

The @letstalkaboutadhd Instagram is currently the brand’s primary social media platform – the account disseminates a variety of modern, heavily researched content regarding ADHD. ADHD misinformation is rife on social media at present, with myths and under-researched content spreading like wildfire. Run by a journalist diagnosed with ADHD, @letstalkaboutadhd intends to counter this disinformation by offering factual and accurate content, backed by an accredited journalist’s approach to research and content creation.

Founded in New South Wales, Australia, the “Let’s Talk About ADHD” brand is owned and run by journalist and social media manager Amelia Phelps. Amelia was diagnosed with combined type ADHD in 2020 and dedicated much of her degree in journalism and public relations to researching and writing about the neurodevelopmental disorder. Having interviewed and acquired knowledge from numerous leading ADHD specialists and researchers, Amelia has developed a profound, holistic and personal understanding of ADHD. 

Given that 1 in 20 Australians have ADHD and awareness of and referrals for the disorder continue to increase, there’s an evident market for digital ADHD content creation. As ADHD does not discriminate, neither does Let’s Talk About ADHD – who’s target audience is anyone interested in or connected to the ADHD/neurodiverse community. The account’s content does assume a secondary level of comprehension/education, however, offers easily digestible, bite-sized chunks of information – tailored toward an ADHD audience. 

Dual-pronged, this business plan will create a two-year trajectory that will see to a gradual increase in the reach and exposure of the brand’s content to achieve greater ADHD awareness and will help to build a supportive and inclusive online community for the neurodiverse and their allies. Two separate monthly content schedules for April and May have provided and continue to provide an element of accountability and also serve as a method to track and analyse the Instagram account’s metric progression -which will offer an ongoing feedback loop.

A SWOT analysis of Let’s Talk About ADHD:

Image 2: SWOT analysis of Let’s Talk About ADHD
Source: Amelia Phelps | Canva

(S) Strengths (W) Weaknesses (O) Opportunities (T) Threats

Strengths:

  • Location – based in Australia, where the need for greater ADHD awareness and improved diagnostic/treatment rates is high and where a gap in the market of educational/ADHD social media platforms exists.
  • Employee/founder – all content published via Let’s Talk About ADHD is produced by a professional journalist and social media manager, so the content is thoroughly researched, current and based on facts and experience. This sets the brand apart from others of a similar nature as very few have the accredited research skills to produce such content.
  • Extremely tech-savvy – producing digital content and working online is deeply embedded in the founder’s university education, so further establishing an online presence won’t be a challenge and will not require any external support/costs.
  • Culture – though it may be small, @letstalkaboutadhd has already developed and continues to develop a highly interactive, inclusive and supportive following.

Weaknesses:

  • New brand – the brand doesn’t yet have the reputation or capital of other competitors.
  • Solo-run/time-poor – as the brand is new, the founder is the sole proprietor and creator of the content so is tasked with researching, creating, generating and publishing all content on an individual-level. 
  • Aesthetic/style is still being prototyped – which may infringe on the consistency and current presentation of the brand/content but will eventually turn into a strength as a well-researched and established profile.

Opportunities:

  • Fast growth – the demand and popularity of ADHD/Autism awareness and advocacy platforms continues to increase.
  • Niche in the market – few ADHD Journalists who are producing this style of content within this field.
  • Cross-platform – expansion of brand to produce and publish a variety of content across numerous social media platforms will create a holistic presentation of the brand.

Threats:

  • Competition – There exists a strong portfolio of competition in the market, with many well-established, international brands advocating for ADHD on the platform . 
  • Market misinformation and distrust – ADHD misinformation on social media platforms (particularly TikTok and Instagram) is rampant at the moment, meaning it may be hard to break through the stigma and generate a solid audience/following. 

@letstalkaboutadhd April content calendar:

The content calendar is comprised mostly of suggestions from followers via a game of “This and That” on Instagram. @letstalkaboutadhd has continued to publish this game on Instagram at the start of each month to promote audience engagement – in order produce content that aligns with audience values and interests. 

Image 3: @letstalkaboutadhd Instagram content calendar for April 2022
Images 4 through 9: @letstalkaboutadhd Instagram story screenshots

Baseline metrics:

Having primarily adhered to the above content schedule, Let’s Talk About ADHD has begun to produce and publish content on a consistent basis and has already seen some metric progression throughout April (when compared to the following month and previous posts) across all social media profiles. Let’s Talk About ADHD intends to consistently monitor their metric data to identify progression and monitor fluctuation. 

