How influential is social media when it comes to vaping?
It is a question that there isn’t really a definitive answer to, after all, to what extent does anything influence the world around us? In most other cases it is easy to simply dismiss the question in favour of real world problems. After all twitter has no influence on the flavour bans in America, nor does Instagram have a direct role in India or Brazil banning vaping in its entirely. So when we talk about social media in the real world perspective then it is all make believe right? A world within a world where we all go to connect to other people, pretend to be someone else or simply show the world how great you are. Have you ever thought about the influence that social media has on vaping though? How can platforms designed to self promote and talk to old school friends be influential on a whole industry. That is what I want to take a look at today, in how social media can play both a positive and negative role in the vaping industry. Not everything has to be doom and gloom right? Social media can play a very positive role even in current climates so we will split this into both a positive and negative aspects of its influence.
The negative influence of Social media in the vaping industry
Control of content
It is often forgotten that despite social media being a global entity, they are essentially privately owned companies who make up their own rules. The rules of the internet don’t exist here, only the rules of Zuckerberg. It is from this ideology that you start to realise that the social media platforms aren’t governed for enjoyment, it boils down to cold hard cash every step of the way. So when a political party, anti charity group or simply the tone of the general consensus decides on a matter, it can have a huge influence on what then is allowed on these platforms. Last year we saw just that in June 2019 when an anti vaping group presented a letter to social media platforms asking for heavier measures on social media in terms of vaping. Now if this was the real world you would pay very little attention to the ones writing it but in the world of social media however it has a lot of weight. Co-signed by 125 organisations from 48 countries, some of which were objectively strange, it was presented to the bosses of each platform to little or no fanfare. If it was never spoken of again then it would never have been known yet only a few months later we saw change. Facebook groups shut down with little warning, Instagram started to remove any sorts of advertising and even the effects were felt on You Tube where channels got demonetised and warned over potential advertising on their videos from 4 years ago. It was a mass culling of all actual vaping related activity that is felt even now. A simple accidental link to a product on a reply can potentially shut a group down.
So what did this tell us about how social media influenced vaping? It told us that social media was easily influenced by external factors such as a dentist in Spain and a health centre in Kenya countersigning a letter from a group of Helen Lovejoys with next to none scientific or medical background. That is not to say the organisation aren’t fighting a good fight because they fight for a cause each and every vaper believes in also, the evil of smoking. However their expertise in vaping is somewhat lacking to be able to demand change based on simply an ideology and not much else. What this also told us however was that there was no respite or disagreeing with the social media decision. If they deemed it to break their new rules, there was no second chances and no leeway or loopholes to be found. It is fair to say in August 2019, many of the vaping communities online shut their doors and Instagram advertisers were suddenly out of a job. It is this action that removed discussion, promotion and worst of all connections on platforms designed to do just that. We have never recovered since that fateful day and venturing online now is a more barren place as a result.
Power to discredit
Thankfully this is not something we have seen just yet but the potential is there in the future depending on influences from America. Recently a video was released in regards to a different subject that offered an alternative opinion on the subject matter. What it was about is neither here nor there but what happened afterwards was certainly relevant to the vaping industry. As the video offered an alternative view to what was generally being said it was removed from Facebook, followed by Instagram, Twitter and even YouTube. The reason given was misinformation and like that it was gone. What followed though is the interesting part, any discussion about the video was removed as well. If social media decided the content wasn’t suitable they were well within their rights to remove it but for any discussion to go as well? It strikes me as a little odd that social media made it in their best collective interest to completely remove any trace of the video like it never existed.
So where does vaping factor into this story you may ask? Well it is not what has happened here but what may happen in the future with such a powerful tool. As it is well known, the influences against vaping in America is very much driven to control or remove vaping at any cost. The FDA have seized control of the industry after 10 years of trying pretty much and as we know social media is based in the good old US of A. So if the FDA wanted to exert their control, if WHO fence sitting kept peddling the unknown dangers of vaping in the face of a plethora or research or another anti vaping group wanted to have their voice heard then who’s to say positive vaping wouldn’t become misinformation? Any article promoting benefits of vaping over smoking or a video talking about how much better vaping has improved their health since the switch could be gone in an instant. We have seen our communities decimated but to remove anything positive about vaping, could that really happen?
Social media stands for whatever makes the most money and campaigns against them is not good for business. So if you keep adding more pressure in America onto these companies, who’s to say their reaction isn’t total blanket banning an industry that is still mistakenly connected to tobacco? That is a future, no matter how unrealistic it sounds has foundations being laid as we speak.
