July 20, 2018 By FTI Consulting
You may be feeling a little lonely this week, as many people have noticed their Twitter following has taken a sharp drop. Well we are here to cheer you on and say that your loss of followers isn’t because everyone suddenly decided your tweets are dull (although for some it could be a contributing factor), rather it is likely due to Twitter’s purge of fake accounts.
Over the months of May and June 2018, the social media platform reportedly suspended 70 million accounts and prior to that in Q4 2017 it suspended 58 million. Social media influencers across the board have seen a dramatic fall in their Twitter following, including Barack Obama who lost 2.37 million and 50 Cent’s candy shop is looking rather empty after he lost 6.3% of his followers.
For brands the revelations will raise a number of questions. The first of which is if your company is working with social media influencers, how influential are they really? If your influencers have had a significant drop in their following then you may want to consider whether you are getting value for your money for the audience they are reaching. Another key question companies need to ask is, are we reaching the right audience? Whether your audience was part of the purge or they survived, you may want to consider the quality of your followers. Are they authentic and are they relevant? Clearly size is no longer everything.
A recent announcement from Mark Zuckerberg on a Recode podcast that the company does not intend to remove fake news from the platform has got us thinking about the challenges and potential solutions of growing online falsehood.
A recent report by Gartner has predicted that by 2022 the majority of individuals in mature economies will consume more false information than true information. For brands and publishers this is a worrying outlook as growing misinformation will likely lead to increased distrust and suspicion amongst consumers. So what can be done? As technology has been a central part of the problem, it may also be part of the solution. Artificial intelligence may become a remedy for the problem. One example of this is a technology start-up called VeriFlix, which has trained algorithms to scan user-submitted videos and determine whether the content is out of alignment with the purported truth.
While this technology shows promising signs of applicability, the dilemma of what to do with fake news continues. Can social media channels remove fake news without making the claim that they are the arbiters of objective truth and risk censoring what others consider the truth? Facebook’s current solution is to downgrade fake news on our feeds, whilst this measure may work for now it is likely that this issue will require more attention in the future.
For those of us who aren’t part of the #VapeFam, a brief introduction to JUUL may be needed. JUUL is an e-cigarette which has become so popular it has become synonymous with the growing vaping culture
As of November 2017, “JUUL” became a more popular search term than “cigarettes” in the USA, this is an impressive feat and one which some may celebrate given that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than combustible cigarettes. However, others have grown concerned that the popularity of e-cigarettes is leading to increased use amongst teens, this concern has turned to criticism of the company’s social media presence.
In response JUUL has begun to revise its social media channels to become more focused on its purported key audience, current cigarette smokers. It has stated that it will no longer use models in its advertising and will instead focus on adult testimonials of those who have switched to vaping. The company is also cracking down on third party social media accounts which have targeted the products at underage users. Whether you’re a fan of the vape or not, JUUL provides a good example of a brand which is willing to listen to its stakeholders and humble enough to admit that a change needs to be made. The company may find that the move will also put it ahead of the game as some expect that advertising regulation on nicotine products is likely to increase in the coming years, which would force other brands to make similar changes.
A couple of weeks ago we reported that Twitter and Facebook would be increasing the transparency of advertising on the platform – and particularly on political advertising – to reveal who is behind the advert and how much they are spending.
As expected researches have wasted no time in creating the “who’s who” of advertising big spenders on Facebook. There are perhaps no surprises in the finding that Donald Trump is the USA’s biggest buyer of political ads given the emphasis that his administration has placed on social media. Yet it will not require high level research skills to dig into data on political advertising. The Facebook political archive allows you to search for any keyword to see the political ads and content, including who paid for it, the demographic targeting, how much they spent and impressions. For those companies wishing to engage with political issues – which can be as broad as climate change – this will become an essential tool to examine how other brands and publishers are approaching the issue and the level of competition which is present on the platform for certain keywords.