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‘The pandemic brought more authenticity to social media’



Group of people connected via social media
Bradley van der Straten, from the Netherlands, spends approximately three hours managing online groups every day

When, two years ago, Bradley van der Straten started a group on Whatsapp asking friends who regularly used Instagram to join him and comment on each other’s posts, he couldn’t have imagined what would happen a few months down the line: a global pandemic. From there, the 20-year-old from a province called Utrecht, in the Netherlands, turned this single group into over 200 pods gathering thousands of people around the world. He did all this while still being a student and working on a resort park during the holidays.

“Just a few months after launching my first group, Covid-19 began and, suddenly, I had to start asking people to help me manage the sheer amount of new people and groups joining us. The initial idea was to support each other, attempting to create a level of engagement that social media doesn’t give you easily. But, during the pandemic, it also became a place to meet new people because we couldn’t go anywhere.” – recalls Bradley.

Here, van der Straten talks to us about recruiting an online team to help as admins of groups formed by people, they will probably never meet in real life, avoiding social media burnout, and challenging the controversy surrounding gaming the engagement Instagram’s algorithm doesn’t let you have.


Which countries have the most active participants within your network groups and what are your participants looking for?

Most are from the Netherlands because that’s my country. The second most active country is the United Kingdom. It is very diverse, as we have accounts from 200 followers up to over a million.

Although there is no limit on the number of groups you can join, most people joining us end up participating, on average, in 8 different groups. They try to support each other by commenting on posts and sharing content. If we think a member is in too many groups, we avoid adding that person into other groups.


How many hours a day do you have to spend online to manage and reply to so many people?

It varies. When you have groups like ‘fashion’ you can easily invite several people daily. If you have a group in need of more active people, then you spend more time managing it. Nowadays, the groups are stable as members already know how it works. When, sometimes, a person sends you a DM asking, ‘Can I join another group?’ usually it is a yes because they are all organised by topics and running smoothly. But to answer your question about how many hours I spend managing groups and replying to people online, it is around 3 hours per day.


How do you manage so many groups at the same time and how do you avoid social media burnout?

We manage the groups as a team. In the beginning, with the network groups, it was a lot of checking to see if people were really supporting each other or not. Now that everything is more established, we don’t have many people messaging us. So, we have shifted the focus toward inviting new people and telling them how it works. If you don’t want social media burnout you have to allow yourself time away from Instagram.

I do this on Sundays. I switch off from social media to watch Netflix and do other things.


Are people engaging less, now, as lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions are coming to an end?

Yes. I have noticed people are not posting photos on Instagram as actively as before. Those back to work can’t spend as much time on social media platforms as we all spent last year. However, if they’re on holiday, they seem to be as active as ever on Instagram.


Aren’t network groups a controversial tool to grow on social media as it plays with organic engagement?

It’s true that some people see it as a tool and misuse it. But we want genuine members, to be the ones leaving genuine comments under a post, not bots. When you make an effort to comment something meaningful on social media, people are likely to automatically retribute it. My opinion is that you have support groups and network groups. I have chosen network groups because it is an opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of people, some of them within the same niche as me or living in the same country.


What sort of content is doing well in 2021 for engagement?

Travel and fashion content, such as images and reels, will always do well on Instagram because it is a very visual platform. But, during the pandemic, we saw a big shift when people started toward people sharing more about themselves in a raw and authentic way – people started to be more open to the world about their personal life when they had to isolate from it. Moving forward, personal content, combined with travel, will remain relevant for engagement this year.


I am a blogger and a content creator regularly collaborating with news and industry media outlets to help businesses and entrepreneurs to enhance their PR, branding and online authority.


Cecilia Vicuña announced as the Next Hyundai Commission Artist at Tate



Poet Cecicila Vicuna
During the early 1970s, the artist went into exile after the violent military coup against former Chilean President Salvador Allende | Photo Lucy Dawkins

Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña has been announced as the next Hyundai Commission for Tate Modern‘s Turbine Hall.

The annual Hyundai Commission, currently in its seventh series, offers artists an opportunity to create new work for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, a space that has hosted some of the world’s most memorable and acclaimed works of contemporary art.

Vicuña is perhaps best known for her radical textile sculptures, combining natural materials and traditional crafts. A prolific multi-disciplinary artist, she explores the pressing concerns of ecology, community, and social justice. Born and raised in Santiago, Cecilia went into exile during the early 1970s after the violent military coup against former Chilean President Salvador Allende. This sense of impermanence, and a desire to preserve and pay tribute to the country’s indigenous history and culture have characterized her career, spanning half a century.

“Cecilia Vicuña’s work explores generations of memory and history from a wider perspective, attending to the world around us. We look forward to seeing how the seventh Hyundai Commission with Vicuña invites audiences to think about their role in a broader conversation about our present and future.” – says Thomas Schemera, Global Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Customer Experience Division at Hyundai Motor Company.

Hyundai Commission: Cecilia Vicuña at the Tate Modern will open to the public from October 13, 2022 to April 16, 2023.

