Bots, Finstas and a Content Comeback in the Americas Download
September 6, 2017
By FTI Consulting
Spot the Bot
Bots – social media accounts run by a computer program rather than a human being – have become institutionalized in the social media landscape. Bots can be a headache beyond just distorting measurement figures for digital advertisers. They have become a mainstay for amplifying political messaging and stifling discussion. They can also make a public relations problem for a company substantially worse, as they can often manipulate trending topics, particularly on Twitter.
The first line of defense against bots – or a botnet, a network of bots that reinforce a topic for great amplification – is knowing how to spot them. This Medium post is a comprehensive toolkit for spotting bots, but the first three filters in the post are worth highlighting here for those without the luxury of time to dive into in-depth articles on bot spotting. They are:
Activity – assessing how many times an account has tweeted against how long the account has been active – e.g. if an account has tweeted 200,000 times but only been active for three months, that’s a big red flag.
Anonymity – some trolls are good at hiding their identity, so this criterion, especially, should be held in the context of other indicators. However, having severely limited information (no name, picture or location) on a profile is an early indicator of botty-ness.
Amplification – possibly the most common use of bots is to turn up the volume about a topic or story, so a history of posts retweeting similar news outlets or replicating headlines likely indicate there is no actual user behind that account.
Last week we touched on companies preserving cyber security by teaching employees to defend against hackers with their own social media presence. This week, a new challenge: the Finsta.
No, we hadn’t heard that term before this week either, but it helpfully encapsulates a new trend amongst the savvier younger generations. Every current or recent student knows (or may learn the hard way) that social media presences are a big part of your personal brand. This means that many users are more conservative about what they post and how they portray themselves than ever before; at least on the accounts where they use their real names.
Now, the finsta, or fake Instagram, comes into play. Younger users (although not exclusively) are setting up accounts with smaller followings of more intimate friends, allowing them to post as a more “real” version of themselves. These accounts are usually private, meaning less potential reputational damage to the individual or their employer. But this also creates a challenge to employers, making it harder to track malfeasance by employees online. We’d say the first step for companies should be addressing this issue in social media guidelines (without being Draconian) to make sure employees know that social media policies extend across all accounts.
Content is King
That last point – the content focus – holds worthwhile lessons. LinkedIn reduced emails to users by 70 percent, and made those reminders, as with the content users see on the platform, more useful. It shifted to helping users (both companies and individuals) find, share and engage with more relevant information amongst their networks, implementing easier tagging of individuals and companies, as well as hashtags.
So, to conclude, two key considerations for your content: how is it useful and how can your audience interact with it?
The Reading List
Ignoring These Website Fundamentals Is Sinking Your Social Media Efforts AdWeek
Rebranding the South Side: Obama Foundation uses social media push to counter stereotypes Chicago Tribune
Instagram Says Hack That Targeted Celebrities Was Wider Than Previously Thought WSJ
Inside the black market where people pay thousands of dollars for Instagram verification Mashable
Hump Day Helper
Things I’ve never been thankful for until now: that my apartment has door knobs and not handles.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting LLP, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals, members or employees.