Social media channels have had a lot of bad publicity recently about content, use of data and tax avoidance. This has made many businesses wary of contamination by association.
For instance, they may ask:
- Will corporate messages be credible when communicated on a network that’s riddled with misinformation?
- Is it consistent with the brand image and ethos to be represented on a channel that is mired in controversy?
On the other hand, social media channels do reach huge global audiences and offer cost-effective methods of communicating with potential targets. Also, according to two recent BBC reports, it looks as if they are making some serious efforts to put their houses in order.
Two reports have been newly published in the Technology News section of the BBC website that we believe have implications for social media marketing. There have been questions raised about the moves, but the aims seem positive.
In “Facebook gives users trustworthiness score” the BBC’s Technology Desk Editor reveals that users that negatively reported about content on Facebook would be assessed for their reliability. This was covered in the Washington Post as being part of the social networks actions to combat fake news.
Facebook executive Tessa Lyons is reported as explaining that the scoring assessment for trustworthiness “had been developed to improve a fact-checking scheme begun in 2016, in which posts that Facebook users flag as being false are sent to third-party organisations to decide if they should appear lower in people's news feeds.”
This further development was a move to identify which “flaggers” could be trusted and which came into the category of people that “often report things that they just disagree with.”
The BBC notes that a range of criticisms have been voiced about this trustworthiness assessment method, including lack of transparency, lack of regulation and, once again rearing its ugly head, misuse of data. These are issues that Facebook may need to address, but we take encouragement that this social network is taking more responsibility for the content posted on its site. That has to be a positive sign for business users.
A second BBC Tech report titled “Facebook and Twitter remove accounts linked to Russia and Iran campaigns” reviews actions being taken by Facebook and Twitter that should be widely welcomed. Accounts linked to Russia and Iran have been removed or suspended for behaviour that the networks described as “inauthentic” and “manipulating.”
This has been a large scale clean-up of toxic content, relating to over 650 groups, pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram plus over 280 Twitter accounts. Posts in the Facebook Newsroom cover the matter in depth and Facebook concedes that “while we’re making progress rooting out this abuse, as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge because the people responsible are determined and well funded. We constantly have to improve to stay ahead.”
However, these social media channels are putting effort and resources into meeting these challenges and that, once again, is an encouraging trend.
Taking editorial control
BBI Brandboost recently posted an article on our website titled “Rising Above the Five Star Fakers” which dealt with the problem of fake product reviews. We observed that the practice was “yet another aspect of the ugly phenomenon of fake news and fake content on the web, potentially casting doubt on genuine testimonials and positive news that brands wish to publicise.”
For years, certain social media channels have tended to disclaim responsibility for content on their sites because they classed themselves as online platforms rather than publishers. In other words, you shouldn’t blame the postal service if a poison pen letter is posted through your front door.
However, they have recently shown more willingness to take a measure of editorial control of their content as these BBC Tech stories indicate. This is good news for all social network users, except for the fakers and manipulators.
Social media marketing is a core service of BBI Brandboost and we can testify to its effectiveness in campaigns we have run for ourselves and our clients. Every development that enhances the credibility and reputations of social media channels will in turn increase their powerful potential for communicating brand messages and values. Progress, we believe, is being made.