Social media platforms are changing and growing. Now they understand about trust and truthfulness after some painful learning and past mistakes.
A wonderful article in Catalyst magazine just published by Blaise Grimes-Viort explores how social media finally grows up. The platforms have had their recent problems, as we know, with advertising slowing, fake news and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But there are plenty of new opportunities if they change and adapt.
Changing character of social media
It is interesting to note how social media, particularly Facebook, has changed since its birth in 2006. At first it was truly social – community, interaction, connections. Then brands took over and the platforms became more corporate and brand-heavy. Then data breaches and trolling tarnished social media. So now social media grows up. That means, as many regulators believe, they should take responsibility for what is published on their sites – as traditional media does.
Concerns as social media grows up
My concern, and I agree with Blaise here, is that brands have gained so much data and commercial success from social media that they will continue in that corporate style, they won’t want to give up control. But that is not being social, it’s being commercial. Brands could and should find more imaginative ways to engage with other platform users. They can give them ideas, good content, tips, learning and entertainment without overtly selling anything.
Influencer marketing is very popular with brands especially in the travel sector where I work. But transparency about the relationship between the brand and the influencer is key (as it is with traditional, regulated media). We want the fun of hearing from interesting, cool influencers but we want honesty and transparency about their relationship with brands.