Results of a recent international study have delivered some shocking results, and highlights the cracks in social media’s foundation. For the first time in quite a while, a lot of social media users are logging off, deleting their accounts and opting out of social media for more traditional information services and means of socialising.
Edelman, a PR agency, included 9,000 participants in a global study assessing their relationship with social media. 40% of people online have stated that this year they have deleted at least one of their accounts, specifically Twitter or Facebook. This breaks the steady trend that these platforms had created in previous years, as it is the first time that the steady increase in users comes to a halt, and actually starts declining. In the United States alone, 2018 witnessed an overall 4% decrease in users.
Where is this trend coming from?
- With the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, and other outbreaks of private information, there is increased distrust between users and these platforms.
- Facebook specifically largely circulates fake news.
- The amount of conflict, bickering, and harmful content found scrolling through the homepage of any of these platforms is truly disheartening. Rather than helping you “connect and share with the people in your life,” Facebook has become the battleground for opinions on any recent event, whether it be political, social, cultural, or intellectual.
Today’s overall impression of social media is one of discontent; even many professionals are not content with the marketing and sales results they are receiving through their social media campaigns. Their interactions online are not reflecting their reach to the consumer market.
So, maybe it’s time for the talk? If we are not satisfied by these platforms, is it time for us to reassess our relationship with social media?
Just like any human relationship, there needs to be trust before a solid foundation can be built. But how can brands achieve this if the platform on which they are communicating is not as trustworthy as we once thought? Brands should be aware of the context of their advertisements, and need to be sensitive to their following. By generating original content, it can be easier for customers to rely on the brand’s social media image without feeling an invasion of privacy. Demonstrate your corporate values clearly and consistently, in turn humanising the corporation and its services. Publish honestly and considerately, and place yourself in direct contact with your audience. Your content should be subtle and quirky, and not invasive. Use authenticity in your posts by referring to more user-generated content. This is a comforting move, as your audience will feel as if they are being represented in this world.
A tip for users is to steer clear of any discord or debate. If your purpose for social media is to interact with friends and family, do just that without getting into public conflict. If you see a post or comment you were not too fond of, maybe pick up the phone and discuss it, rather than sending out a blast of comments.
The downfalls of social media can be combatted, and changed for the better. These platforms should be a way for people and brands to positively engage with each other rather than trigger each other. Twitter has taken a stand, and has begun implementing policies that combat spam accounts and hateful and malicious content. Moving forward, to sign up on the platform, email or telephone confirmation is necessary. Further, “To reduce the visibility of suspicious accounts in Tweet and account metrics, the company said it has started updating account metrics in near-real time.”
One of the biggest problems with these platforms is the way we, as people, use it. However, there is always space for change, and by being conscious of our demeanor on social media we may be able to remind others of the harm features that we can begin to deviate from.
Reach out to #SocialSpeak and let us know what you think of this trend!