February 8, 2018 By FTI Consulting
We’re guessing a lot of people’s New Year’s resolutions this year were about cutting back on social media use, as we’ve seen a steady stream of “my-life-is-so-much-better-now-that-I’ve-quit-social-media” articles so far this year – hey, even Meghan Markle quit.
But the New Year’s resolution crowd alone can’t be blamed for Facebook’s recent drop in numbers. Last week, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that recent changes to the platform reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours.
While Zuckerberg tried to tout this as a positive, noting that these changes were designed to drive more “meaningful social interactions” over passive viewing, the numbers tell a different story. Facebook lost daily users in the U.S. and Canada for the first time ever in Q4, and it seems the company may be feeling the burn. A Bloomberg article recently detailed some of the tactics Facebook has deployed to re-engage users that have stopped using the platform. Inactive users have reportedly been receiving messages with misleading subject lines (“It looks like you’re having trouble logging into Facebook”) or desperate pleas to come back (“you have 90 new notifications, 6 messages, 1 poke and 4 group invites”). Facebook claims that these emails are not meant to re-engage users, but it’s hard to imagine that the company isn’t concerned about loss of users and reduced time spent on the platform.
But it’s not all bad news. Engagement and North American users may be down, but Facebook did manage to increase their revenue by 47 percent to $13 billion. How? By upping average price per ad by 43 percent. You can bet the algorithm changes and pricing adjustments will keep coming as Facebook tries to find its footing in 2018.
From Netflix’s foray into short-form content to Meg Whitman’s new “bite-sized” mobile video startup, there’s been a significant shift to focus on shorter, “snackable” video content. Platforms like Twitter have also been working to encourage the sharing of such videos with updates to streamline the sharing process.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the line between traditional forms of video (TV programming, commercials, etc.) and video made specifically for social is starting to blur. In fact, Diet Coke’s commercial for it’s new “Twisted Mango” flavor was originally shot as a social media video, but the brand liked the video so much that they ended up using it as their Super Bowl spot. What’s more, the ad was shot by director Paul Feig (of “Freaks and Geeks” and the “Ghostbusters” reboot). As brands continue to focus in on video, we’re likely to see barriers between social video and “traditional” video continue to blur. Scorsese-directed Twitter ads here we come?
Grassroots campaigns have always used social media as a launch pad, but the rise of the bot has dramatically changed the impact of these campaigns. Bots have been used for everything from politics to the false boosting of follower counts. They’ve also made their way to Hollywood.
The group “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys,” which used bots to lower the score of “Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” on Rotten Tomatoes has set its sights on Marvel’s hotly-anticipated Disney-distributed “Black Panther” organizing under hashtag #DownwithDisney. Both Facebook and Rotten Tomatoes were quick to respond, with the review-aggregator coming out strong against hate speech and promising to block users, while the social media platform removed the page for violating terms of service.
It seems, for the time being, that the bots are here to stay. Companies working on their rainy-day crisis plans would be well advised to also include a “the day the bots attack” plan as well.
Alright…. telecommuting technology has finally gone too far.