Similar to the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort on Wall Street, social media has hit its tipping point. But the original promise to connect the world and create a better society hasn’t materialized in quite the way we had envisioned. Now platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook have been asked to pick their path, potentially choosing between financial gain and corporate values that protect their users. While Twitter and Snapchat chose to stand up against hate speech, banning political ads, as well as taking action to flag misinformation, Facebook has taken some action, but regrettably has not yet been as proactive.
As marketers, it’s our responsibility to hold the platforms that we invest in accountable for the way in which they choose to influence society. It’s also our job to ensure we are nurturing a relationship with our consumers in an environment built on privacy and consent. With newsfeeds fed by algorithms, it's harder for users to see opposing views, and social media platforms have contributed to the polarization of society. This is exacerbated when social media platforms don’t take robust actions to flag fake news and reduce hate speech. There are also legitimate concerns over cyberbullying and the mental health impacts of social media addiction resulting from the dopamine-fueled social validation these sites promote.
The lack of proactivity and open debate to address these issues has made it an easy decision for Cheetah Digital to temporarily suspend our ad spend with Facebook. We join many of our clients in the #StopHateforProfit movement, including Starbucks, The North Face, and Williams-Sonoma, and we encourage other marketers to consider shifting a portion of their budgets away from social advertising and instead invest in programs that foster direct customer relationships.
This is the turning point that consumers and marketers have both needed. With all of the noise on social feeds, only 14% of consumers now believe the info they read on social media is trustworthy. There’s an opportunity here to begin listening more than trying to be heard. The truth is, consumers want to purchase from brands who not only demonstrate social responsibility, but who also listen, request consent, and who take their privacy seriously. This is what’s called the trust economy, and it’s something all brands should be focusing on today.
It’s OK to Break Up with Social Media
Sure, social media ads made you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and maybe those report numbers gave you butterflies those first few times, but it’s OK to move on for now and work on yourself. According to Forrester, 41% of Millenials and Gen Z already spend less time on social media than in the past, and over 37% of online adults believe social media does more harm than good.
Instead, brands should balance their budget and reallocate money to other areas that can drive long-term growth. If we look at some of the brands who were first to the table when it came to pulling spend from Facebook—Starbucks and The North Face—there’s something they both have in common; award-winning loyalty programs and life-long advocacy with their consumers. They’ve taken the time to truly understand their consumers' preferences and desires so that they can develop personalized offerings for each individual. Marketers have an opportunity to listen to their consumers and let them help lead the conversation in telling you what it is they want. By investing in their loyalty program, brands can provide a value exchange in return for their consumer’s attention, engagement, data, and ongoing business. And this can all be done outside of social media. In fact, our recent research with eConsultancy found that email is crushing social ads by 134% when it comes to driving sales.
Now, we aren’t saying go out and cease all social media immediately, but we want to help you find a better way to use social media with less dependency on paid advertising. Instead, consider organically engaging with consumers in a way they want. We’re providing marketers with complimentary access to Forrester’s latest report “It’s OK to Break-Up with Social Media” to help you reevaluate social media and its place within your strategy.
In the latest Thinking Caps episode, our CMO Richard Jones and VP of Content Tim Glomb break down their thoughts on the marketer's role in the social media quagmire while also discussing what the "Trust Economy" should look like.
Kayla Siegmeier manages Cheetah Digital’s client-related content and strategic communications along with client advocacy and analyst relations. She has spent her career in B2C marketing with a focus on the development and execution of strategic loyalty programs, direct response, and brand marketing. She now brings that experience and passion for analyzing member behaviors to drive loyalty and engagement to Cheetah Digital, helping showcase the value of the Customer Engagement Suite to leading marketers through the stories of our clients. When not discussing the value of developing emotional loyalty, Kayla can be found enjoying the outdoors with her husband and two children.