November 22, 2017 By FTI Consulting
UK politics have been rather busy this week, but our first story this week steers clear of Iran or Brussels. Instead we look at the news this week of involvement by Russian-based Twitter bots in UK political discourse, in particular surrounding the Brexit referendum last year.
It was reported this week that among wider suspicious social activity in the run-up to the vote in June 2016, Oxford researchers found that 30 “highly automated” accounts posted 135,597 tweets from June 20-24 (being viewed roughly 11 billion times). Swansea University research tracked 156,000 suspected bots, publishing hundreds of thousands of tweets promoting misleading content, predominantly pro-Leave.
As a consequence, the Electoral Commission has announced that political parties will be told to disclose to the public who is paying for digital adverts. Greater transparency in online political campaigning has been a major driver of platform innovation in recent months, with Facebook bringing in an option to view “recent advert activity” in September. This allows for greater fact checking as users can now return to and review ads at a later date.
Alongside updated transparency efforts from platform, however, it is encouraging to see regulators, watchdogs, and legislators taking steps to understanding a media landscape that has so much influence on discourse, and potentially, electoral results.
Another week, another Snapchat story, with the platform looking to develop as quickly as possible to assuage investor and analyst fears about its long-term profitability. Called “audience filters”, companies, brands or organisations can now target bespoke audiences based on their age, gender, interests and even the time of day.
This is a promising build on the simpler geo filters, which targeted specific areas, ranging in size from a city to a single building. Snapchat will hope this update drives interest in their ad network, currently dwarfed by the more established social platforms.
Quaker Oats are one of the early adopters, delivering tailored messages to different audiences at different times, from mothers in the morning to students in the afternoon. Digital advertising on a platform like Snapchat blend paid-for and earned visibility in a way that should lower effective cost per impression or click.
Ultimately, digital ad geeks are finally starting to get excited about Snapchat’s potential. As one Snapchat ads partner put it: “Reaching someone when you know they’re at your store, that’s farming. Audience filters—that’s more like hunting”
And finally, a cautionary tale for any company offering sweet treats to London’s masses. On Tuesday Krispy Kreme donuts tweeted that they’d be delivering free donuts through UberEATS to celebrate going live on the food delivery service. Cue bedlam in offices across the capital as sweet-toothed Londoners counted down until 2pm, waiting for their cut of 36,000 free, sweet, treats.
Cue even more bedlam, however, when 2pm came and went, and was met with frustration and fury as the platform crashed and distraught patrons were left without a post-lunch sugar hit. This thread sums up the backlash both companies received, including one we assume will be most cutting: “this would never have happened on deliveroo”. Oh, and Deliveroo fully got in on the act.
We suppose the lesson here is that social media promotions can grab your attention, love, adoration, and headlines. Just make sure that your logistics are sorted and you can deliver what you say you can – it might also be a thought not to organise a 36,000-donut give-away on World Diabetes Day…
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