The currency of 'meaningful interactions'
In January Facebook announced they were taking a new direction to strive towards more ‘meaningful interactions’ on the platform. It was a move to strengthen relationships between users and business pages. Since then, however, we’ve seen controversy over data privacy and a growing lack of trust in the protection of personal data with such scandals including Facebook themselves.
Trusting a brand (and a social media platform!) is key to building a connection with consumers and although companies are now able to reach people on a more personal level than ever before thanks to the likes of Facebook and Snapchat, the exposure of a brand’s working practices and ethics is also heightened.
The internet has without question given rise to people power. 2017 saw several huge protests across social media for example #boycottpepsi and #deleteuber in response to these brands producing insensitive content, evidencing poor employee treatment and having questionable political connections. In the social media age, brands with opaque ethics have nowhere to hide.
However, this exposure can also offer huge opportunities for brands who have a genuine purpose, positive values and a strong moral compass. Quick wins with vouchers or samples are still working, but an engaging and entertaining glimpse into the brand itself to create a personal connection is a growing way which brands can be seen to be more authentic and therefore trustworthy.
One recent example of this is McDonald’s personal response to a Tweet complaining about their food photography being misleading. Instead of simply replying to their customer directly, they produced a video of a food photography session to give an insightful look into the brand. This served as a marketing video, prompted by their online community based on their needs from the brand.
Strong, personal content brings customers to a brand in waves, with consumers willingly offering their email address, Facebook ‘likes’ and money for a glimpse of more. Many artists and lifestyle bloggers know this only too well – it is how they are conducting their content-based businesses online. The content they produce is engaging, promoting an interaction. The interaction is meaningful thereby instilling trust. This influencer marketing model of meaningful and authentic content creation to drive sales is a trend that sees no slowing down.
Some companies are already jumping onboard with these ‘influencers’ to catch the wave using their reach to drive sales and traffic to their brand and products. However, this is not a full-proof method and the content still needs to be engaging and unique. As the new Facebook algorithm suggests, spending money to push an already successful piece of content will be more successful than putting money and time on weak content.
Influencers have paved the way and set the bar to what people are prepared to engage with online and the strength of content needed to have fruitful and engaging social media channels. Those who buy their social media followings are usually found out through poor engagement. There are now even apps that are specifically designed to expose phoney followings. The woke and the young are especially switched on to using such technology.
Content is king in 2018 and the Facebook algorithm change will likely continue to level the playing field for businesses to engage online. No matter what size a business is, the public are making it even more obvious every day that companies need to spend a little more time on the content campaigns they create if they are going to be trusted.