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“Women must strive harder to act confident, even if we don’t feel it”



Riannon Palmer, founder at Lem-uhn London

Entrepreneur Riannon Palmer launched her business, a London-based communications agency, in May 2021. She wanted to create an alternative PR company that prioritises positivity, after experiencing the stress and long hours agencies demanded and wanting to create a happier work environment.

“Prior to the pandemic, starting a business wasn’t something I thought I could do as I hadn’t seen young women, or people, in general, starting their own business. I think there is a huge issue with a lack of representation being a barrier as people want to see people like themselves do things to know it’s possible” – reveals the 26 years old business owner who started from scratch and outreached to several companies to secure 15 clients and long-term retainers. Her team now has five employees working limited set hours with wellness practices implemented and encouraged. “I aim to show the industry this type of agency can thrive, to ensure the negative stereotype of agency life isn’t putting off the next generation of PR professionals. The majority of our clients are on the younger side, and I think for older people who are more traditional, being a young woman has been off-putting for some potential clients.”

Lem-uhn is a communications agency for the modern age that works with brands that have a positive ethos and the power to make the world a better place. We help brands to grow and shape their public perception. As a company, we are creating a happier type of agency that embodies a healthier way of working by using efficient and modern practices. We believe work should be a place for people to come together in a positive environment and we place an emphasis on promoting positive mental wellbeing. This translates into high quality and reliable work for our clients because happy people can do their best work”.

The road getting here wasn’t so smooth and trouble-free for Riannon, though.

“When I started out in my career, I didn’t see many women in the top positions, and I think it’s really important to see a representation of people like yourself to know you can follow in their footsteps. And since launching, I think being a woman has led people to treat me slightly differently than if I was a man. Some family members also tried to discourage me as they thought I was doomed to fail” – says Palmer.

Although historically men have accounted for the majority when it comes to opening a new business, a recent government-commissioned review has found a record number of start-ups are being founded by women, with the growth of female ventures outstripping male-led companies for the first time.

The Rose Review’s 2022 Progress Report, led by NatWest chief executive Alison Rose, revealed there were 5,951 companies established by women in Scotland, which is twice the figure reported in 2018 – and across the UK, female founded businesses account for a record share of new firms, outstripping growth in male led firms for the first time, with more than 140,000 companies having been established by all-women teams.

Not all business areas, though, are likely to grow at the same pace.

“PR as a profession is female-led until you climb up the leader; men tend to have the leadership roles. In our case, the majority of employee applications have been women, and we have an all-female team currently. But we would like to be more representative and have a mixed team, moving forward” – says the entrepreneur that believes that the fact that public relations enterprises have more men on the top of the pyramid has to do with issues seen in all sectors, such as female professionals having to take maternity leave and struggling to find flexible solutions to fit in work alongside their family life.

“Women are also still expected to do the majority of the childcare, generally, which means sometimes their career can take a hit. Ideally, we’d live in a society with government-funded creches and equal responsibility for childcare between men and women. I’m currently reading ‘Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ which is very insightful for anyone looking to discover how society is currently built to favour men and that fundamental policy changes are needed if we want to live in a world where both genders can have the same opportunities” – defends Palmer.

“My key tip for a young entrepreneur starting a business in 2022, especially a woman, is to keep in mind that people will underestimate you. One way to counteract some of this is to be confident in your abilities. Studies have reported that women are less confident in themselves, especially in the workplace. This means we must strive harder to act confident even if we don’t feel it which, in time, can build confidence”.


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Guillaume Esmiol named co-Executive Director of the Cannes’ Marché du Film



Guillaume Esmiol named co-Executive Director of the Cannes’ Marché du Film
Guillaume (L) joined the Marché du Film as Deputy Director in charge of development in 2020

Cannes Film Festival’s Executive director Jérôme Paillard will step down of his role in December 2022 during Ventana Sur, the co-production market that the Festival co-organizes with the INCAA, each year in Buenos Aires.

After confirming his wish to retire in May 2022, following the confirmed 75th Festival de Cannes, Paillard advised Pierre Lescure, President of the Festival, and Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate, to name by his side, Guillaume Esmiol as co-Executive Director of the Marché du Film, allowing them to work in tandem before seeing Esmiol replace permanently Paillard next year.

Guillaume, who joined the Marché du Film as Deputy Director in charge of development in 2020, was formerly Innovation Director for TF1 Group and Marketing Director for the startup studio Wefound, an experience that allowed him to bring his expertise in Digital, Media, and Innovation to the annual festival taking place in the French Riviera since 1946.

The reshuffle won’t be the only one taking place at the festival in 2022.

Paolo Moretti, Cannes’ Directors Fortnight artistic director, is also set to step down after May’s edition of the event.  The section running alongside the Cannes Film Festival will be his third and last edition as a director of the program.

Italian-born, Moretti joined Directors’ Fortnight in 2019 from the Roche-sur-Yon Festival, where he had been artistic director since 2014, and was the first non-French national to head any Cannes section.

With professionals from the cinema industry, international stars, and up-and-coming actors expected to turn up at the red carpet in larger numbers than in 2021, when Covid-related restrictions delayed the event and saw reduced attendance, the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will take place from May 17 to 28, 2022.

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