July 26, 2017 By Zak Mehan
Social media was once seen as a bargain play for savvy marketers and consumer PR folk. Companies weren’t overcrowding Twitter and Facebook, newsfeeds were chronological and brands not getting roasted for poor customer service were rewarded for directly engaging their customers. With “pay-to-play” as the new credo for companies on social media, many have declared this day long since passed.
Enter Arby’s CEO Paul Brown and CMO Rob Lynch. Arby’s has understood the social media game for some time but has adapted with the changes on social media platforms well, employing a “moneyball” approach to spending tactically. Along with cheap, tongue-in-cheek TV ad spots and the slogan “We have the meats” to showcase the brand’s personality, it used social media to help authenticate that brand and to reach niche audiences. To do this, the brand became adept in the languages of niche groups – like the video gaming community or even its biggest troll – to connect with them in a way that felt real. Brands should take note that being authentic, responsive and true to your audience is a cheap means to deep connections with stakeholders.
An opinion piece in STAT News this week chronicled how Martin Shkreli, the infamous Pharma Bro, leveraged social media to run a profitable short-selling scheme. Basically, Shkreli et al would pick a stock – probably a relatively lightweight one not backed by a major institutional investor – and trash it on third party blog forums like Seeking Alpha or Scribd. Analyses are usually a mix of actual corporate reporting and false assertions or rehashing of reported numbers out of context. Then these are pumped out over social media channels with cashtags and other attention-grabbing elements helping them to garner attention. These are then amplified by other “micro-influencers” and news aggregators. By this point, retail investors begin to pay attention and dump the stock. This triggers algorithms designed to notice large sell volumes or negative chatter on social media and automatically dump even more of the stocks. Then, short sellers make a bundle of cash for their earlier “gamble”.
While we expect this won’t be a huge concern for mid- to large-cap companies, all companies should be keeping track of who is talking about them online. Also, engaging with finance influencers and making sure accurate and digestible content is readily available are good defenses to misinformation about your company.
Let’s say a certain very vocal critic of a news organization tweets a screenshot of an article from a newspaper. The newspaper in question responds saying this is a doctored image and provides a link to the actual article. Our critic says the content was simply edited after the initial tweet. Now, where do we go from here to figure out who’s telling the truth?
It is incredibly hard for a newspaper or company to prove what content actually stood on their webpage at any given time. Legal teams will often ask for records of what was uploaded and when (if yours doesn’t, it should!), but theoretically developers could make updates in the back end at any time. This makes it really tricky if, say, your company has a product recall and people try to claim damages by saying that the location, batch or other identifying information on an announcement was incorrect. Even if the claim isn’t enough to create a legal issue for you, it could add to reputational damage from an ongoing incident. While there is not a 100% fool-proof way to do this, leaving a solid paper trail and keeping an undoctored record are your best immediate defense.
Google Scraps Sparse Search Page to Embrace News Feed on Mobile Bloomberg
A visual journey through the evolution of the influencer Mashable
Amazon launches Spark, a shoppable feed of stories and photos aimed at Prime members TechCrunch
Why publishers are testing an old Facebook tool originally designed for brands Digiday
Instagram encroaches on Snapchat’s turf of social media influencers, winning their hearts, minds and posts CNBC
Many of you probably joined us in (prematurely) mourning the death of MS Paint this week. Fortunately, Paint lives on and to celebrate, here are some absolute masterpieces by people who clearly have too much time on their hands.