January 26, 2018 By FTI Consulting
As the economists, celebrities, politicians (and FTI representatives) leave the quiet Swiss town of Davos for another year, we reflect on the major developments for social media and digital communications.
One major development which we noted last week was the increasing prominence of data privacy and cybersecurity as a pressing concern for companies. Conversations continued throughout various forums over the week, reflecting on infrastructure needs as well as financial and economic implications.
Yesterday, however, UK PM Theresa May delivered a challenge to Facebook, as she called for greater efforts from tech companies to counter terrorist, extremist, and other offensive material. Specifically calling out Facebook and Twitter, May cited possible shareholder and investor action as a motivator for positive social impact. In a week when media heavyweight Rupert Murdoch called on Facebook to pay news publishers for access to content, and George Soros attacked Facebook and Google, there is increasing pressure on social platforms – now very much categorised as publishers themselves – to amend their processes.
Thank you for ordering your educational video, would you like fries with that? This week US fast food chain Burger King served up their signature Whoppers with a side of internet governance education, and it’s raised a few questions, not least in our team here.
The interesting challenge with Net neutrality’s latest champion is whether they have earned the “right to speak” on this particular topic. While tech journalists, free speech advocates, sector and political commentators, and humble communications professionals all have different levels of earned authority on the topic, fast food conglomerate was not previously on our list of influential opinion-setters in the data regulation.
So does it matter that BK didn’t have a particularly strong “right to speak” on net neutrality? Some have been critical from a technical perspective (some were critical for oversimplifying, although praised elsewhere), while others were unhappy with the political side order they hadn’t ordered. Clearly, however, it’s raised Burger King’s profile, and Google searches for net neutrality – a topical if unglamorous term – now feature extensive coverage of the campaign. It’s a move likely to divide audiences, but as Ben & Jerry’s statement in Australia ahead of the equal marriage vote showed, there is positive reputational capital to be made from companies taking stances. Ultimately, even content strategies aimed at taking a fresh stance and moving conversation beyond existing parameters need to reflect to an extent the existing communications platform; perhaps Burger King has bitten off more than they can chew.
Another week, another rival pillages the Snapchat vaults for a function, feature, or tool. This week, Twitter is rumoured to be developing an update that will allow much faster access to camera, allowing for quicker video posting.
Tired of requiring several clicks to upload video, Twitter is looking to borrow from the likes of Snapchat and Instagram which have both structured their app so a user’s camera is a click or swipe away. It’s a move from CEO Jack Dorsey to modernise his platform further, as they chase growth following years of stagnant growth. Shares climbed 1.4% yesterday (while Snap dropped over 5%), suggesting that investors like the move. Dorsey has previously complimented Snapchat on its interface and offering, and this week’s news suggests he’s looking to sprinkle some of that modernising magic over our future tweets.
Consequences for our communications approach? Video already features as a central pillar to most content strategies, but if this move lowers barriers to crowd-sourced video hosted on Twitter, we could see an increase in user-generated content. As a challenge, too, emerging social media crises may be a lot more visual in the future…