Using Sprout, the following post report on all of Let’s Talk About ADHD socials was created for the month of April:

Profile Performance report (April 1, 2022 – May 2, 2022)

Using insights from Instagram, as well as Sprout, the following profile performance report on the Let’s Talk About ADHD socials was created for the month of April:

Audience Metrics

Total audience: 368

Total Net Audience Growth

Twitter Net Follower Growth: 12

Facebook Net Page Likes: 56

Instagram Net Follower Growth: 53 (+19.2%)

Overall impressions: 3,691 (+ 2,221.4%)

Overall engagements: 298 (+4,157.1%) 

Engagement rate per impression: 8.1% (+83.4%)

Engagement Rate (per impression) is the number of times during the reporting period that users engaged with your posts as a percentage of impressions. This indicates how engaged people are with your brand.

Sprout Social

Instagram Insights (April 5 – May 4):

Accounts reached: 423 (+243%) (142 followers, 277 non-followers)

Reached audience:

Images 10 through 13: Instagram Insight graphs (reached audience) for @letstalkaboutadhd

Accounts engaged: 57 (+850%) (37 followers, 20 non-followers)

Content Interactions: 123 (+1,657%)

Profile visits: 112 (+124%)

Post Interactions: 120 (90 likes, 5 comments, 14 saves, 2 shares)

Of all content interactions, story interactions were the only to fall, coming in at 3, a 57.2% decrease from the month prior

Follower Growth:

Image 20: Instagram insight graph (growth) for @letstalkaboutadhd
Resources that aren’t linked:

https://www.business.qld.gov.au/starting-business/planning/market-customer-research/swot-analysis/conducting

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/business-plan-executive-summary-example-2948007

https://business.gov.au/planning/business-plans/develop-your-business-plan

https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan

Social media’s dangerous aestheticisation of sustainability

Sustainability is on the rise and now, in 2022, green consumption can be considered trending. As the world continues to recognise and feel the impact(s) of climate change, the number of shoppers wanting to reduce their impact on the planet, people and animals continues to increase. In line with this demand, western civilisation has ironically birthed a most grandiose and perfunctory “green movement” – with social media being its beating heart.

Sustainability is the balance between the environment, equity, and economy.

UCLA Sustainability.

Sustainable development is developments that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

UN World Commission on Environment and Development.

The digital world has seen social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and now TikTok become central networking hubs for conversations regarding climate change and ecology in recent years. This dialogue has played and continues to play a crucial role in how these topics are addressed, both inside and outside of said respective platforms. A concerning paradox – social media is used as an indispensable tool for educating people about the importance of sustainability and sustainable practices yet has given rise to a slew of greenwashing trends and hashtags (think fast fashion’s “conscious collections” and #eco-friendly) that have dominated the discourse of climate change.

This report intends to analyse the role social media plays in the perpetuation of aesthetic sustainability and aims to discuss how this is detrimental to true climate activism.

Aesthetic Sustainability: a brief case study

The past four years, namely 2020, set the scene for climate change responsibility and saw improved sustainable efforts on an individual level. Social media galvanised this green movement by offering a universal space for open, passionate discourse on the topic and through its use of influencers as powerful marketing tools to share brand stories, create communities and promote products.

While this increased widespread awareness may seem an impressive feat, there are consequences to social media’s influence on sustainable development. The metal straw movement is a demonstrative example of this dichotomy; it highlights how social media can help to solidify the online presence and popularity of sustainable items and discussions surrounding plastic waste, but also reveals the implications of reshaping a real, serious issue into a familiar aesthetic.

The metal straw movement

The straw has been around for some 5,000 years, dating back in the U.S. to the use of rye grass straws in the 1880s. Reusable straws aren’t a new concept either, with original wholesalers dating back over a decade. In 2008 though, business was much slower – the demand for reusable straws and a reduction of single-use plastics was catalysed by a 2015 video of a marine biologist extracting a plastic straw from the nostril of a live sea turtle. The video, which has 108.8 million views to date, received global attention and garnered significant support for the metal straw movement. A shorter, more shareable, version of the video was later released and social media rapidly turned the turtle into the “anti-plastic straw” poster child.

