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‘The pandemic brought more authenticity to social media’

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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.

 

Olivia Miller is a journalist and blogger regularly collaborating with media outlets and writing about entrepreneurship, brand authority and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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BBC World Service chief resigns amid ‘deep concern’ about cuts

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Liliane Landor portrait
Liliane Landor will step down in July after three years as Senior Controller of BBC News International Services

Liliane Landor, Senior Controller of BBC News International Services and BBC World Service Director, has decided to leave the BBC later this year, a note released by the British Broadcast Corporation informed this week.

According to multiple media outlets, Landor said she was “deeply concerned about the operational capability of the World Service if additional cuts continue to weaken it further” and has quit over amid fear that the BBC could be hit by further spending cuts. 

Liliane Landor was previously head of foreign news at Channel 4, but has spent the majority of her career at the BBC after beginning at the French Service. She went on to manage, present, and edit key areas of the BBC World Service, including a role as head of News and Current Affairs in English, before becoming Controller of Languages, where she was editorially responsible for all non-English language services on radio, TV and online.

“The whole of the BBC owes Liliane a huge debt of gratitude. She is an exceptional journalist and editor. The BBC World Service is one of the jewels in the BBC’s crown, and has flourished under her leadership,” says BBC Director-General Tim Davie.

For BBC News CEO Deborah Turness, “In a polarised world where truth is under attack, Liliane has led our BBC World Service teams with real courage. She has been a global ambassador for our powerful and important journalism, and has worked with great skill to modernise World Service output to reach digital audiences. Liliane is a person of great integrity and I will miss her wisdom very much.”

In 2022 the World Service was forced to cut 382 jobs as part of its plans to move to a digital-led service, that would save around £28.5m. 

Several media professionals shared messages of support to Landor, after learning about her decision to quit the BBC. Comms director and ex BBC news staff member, Clare Harkey tweeted:

“So sorry to hear you’re leaving @lilo11- you’ve been a force for good in very difficult times,” and TV Journalist and Executive Producer Ben de Pear, founder at Basement Films, shared on social media: “Sorry to hear this a loss – and someone who understands the present conflicts so well – good luck @lilo11 – BBC World Service director to step down.”

“Serving as Director of the BBC World Service has been an immense privilege. To have been entrusted with leading a global service relied upon by hundreds of millions worldwide is humbling and the greatest honour of my professional life,” said Liliane Landor, who will be leaving the BBC in July, 2024.

Liliane also founded the BBC’s staff network, Global Women in News, which remains high-profile and active, and launched the popular 100 Women project in 2014, being named on the list herself in 2016.

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Nimesh Kataria to join England and Wales Cricket Board as CFO

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Nimesh Kataria to join England and Wales Cricket Board as CFO
Nimesh will succeed Scott Smith, who is leaving the ECB after eight years in the role.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced Nimesh Kataria as new Chief Financial Officer.

Nimesh will join the ECB in April, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in financial management and strategic planning. He will sit on the ECB Board.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nimesh to the ECB at an important time for our sport. His proven track record in financial management and strategic insight will be invaluable as we seek to grow cricket and become the most inclusive sport, whilst ensuring we put the game on a financially sustainable footing,” says Richard Gould, ECB Chief Executive Officer.

In his current role, Nimesh is Chief Financial Officer for WBD’s International Sports Division, overseeing Eurosport, Global Cycling Network, Discovery Sports Events and the Olympics. He also played a key role in the recent TNT Sports Joint Venture between WBD and BT. Nimesh began his career at Ernst & Young, before joining WBD.

“I am proud to be joining the ECB and hope to be able to play a part in growing cricket and helping even more people to fall in love with the sport. I’ve been a cricket fan my whole life, and while there are real challenges for the whole game in England and Wales to navigate, I’m excited by the opportunity we have to become the most inclusive sport and secure the future of cricket for future generations to play, watch and enjoy,” celebrates Nimesh Kataria.

In his new role, Nimesh will be responsible for financial reporting and business planning. His work will enable the organisation to budget effectively, control expenditure and deliver its revenue objectives. He will also lead key business services including Information and Technology and Procurement, as well as the Finance team.

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New study reveals the poorest presidents of Europe

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Nataša Pirc Musar, President of the Republic of Slovenia
Nataša Pirc Musar, head of the Republic of Slovenia, is the poorest president in Europe, study says | Photo: Matjaz Klemenc

Slovenia has the poorest president in Europe. Relative to average salaries, the presidents of Ukraine and Serbia follow closely as the second and third poorest on the continent. Across Europe, heads of state earn 4.1 times as much as the average earner and cost taxpayers €49.62 per hour. 

This is according to a new study by Slot.Day, who analysed the average gross salaries, GDP per capita and presidents’ earnings across 31 countries in Europe. The researchers used the latest available data from national statistics offices and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), ranging between 2022 and the third quarter of 2023. GDP data is sourced from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook, published in October 2023. Head of state income estimates are based on independent media reports, national legislation, government and presidency websites, income statements and official government communication. 

Europe’s poorest president lives in Slovenia. The president earns almost as much as any average employee in the country. The head of state has an estimated gross annual income of €44,701, only 3% higher than the current average salary in Slovenia – €43,342. An hour of the president’s time costs taxpayers €23.41 before deductions – one of the top 10 cheapest hourly pays for presidents in Europe. Slovenia is a country of medium wealth, whose GDP per capita (US$32,350) is slightly below the European average of US$34,710 for 2023, according to IMF estimates. The Slovenian president’s work is worth 1.5 of the country’s GDP per capita.  

Ukraine has the second lowest-paid president in Europe, relative to other average earners in the country. Based on official government communication, the Ukrainian president’s gross annual salary in 2023 was only €8,134, which is 1.63 worth of any average earner in the country. This is the lowest pay of any president in Europe, costing Ukrainian taxpayers only €4.26 per hour, before deductions, to carry out all their duties as head of state. Ukraine’s current GDP per capita is also the lowest in Europe, estimated at €5,245 for 2023. The president earns only 70% above that. 

Serbia’s president is the third poorest in Europe. With an hourly compensation of just €10.77, before tax, the head of state earns €20,564 per year. This is worth only 1.68 of the average salary in Serbia, estimated at €12,258. Serbia’s GDP per capita is the eighth lowest in Europe (US$11,301), and the president’s salary is almost double this amount. 

The presidents of Lithuania and Montenegro earn under two average salaries in their countries, while those in Croatia and Moldova earn just above this level. Finland, Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina complete the top 10 poorest presidents of Europe. Finland is the only country in Slot.Day’s ranking whose GDP per capita (US$54,507) is well above the European average (US$34,710).  

Richest presidents 

The richest presidents in Europe live in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ireland when comparing their official incomes to average salaries.  

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