The afterlife of social media

26th February, 2015

Facebook sympathy

Social media has changed the way your customers live and organise their lives. It is part of their identity, part of how they connect with others, part of how they share the things they like.

If you want to be part of those connections, or one of those things that they share then you need to be there on the platforms they use and speaking to them about their interests. That’s how you can become part of how they think about themselves.

We can help you tell stories, share information and connect with your customers. We can place you as part of their life. And once you’re there they will help you become part of their networks’ lives.

If you are creating great content you need social media to reach those influencers who can amplify your voice.

If you are not creating great content, isn’t it time you started?

The afterlife of content is all those shares and links to your site that it goes on accruing after you have set the ball rolling. Social media is a great way to extend its afterlife.

But what of the afterlife of social media itself?

What happens to all those profiles we have set up? Do they carry on after our death? Who has control of them? What about all those highly personal images and memories captured amongst all that data: who has access to it?

Facebook’s recent announcement of a legacy account that allows you to nominate a friend or family member to manage your profile after your death really drove home to us just how important social media is in the lives of our customers today. It’s the social media equivalent of a will for managing our digital rather than financial assets.

Facebook has already offered relatives the option of ‘memorialising’ a profile’, whereby the deceased user no longer appears as a suggested friend, access to their profile is limited to existing friends and contact information, status updates and access to the account is removed. Myspace and Google offer something similar but Twitter only allows the family to deactivate an account.

Does death question the emotional power of social media?

Have you ever seen a post on Facebook and wanted to agree with its sentiment, or show your support, but to simply ‘Like’ it seems an inappropriate response?

There have been calls for the social networks to offer more flexibility in how we respond to posts, and nowhere is this more apparent than in responding to a death. Calls for a ‘Sympathy’ button, though, may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested that there is a definite need for users to respond more subtly and communicate emotions and relationships beyond a simple ‘Like’. Here’s what he said at the end of last year:

“Everyone feels like they can just push the 'Like' button, and that's an important way to empathize with someone, but there are times when you may want the simplicity of a one-click response, but a 'Like' doesn't feel appropriate.” (Quoted by Mashable)

Could this mean we may see ‘Sympathy’ buttons in the near future? Or how about buttons that indicate the strength of someone’s relationship with a brand: Like, Fan, Brand advocate? Time will tell.

Image source (above) 


Since writing, Facebook have rolled out the "Legacy Contact" into the UK, allowing an appointed friends or family members to have access to a loved one's account in the event of their death. The "heir" will be allowed to make one last post, change profile pictures and update profile information - there are additional permissions that can be granted to a "Legacy Contact" however they will not have access to private messages.

Click here for full up-to-date info on how to appoint your own Legacy contact

Updated 17/08/15

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