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Have you ever wondered to what extent social networks have changed and will change our society? What power do they exert on us and how the awareness of it can help to concretise our hunting profile and to position us convincingly? To put one thing right at the beginning: I don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of using Instagram, Facebook and Co. But I will never get tired of pointing out that we hunters, as a small minority with sensitive content, have a special responsibility. It is up to us to defend the legitimacy of hunting through our daily actions and to prove to the non-hunting majority why hunting is systemically relevant and indispensable. Social Media is the first choice instrument to achieve this goal. We should use it reasonably and wisely.
Personally, I find networking with people who share similar interests a great enrichment. It is not even primarily the accounts with the widest coverage that particularly fascinate me, but rather those of the microinfluencer with a few thousand followers, who express their passion through moving experiences, appealing imagery or good story- telling and show only a limited commercialization of their content. It should be authentic, honest and real. In the self-created comfort zone of our social bubble, the far-reaching influence that social networks have on our society can easily be forgotten. People tend to drift effortlessly in the stream of new features and technological achievements without consciously dealing with the mechanisms used by social media and that unconsciously but decisively influence our thinking, feeling and acting. Not only do we see ourselves confronted with direct effects on our very personal sense of identity, but we are also faced with a profound change in our social structures.
The hunt delivers credible content that is in line with the current way of thinking, but we always have to be aware that we are also telling stories that can be sometimes very polarizing. As soon as the death of a living being comes into play, understanding ceases in our increasingly urban, nature-alienated society. We should take this as an opportunity to take a differentiated look at the structural change that social networks bring with them and to adapt the content of our strategic communication with non-hunters to the changed framework conditions.
Institutions put to the test
Instead of media, one speaks today of “intermediaries”, which is basically a collective term for something as diverse as search engines, social networks, news aggregators , user-generated content or blogging. Intermediaries thus include all media that are used for the procurement, selection, presentation, forwarding or evaluation of information. They are essential elements of our communication and information behavior. The power potential of social platforms is obvious.
Social media permeates all social areas.
In the analogue age, the conventional mass media were the exclusive mediators of information and naturally also had the authority to interpret its relevance. Social media calls this institution into question and urges a redefinition of the associated norms, rules and processes. The social networks also influence the basic business model and thereby the financing of the mass media and journalism. It is not surprising that we have seen the importance of mass media decline during the last years. The recognition and right to exist of journalism and, above all, its selection principles are fundamentally called into question. Terms such as “lying press” or “system media” are no coincidence and are not just simple criticism of content. Instead, they are designed to put the legitimacy of an institution to the test or even to undermine it entirely.
Nothing is for free
It is legitimate and understandable to search for information that is available for free. Why should we pay for journalistic content when we have a multitude of information sources available on the Internet that we can freely access? Of course it is a fallacy that Facebook, Twitter and Co. make their services available to us free of charge. All that has been established is new ways of payment and a new currency. Access to the social networks is only granted to users after they have concluded a user agreement with the platform operator. We do not pay for the services with money, but with our data and in the currency of followers, likes, retweets, contacts or posts.
The business models of the digital world are based on our data and are considered a decisive factor for the economic success of a company.
No wonder that the top positions in the ranking of the most valuable companies measured by stock market value are occupied by big tech companies (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon) 1 . It is our data that makes it so successful. The power these companies gain as a result is unquestionable.
Far-reaching social changes
The new institutional structure and the fact that the processes of opinion and decision-making take place in the intermediary media create a changed starting position for our communication. This fundamentally changes the processes of social communication. Nowadays, social networks shape public opinion. The content with which we hunters fill the platforms therefore has far-reaching consequences for our acceptance and recognition by the general public. In Germany, it is not about 0.5% of hunters who decide about their future, but 99.5% of non-hunters. We must never forget that. The exchange with like-minded people is right at the top of our list when it comes to the reasons why we use Soial Media, but it would be naive to think that we are not also ambassadors for the hunt at all times. Each and every one of us should feel called to do justice to this task.