The viral video gave the metal straw movement legs; after it was posted (10/08/2015), Google Searches for both “plastic straws” and “metal straws” spiked across Australia and searches for “plastic straws” saw a significant global increase. Searches for “metal straws”  continued to fluctuate and gradually increased for three years ensuing until, in 2018-2019, the movement erupted as global searches for the accessory peaked. Possible factors that may have contributed to this peak include localised campaigns and promotions in hospitality venues, online campaigns (e.g. Lonely Whale’s #StopSucking) to encourage national and international single-use plastic bans and the advent of the “VSCO girl” aesthetic on TikTok (which projected an image of sustainability as being inextricably tied to owning eco-friendly products like metal straws).

Image 1: Google Trends: “Plastic Straws” Interest over past 5 years, Australia.

All of sudden, metal straws were hot commodities – they had become the ultimate symbol for environmental consciousness.  In what can only be deemed misguided acts of performative activism, influencers and celebrities posted an unyielding stream of videos and pictures sporting reusable straws, paired with captions that insisted plastic straws were responsible for ocean pollution and were effectively, killing turtles. Hashtags like #ecofriendly, #DitchTheStraw and #BeatPlasticPollution dominated the internet and soon enough, major companies heeded the global conversation and hurriedly adopted their own sustainable – though mostly superficially conscientious – online discourse. Various countries and states followed suit, as one by one, their governments pledged to abandon single-use plastics and enacted bans.

Image 2: YouTuber and social media influencer Emma Chamberlain sporting reusable straws and accessories on her YouTube channel.
Image 3: Social media influencer Bretman Rock promoting metal straws on his Instagram.

The consequences of real issues becoming online trends

As more and more people flaunted metal straws dangling from their lips on social media, what began as a modest movement turned into a worldwide trend and eventual unavoidable habit. Dialogue surrounding plastic waste was drowned out by incessant, fashionable posts of metal, silicone and bamboo straws.

The increased demand didn’t go unnoticed; global retail giants, fast fashion companies and high street brands have all taken to the desirable business case aesthetic sustainability presents. In this scenario, in order to satisfy the new customer needs and generate revenue, local shops, supermarkets and high-end stores all rushed to produce a larger green portfolio by filling their shelves and racks with stylish, “eco-friendly” products. Entirely commercialised, the metal straw became easy-to-access and millions of consumers chose the path of least resistance and purchased the accessory. Misguided by the item’s reigning online aesthetic and reusable premise, not only did retailers and consumers of the product fail to recognise the ecological impacts of the mass distribution of these straws but were able to easily feel absolved of further social responsibility regarding plastic consumption.

With every purchase, the ubiquity of the trend was furthered and the core message of sustainability and helping the planet was diluted. Just as quickly as the metal straw movement had come into the limelight, did it suffer immense online backlash and dissipate into little more than a fad.

But sustainability isn’t fashionable and it certainly isn’t meant to be photogenic; the sheer scale and severity of ocean pollution and climate change (think Great Pacific Garbage Patch, dwindling icecaps and lowering PH levels in the ocean) cannot be conveyed in a 320px by 1080 px image or within a 180-word tweet.

Herein lies the true consequence of social media aestheticising a genuine issue. By watering down important issues into bite-sized, easily-digestible chunks, social media creates a narrative that implies resolutions to these issues can be just as minute – such as purchasing a $3 metal straw to counter the ecological behemoth that is ocean pollution (certainly not the best solution). This distorted mindset is real and can render serious issues vulnerable to the same backlash and criticisms that drive hairstyles and fashion looks out of style every year.

What should journalists do?

It’s important to note that society’s struggle with aestheticising serious issues is no one person’s or demographic’s fault – those who own metal straws or partook in the hashtag challenges cannot be blamed for how social media caused the rise and fall of the metal straw. It is rather, an example of how deeply engrained western culture’s reliance on, and daily use of, social media is.

As social media continues to infiltrate every facet of our lives, in seemingly more and more intimate spaces, journalists and other media professionals must question its role in shifting conversations and how easily these platforms can dictate what issues are viewed as important and popular in mainstream society. Social media’s relationship with sustainability and climate activism can be symbiotic but it’ll be a long process – one that has to start with a big wake up call and a widespread attempt to take accountability for the current state of things.

A ‘mixed’ BCM325 live-tweeting experience.

As part of the BCM325 subject, students are challenged with the task of engaging in live-tweeting sessions during weekly screenings of various sci-fi films. 

