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‘Z’: on Russia’s tanks and capturing the public’s military mindset

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The 'Z' sign has become ubiquitous on cars in Moscow, clothing and across social media profiles on the Russian internet

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The ‘Z’ sign has become ubiquitous on cars in Moscow, clothing and across social media profiles on the Russian internet – Copyright AFP –

Since Russia moved troops into Ukraine, the letter “Z” — emblazoned on Moscow’s advancing armoured vehicles — has gripped the country’s public consciousness on social media, in manicures and on an athlete’s uniform.

There’s no consensus on what the letter actually signifies, but almost two weeks into Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine it has become synonymous with the Russian army.

And increasingly, it’s being used as a rallying cry either in support of the operation in Ukraine — or against it.

“Z”, a letter that features in the Latin alphabet but not in Cyrillic, first appeared several weeks ago on military vehicles rolling towards Ukraine, possibly to distinguish them from Ukrainian forces and avoid friendly fire.

But the sign has since become ubiquitous on cars on the streets of Moscow, clothing and across social media profiles on the Russian internet — a trend the authorities are eager to encourage.

The official Instagram and Telegram pages of Russia’s defence ministry prominently show messages starting with the letter, such as “Za Pobedu” (For Victory), “Za Mir” (For Peace), “Za Pravdu” (For Truth) and “Za Rossiyu” (For Russia).

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The government-aligned Kommersant business daily this week published aerial photos of some 60 children and their families forming the shape of the letter in the snowy courtyard of a hospice in Kazan, central Russia.

Several days later, 20-year-old gymnast Ivan Kuliak stepped onto the third-place podium step at the World Cup in Doha, Qatar, wearing a “Z” affixed to his chest — a Ukrainian athlete stood to his right, having snagged gold.

The International Gymnastics Federation responded by calling for an investigation into Kuliak for his “shocking behaviour”.

He however told Russian media that, if he could, “I would do it again”.

“I saw our military was wearing it, and I looked at what the symbol represents. As an athlete, I will always fight for victory and I will play for peace,” he said.

– Flash mobs –

Among theories swirling, one is that “Z” stands for the first letter of the Russian word “Zapad”, which means West, a reference to forces of the Western military district.

Some observers noted it was the first letter in the surname of Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Regardless, an array of politicians, celebrities and influencers want to show off their patriotic zeal by splashing the symbol that is emblematic of allegiance to the Kremlin.

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media regulator, which has recently been working to block media critical of the military operation, accordingly edited its profile on the Telegram messenger to capitalise the “Z” in the agency’s name.

Beyond Moscow and Saint Petersburg, flash mobs and demonstrations of support have sprung up in far-flung regions under the slogan “We do not abandon our own”.

Women have been singing with choir members wearing a “Z” on their chests, taxis have displayed a “Z” on their windows and cars have parked in the shape of a “Z”.

In the region of Barnaul in southern Siberia, a huge “Z” was on the snow, in the orange and brown colours of the Saint George ribbon, a historical symbol of Russian and Soviet military successes.

Business-savvy minds have seen that T-shirts with the “Z” logo are now being sold online.

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LinkedIn Adds New Features for Company Pages, Including Post Templates and Link Stickers

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LinkedIn has outlined its latest batch of updates for Company Pages, most of which had already been previewed in some capacity, but are now being rolled out on a broader basis.

First off, LinkedIn’s making its new post templates available to all company pages.

LinkedIn post templates

As you can see in these examples, LinkedIn’s post templates, as they sound, provide a range of visual enhancements for your LinkedIn updates, which could help to make them stand out in feeds.

LinkedIn originally launched post templates for individual users last month, but now, it’s making them available for Company Page updates as well.

As per LinkedIn:

Create engaging, actionable LinkedIn content easier than ever with customizable templates, available directly in the LinkedIn app, with no third-party tools required.”

I mean, I don’t know that these types of posts really fit with LinkedIn’s professional approach. But then again, as many have noted, LinkedIn is increasingly becoming more like Facebook anyway, with more personal posts and updates that are less focused on professional aspects.

And that seems to be working – LinkedIn’s parent company Microsoft keeps reporting ‘record levels of engagement’ in the app every quarter, so maybe this is actually a good, valuable addition.

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We’ll see how people feel about it when every other LinkedIn ‘thinkfluencer’ is posting using these templates. You can access post templates in the mobile app by tapping the ‘use template’ option in the post composer menu.

As an addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making its new link stickers available for Company Pages too, which could help to drive more direct response to your updates.

LinkedIn link sticker

On another front, LinkedIn will also now enable all Company Pages to pin comments beneath their brand posts.

LinkedIn Pinned Comments

The rollout for this feature also started last month, with some users seeing the option to pin comments in the app.

That could be a good way to spark more focused engagement, and highlight top fans, while you could also use this to simply boost interactions by pinning the comment with the most engagement at the top of the reply chain.  

As a reminder, LinkedIn Company Pages can also pin an update for similar purpose.

Finally, LinkedIn has also added a new Our featured commitments’ section for Company Pages, where brands will be able to showcase their most important values.

“Increasingly in today’s market, job seekers are evaluating potential employers based on their values. They’re interested in knowing where companies stand on issues that are important to them, such as DEI, work-life balance, sustainability, etc. To provide greater insight and connections, LinkedIn is enabling employers to highlight these commitments on their LinkedIn company page to define their talent brand and values.” 

Brands will be able to include up to five commitments in their featured commitments section, while you’ll also be able to host content that demonstrates the same, all of which will be displayed in a sub-panel in the ‘About’ section of your Page.

These are some potentially handy updates, with the link stickers and pinned comments standing out as likely the most valuable additions for LinkedIn page managers.

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Post templates I’m not as sold on, especially for brands – but then again, there may be ways to use these templates to improve the presentation of your posts, and maybe, that’ll increase overall engagement.

You can read about all of LinkedIn’s latest company page updates here.

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