The social networks have meanwhile replaced the mass media as an institution.
They offer a distinct culture of participation that goes beyond classic hierarchies and rigid patterns. Freedom of expression also benefits from the permeability of the structures. Everyone can participate and post their own unfiltered content online. The users are involved and can actively participate in the discourse. First of all, that is a democratic gain that has to be appreciated. However, the great democratic expectations that the establishment of the Internet brought with it could not be fully met. Meanwhile, the major challenges and problems paint a different picture and a certain disillusionment has spread. Topics such as hate speech, data security, social bots, trolls, identity theft, cookies, personal rights, the right to be forgotten, cyber attacks etc. override the advantages of social participation. Above all, the possible manipulation of public opinion through deliberately changed algorithms should make us think. It can deliberately falsify the perception of reality and make it difficult to convey authentic and honest content.
“Future first ” – trends determine our communication
In order to place our messages successfully and sustainably, we should keep an eye on the major trends that influence our communication on social media.
“Amazon is committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet. In 2019, Amazon co-founded the Climate Pledge – a commitment to be net zero carbon across our business by 2040.” With the promise of climate-friendliness, the e-commerce giant Amazon is following one of the most important social media trends in 2021, namely the clear political positioning of companies and organizations. 2 Sustainability and “Future First” have become the top socio-economic principle of our time and the absolute political guard rails. With its extensive “green” range of responsibilities, the hunt can certainly survive in the complex structure of this transformation. For us hunters, the term sustainability is not just empty lip service, but we fill it with life in an impressive way every day. It is our urgent task to convey this comprehensive social contribution in the field of nature and species protection clearly and confidently to the non-hunting majority society.
We should use the common identity and the unifying values of the hunters as a stable foundation for uniform and strong communication with the outside world. Digital disinformation such as fake news and conspiracy theories have increased dramatically in the past. An additional, intense driver for this was the corona pandemic.
Nowadays, public discourses are unfortunately often not driven by factual information, but by ideologies and emotions.
This creates the impression that it is primarily a matter of establishing a worldview and not of conveying valid facts. Under these circumstances, it is a great challenge to strengthen our public acceptance and to make our messages heard. In order for this to succeed, we need a sustained dialogue with all relevant interest groups. Sustainable communication is characterized by appreciation, honesty and respect. 3 In connection with social media, I am primarily thinking of a positioning based on authentic content and topics as well as a pronounced willingness to dialogue with the aim of a factual and sensitive discussion on an equal footing. With the term “Verantwortungskommunikation” (responsible communication), Prof. Claudia Mast from the University of Hohenheim also coined an exciting approach. The focus is on a long-term communication perspective, which is increasingly shaped by the principles of dialogue, transparency and proactivity. I find it very suitable as a possible overriding leitmotif for the activities of the hunters in the social networks.
The hunt has the better arguments
The often poisoned climate for discussion on social media makes a factual discussion of hunting topics much more difficult. Many users are not interested in a real dialogue, but are primarily guided by their feelings and moods. The only way out of this dilemma is to return to a communication culture in which the best content contribution counts and not the strongest emotion. I am convinced that at the end of the day hunting has the better arguments.
1 https://www.finanzen100.de/top100/die-grossten-borsennotierten-unternehmen-der-welt/ (online access: 11.4.2021, 11:04 am)
2 https://smic-marketing.de/news-artikel/social-media-trends-2021 (online access: April 12, 2021, 8:30 am)
3 https://kresse-discher.de/blog/nachhaltig-kommuniegen/ (online access: April 11, 2021, 11:20 am)
https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/medien/wie-die-sozialen-netzwerke-die-gesellschaft-praegen-ld.1380183 (online: April 11, 2021, 2:42 pm)
Beitragsfoto: Vidar Nordli Mathisen auf unsplash