October 5, 2018 By FTI Consulting
Spare a thought for Elon Musk this Friday – he’s having a rough week. Back in August, the rocket-fuelled billionaire tweeted about taking Tesla private and quoted some funny-looking figures, and caught the unwanted attention of the SEC, who charged Musk with fraud for misleading investors.
To sum up the terms of the settlement, not only did the SEC not appreciate his 420 joke, but the settlement resulted in him being removed as Tesla’s chairman, and it was decided it’s time Tesla brought in some supervision for Musk’s Twitter. Oh, and they’re fining Musk and Tesla a combined $40 million (working out at an eye-watering $4.4 million a word). It’s not yet entirely clear how this supervision will work. While this April Fools’ prank might not pass the litmus test, on Monday he apparently got the green light to share a particular Naughty by Nature track.
Socially-active leadership can have a huge reputational impact on any company (in this case negatively rather than positively). The SEC ruling demonstrates that regulators see no difference between tweets and the more traditional formats of press releases as means of communicating market-sensitive information, so oversight and governance when it comes to leadership’s social and digital communications is paramount. We’re sure that Tesla’s investors are breathing a sigh of relief, but still – this feels like the end of an era.
And now for our regularly scheduled platform update. Reddit this time, which just announced that they’ve hit 1 billion native video views per month, a year after introducing the feature which lets users record and post their own videos on site.
This new feature not only enhances the way users interact with the site; it’s part of Reddit’s ongoing efforts to become more ad-friendly.
Reddit is a unique platform from a digital communications perspective – it offers the opportunity to engage directly with niche and highly engaged audiences, and there’s hardly any competition from other brands on the platform. However, Reddit is notorious for achingly painful brand missteps – run afoul of the userbase, and you could end up on r/HailCorporate, or worse.
The growth of native video might also have implications for monitoring conversations on the platform, which has historically been text-based. Reddit is another potential host of conversations directly relating to organisations or brands, but current monitoring tools only pick up text. For advertisers, Reddit relies on language triggers to whitelist and blacklist pages, so that ads don’t pop up on controversial communities. Even this strategy isn’t foolproof, so what happens when more and more of those conversations happen via video? Our advice? We’ll keep an eye on Reddit for the moment, and let you know when it’s safer to come in.
What will tomorrow’s history look like? Many physical legacies of our activity will remain; millennia from now, schoolchildren may sit in classrooms as they flick their way through an AR museum tour, gawping at Nokia 3310s, or scoff at discs the size of their palm which held 14 songs.
So much of our lives happen online, however, that archaeologist of the future will be very different to the hammer-and-brush-wielding picture we all have in our heads today. Enter the good people at Internet Archive, a non-profit that has spent 22 years preserving “the internet”. This is obviously a daunting task – currently the internet contains upwards of 4.5bn pages, doubles every 3-5 years, and the average web page lasts about 100 days.
In 2001 the archiving efforts were opened to the public, via what became known as “The Wayback Machine”. People could submit snapshots of websites (how the site looked at that particular moment in time), hundreds for a single day, for example, in the case of news sites. People have been busy; since 2001, 338bn such snapshots have been saved. This totals 40 petabytes of data – we didn’t know either, but that’s the equivalent of not quite the entire written works of mankind, in every language, since the dawn of time.
A fundamental question, therefore, is how we select what we stick in our (albeit enormous) time capsule. Curation bias is a challenge for any database (note Wikipedia and its male-dominated community’s recent challenges), and what we choose to preserve will tell our stories long after we’re not around to tell them. To refocus on the here and now – from a corporate comms perspective just be aware that people will be keeping an eye on what you say on your website and beyond, and they’ll be taking notes.