Are social networks becoming socially conscious?
Social media has seen rapid adoption in the past 15 years and is a very different beast to the early iterations. We’ve gone from the home-made music videos of MySpace and sharing love on Bebo to the multi-media behemoths that are Facebook (and all it owns) and Twitter.
In this time not only have social media platforms become increasingly popular but more influential. Social platforms are not just about keeping in touch for friends, they are a prominent vehicle for advertising, political and environmental issues. Hugely successful brands and individuals have been born from social.
With all this influence and power, social platforms have come under fire routinely for not only their data sharing policies (Cambridge Analytica scandal et al.) but also the role they have played in online bullying, the sharing of offensive content and the impact it may be having on users’ mental health.
However, is there an argument to say that some of the big social players are becoming socially conscious?
The most public and frankly required change has been the heightened emphasis on security and privacy. Mark Zuckerberg has admitted Facebook hasn’t done enough to protect its users’ privacy and recent changes have included end-to-end encryption and the fact that content won’t be stored. Facebook itself will be able to see less of the newsfeed than before.
The cynics might say they’ve had to do this to avoid any further negative press. But the facts that the likes of Facebook will have invested hundreds of hours and millions of pounds in order to clean up their act, highlights a real desire to be seen as a force for good. Features such as Facebook’s donation platform, which has received over $300 million in charitable donations have also been well-received.
Another recent development (being trialled in Canada) from sister company Instagram is ‘hiding’ the like count on posts. The aim of this practise is to place the focus on the content, not the likes, but there’s a deeper meaning: the pressures on young people to portray a certain image and the public judgement offered by a number of likes has been linked to growing concerns around mental health and confidence issues. It is refreshing to see that Instagram is willing to remove some of the functionality for which it is so popular in order to benefit its users.
How will this impact influencer marketing, upon which follower numbers and engagement rates are built? Only time will tell, but it’s unlikely to have a positive impact. But if that takes the advertising budget out of the influencers’ pockets and into Instagram’s are they bothered?
Again being cynical, some of these moves can be seen as responding to bad PR and looking to benefit Facebook commercially. But if making more money comes with a bit more social responsibility, is it really a bad thing? Better to do good to benefit yourself, than not do good at all…
Do you need help with portraying your businesses social conscious as part of your social and marketing strategy? We’d love to help. Let’s get talking on 01635 521 224 or [email protected].