Social Content

Are you getting Return on your Investment?

No, this is not a B2B communication, it’s aimed at all content creators posting regularly on social media. There was a time when it was relatively easy to grow a following, but nowadays algorithms give visibility to high earners in order to increase profitability.

If you look into the most popular accounts with millions of followers worldwide, very few are driven by a particular good cause with strong human values. Fake news spread much faster than the truth and shocking content is far more effective in terms of catching people’s attention and generating comments, or ‘community engagement’.

There are positive voices, such as the renowned Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, but most content is questionable. A recent article published by The Guardian about YouTuber ContraPoints described YouTube as “a platform awash in makeup tutorials, guys playing video games, horrible comedy and conspiracy theorists.”

Natalie Wynn’s channel has more than 1.3 million subscribers and she stands out from the crowd due to her ability to expose bigotry and making people examine their own biases. She lives on the funding of the more than 13,000 fans and doesn’t do ads or endorsements.

“The whole internet is about jealousy, it creates such animosity between people because it’s all about people envying each other. It’s so unhealthy in every possible way.” Natalie Wynn

If you really look into it, it’s true, but it doesn’t have to be this way, and change my be on the horizon…

Sinan Aral, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of The Hype Machine, led the Social Media Summit at MIT on April 22, 2021. He points out social media platforms are huge economic empires.

“Social media is rewiring the central nervous system of humanity in real time and we’re now at a crossroads between its promise and its peril.” Sinan Aral

This Social Media Summit had a much more comprehensive remit with a wide range of prominent panelists discussing major issues:

  • Rescuing Truth (online media is aiding those who want to manipulate the truth for mass audiences);

  • Ensuring Transparency (online privacy and security remain at odds);

  • Reviving Competition (there is a clear market concentration in the social media economy);

  • Humanising Design (Fixing AI and social media design flaws);

  • Enlightening Business Models (change the attention economy - selling our attention as ad inventory to brands, governments and NGOs);

  • Restoring Speech (draw lines between free and harmful speech).

[The companies behind social media and search engines are driven by a] “profit imperative that has nothing to do with democracy, civil rights, human rights, and broader issues of justice and fairness in our societies.” Safiya Noble, co-founder of the Center for Critical Internet Inquiry at UCLA

Nowadays, there is a proliferation of brand communication agencies and social media management jobs focused on delivering measurable results. The pandemic only accelerated our virtual presence and engagement, and phygital brands and companies are definitely the big winners.

Facebook is so powerful that it can interfere in the political arena, having actually brought the Australian government to its knees, just to name but a single example.

Nonetheless, one cannot underestimate personal brands. Coca Cola’s share price dropped by 1.6% when Cristiano Ronaldo rejected two coca cola bottles in Euro 2020 press conference, replacing them with a bottle of water.

It doesn’t matter if Coca Cola sponsors football, it’s clearly a manipulation of how people perceive fizzy drinks, it certainly doesn’t change the fact that fizzy drinks are quite unhealthy.

If only more individuals with millions of followers could be aware of their power to lead others towards positive change!

The point of this post is for content producers to ask themselves if social media is worth all the effort they put into it. Creating fresh content is a time consuming experience, is it worth it? What are you getting in return? What type of content are you sharing? Is it positive?

Some influencers mislead their followers by not disclosing brand partnerships and endorsements. If you're unsure about what is considered an ad, click here.