As this is the first BCM subject that I’ve studied since my first year of university, I felt a little under-prepared for the task of live-tweeting. The experience so far has been an interesting, albeit humbling, one I admit. 

While this post intends to highlight the best of tweets and interactions resulting from the live-tweeting sessions I’ve engaged in so far, I believe it important to first take a brief look at some of the poorer quality tweets I’ve produced, to see the improvement and progression I’ve made so far across this semester. 

The very first screening, 2001: a space odyssey, saw me scrambling together a means to access the movie and a last-ditch attempt to remember my Twitter account details. I sat through the movie, overwhelmed, inattentive and unable to balance achieving the ‘ten tweets per screening’ quota with actively viewing the movie. It was a bit of a chaotic start to the semester to say the least and the tweets I published in Week 1 evidently reflect this:

They are misguided; using vague terminology and references, the tweets fail to engage with subject/lecture content and are mostly passive in their approach. While I did post some that included links to further resources and research, I felt at the time that I was almost copy-catting my peers and posting ramblings to meet the set quota. As a result, the tweets received minimal engagement and did not generate any discussion worth including.

The same can be said of my second round of live-tweeting, which was on West World (1973). Again, I was underprepared. However, as I had felt zoned out during the first screening, I made certain that I paid attention to this film. As a result, I became more focused on enjoying the movie, rather than producing the ten minimum tweets or engaging in discussion through commenting on other peer’s tweets. The resulting tweets were rushed and encourage only surface-level analysis. I did receive slightly better engagement during this screening compared to the previous weeks and this may be attributed to my use of question and postulation to invite discussion. 

Week three’s viewing of Blade Runner: the final cut (1882) was a game changer for the quality of my live-tweeting experience. It saw to the acceleration of my peer engagement, as I started to grasp a much greater understanding of the purpose of the task and the methods by which I could produce my content. I prioritised engaging in convivial discussions with my peers, rather than meeting the ten-tweet quota. 

By curating tweets, images and topical discussion points prior to the screening, I was better able to focus my attention on the subject matter of the movie and actively engage in peer discussion. I also found that through developing a solid understanding of the movie’s plot, characters and main themes before viewing the film, I was able to conduct more insightful analysis and thus provide more valuable commentary. 

A word doc containing pre-screening preparation for live-tweeting.

However, I noticed that at times my tweets were so long, people weren’t interested in interacting, especially during a high point of the movie. Tweets full to character limit of useful information, as opposed to those with a gif or image, were more likely to be pushed to the side and lost in the Twitter void. If I posted more than 2-3 tweets over a short period (such as my threads that were posted within 1-3 mins of each other), they would get lost under a mountain of other tweets and peers wouldn’t bother responding – retweeting my original tweets wasn’t an effective solution either. The drafted tweets were informative and somewhat reflective of lecture concepts and content, however the writing style may have been too formal and inorganic to be inviting for engagement.  

While my drafted tweets still gained attention, I found that my irreverent, memetic and more succinct tweets garnered more engagement. They were relevant to the film, less-wordy than some of my drafted tweets and were published in a matter of seconds in reaction to the film. Tweets that posed a question, drew a comparison, or contained a quote generated much more attention than other tweets. 

During the initial weeks of live-tweeting, I struggled to link my tweets to Future Culutres lecture content, however, during my most recent screening – Ghost in the Shell (1995) – I found a lot more ease in the process. I made sure to implement the improvements I had noted during previous weeks and so produced a series of succinct, introspective tweets. I focused more on engaging in commentary on other tweets rather than producing my own.

I also attempted to produce a poll for my peers to engage in and was rather hopeful it’d be a hit, however it received just one vote… my own! I’m not sure why the poll lacked engagement as other peer’s polls seem to benefit greatly from multiple interactions, but I will try the method again in upcoming screenings.

Unfortunately, I was absent for week five’s screening of ‘The Matrix (1999)’ and so missed out on the opportunity to live-tweet. I intend to view the screening so that I’m able to identify any valuable links and references to the film in upcoming screenings. 

The future of my live-tweeting experience: a future cultures ramble.

References:

PromoRepublic. 2021. What Is Live Tweeting and How to Do It Successfully. [online] Available at: <https://promorepublic.com/en/blog/glossary/what-is-live-tweeting/&gt; [Accessed 30 March 2022].