The Positive influence of Social media in the vaping industry
What I don’t want to do is dwell too much on the negatives here because let’s be honest, there is far too much of that going on right now. We have looked at the potential scenarios with Social Media flexing their muscle at the first sign of hostility and what could happen if it goes too far. So what about the positives, the current good things that social media contributes to? You would be surprised but there is plenty that social media still does that allows the vaping industry to prosper even if it is on a floor of paper over a dark abyss.
This may be one that sounds obvious but what social media still allows for is prospering businesses to connect with their customers far more than most other industries. Imagine being able to chat with ASDA about their new range of chocolate biscuits that are coming in or speaking to Currys about the newest TV from a well known brand offering 22k quality. It sounds far-fetched right? Not for the vaping industry. Just look at ourselves here at Drip Hacks as a fantastic example for being able to connect with you far more than just on a website full of products. We can discuss with you, talk about new devices, show you coming soon flavour of the months etc. We can connect and promote but do so for you, the community, the customers and the most important part of our business. You can make friends in our groups, chat and get to know each other and be part of the furniture, or the guru that people look up to for their genius advice. The point I am trying to make is that social media allows us to reach out to you and get your input into the business because we exist for you. Without social media we would just be another faceless company that values money over its community.
So how does social media affect vaping here as a positive? Simply put, it allows us and other businesses to be more than just a name, we can be a part of your vaping community. You know us, you know the bosses and you know that we constantly look to you for inspiration of what you want. It is this opportunity that we use to bring us closer to you and build our company around you far more than we could do without social media.
Information and Community
One of the biggest issues with the vaping industry now that many would agree with is the sheer amount of new products being released every single week. From small companies all the way to the big names, there always seems to be something new coming out planning on revolutionising the market. At any given time there can be multiple versions of the same product, different upgrades or alternative designs or simply a new addition such as coils to bump up the power. The problem is that for the most part this information is usually locked away behind manufacturer websites or reviews that praise it no matter what. It is because of this situation that many vapers find it difficult to keep up with the latest products and therefore many will pass them by before they have even been made aware of them. Companies can advertise their latest products that they get in but deep down you know what them saying how good it is will be designed underneath for you to make a purchase based on their glowing praise much like any other industry. This does not look to change anytime soon so the overload of information will be around for many a year before the industry start to apply the breaks.
So how does influence the vaping industry as a positive? It allows communities to tell each other about new products coming out far better than a review ever could. How many of you have ever bought a new mod based on its design rather than its glowing reviews over on YouTube? Chances are you did that because you seen a picture on social media and fell in love with it. Given how many sub ohm tanks that can be released at any given time, how do you know which one is the best? Chances are you know because the communities are talking about it far more than any other tank. The Freemax Mesh pro is a fantastic example of this, a tank that didn’t have the weight of a company name or a mass market advert but it was talked about by the vaping community for months on end. Every time someone asked what the best tank was, the mesh pro was always mentioned, even now. So it shows how fantastic the social media community can be in helping vapers understand products, understand quality and to get that impulse buy on payday just right.
Social media can be a very useful tool for vapers to gain a far larger knowledge simply from each other. If you ever need help then there can be a fellow vaper on hand to offer it, if you need to know why something isn’t working then someone else who fixed it can jump in. The potential of what you can use the communities for is still massive and failing all of that, it allows you to keep in touch with you favourite personalities in the industry. Whether it is a You Tube personality, a blogger or an owner of your favourite store, social media can bring you closer to them unlike anything else.
Social media may have the power and control over the industry from a promotional aspect but the truth is, it can still be whatever we want it to be if we all stay as a community. We may live in fear of it all falling down around us one day but for now we can still take heart that this community is still here, still connecting and still making the industry proud. When it comes to the influence of social media, at the heart of it is us, the vapers themselves that make it what it is. We are the ones who promote products far better than their makers, we influence what flavours are made here at Drip Hacks for example, we are the ones who help each other when we really need it. It is fair to say there little else like us online, the vaping industry is a rather unique prospect when it comes to our online communities and we should be proud of that. As long as the vapers still want to talk about vaping, social media will be the best way for us to do just that. So let us keep using social media to bring us all together, to keep out communities alive and to keep allowing businesses to come to you rather than the other way around. It is social media that brings companies to life and it is social media that offers vapers what they really want, we are legion no matter what others say.