It’s no wonder that three quarters of all social media users limit their digital footprint, citing misuse of their data being the biggest issue. Furthermore, two thirds of users don’t trust the information that they receive from social media – with rates as high as 82% in Great Britain, and 70% in the US. Read more about it here.
Welcome to the post-truth era, where fake news is alive and well – and we retreat into private groups and message threads (AKA: Dark Social).
With engagement levels declining and new user numbers stalling, more than ever, Facebook is taking two courses of action;
1. Providing more transparency and control of your personal data
In recent days Facebook has launched a new tool that allows its user to access and control their Off-Facebook activity; other websites, apps and digital services that feed data back into Facebook to provide a more complete picture a users browsing habits. Read more about it here.
2. Diversifying its platform functionality to provide additional value
Facebook is looking towards its eastern counterparts (Tencent, WeChat) to reinvent itself, building out new functionality designed to engage and fulfil specific aspects parts of our lives.
The tech giant continues to branch out into dating/matchmaking services, and even more ambitiously (considering the massive trust deficit), currency, with the introduction of the digital crypto-currency and wallet, called Libra and Calibra respectively.
The Facebook-endorsed digital currency is expected to be rolled out in 2020. It’s creators have gone to massive lengths to establish an independent foundation based in Switzerland, as well as partner with some of the world’s most powerful finance, ecommerce and tech brands: Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Ebay, Uber, Lyft, to build trust in this new financial domain.
Interestingly, they’ve also stepped onto the front foot and made public promises that any newly generated commerce data will not be linked to their advertising platform. This may be the case, however it is speculated that if they can in some way correlate the performance of their advertising platform to real-world transaction data, them we can assume that their advertising charges will increase accordingly.
The successful rollout and adoption of this currency is yet to be determined. What we do know is that we will be able to buy goods and services, or seamlessly transfer money around the globe to our friends, or even paywave our morning coffee with Libra instead of local currency using the WhatsApp or Messenger, leaving regulators and tax offices everywhere scrambling to define their position.
But that’s enough about Facebook. There’s always going to be headlines, good and bad, when a company grows and disrupts our lives to the extent it has.
The real growth story in Australia.
Over a 12 month period, LinkedIn experienced 10% growth, adding 1M people to the platform and its advertising audience. There are a few key reasons for this;
1. Timing – Their brand and offering appeals to social media savvy millennials, a generation who are currently maturing and entering the professional working phase of their lives.
2. Diversification – Expanding the offering beyond job searching and corporate profiles, including the introduction of a world class Learning & Development hub with the acquisition of Lynda now branded as LinkedIn Learning
3. Platform Investment – Continual user experience improvements, advancements in performance and functionality, and an increasingly sophisticated advertising platform.
Taking from their 2019 product roadmap, expect to see a more powerful audience targeting on the advertising platform, including interest-based targeting, audience templates, and a lookalike functionality which will allow advertisers to connect with audiences similar to their customers or website visitors.
And as the world retreats from the newsfeed to private messaging we will see Conversation Ads with a distinct chat-bot style format enter Messaging to complement the InMail Ad formats.
We can also expect the analytics dashboard to get a shot in the arm with increased demographic and firmographic profiling, brand engagement measurement tools, and content guidance.
And lastly, they’ve made a massive push toward video, introducing square and vertical formats, including the release of LinkedIn Live for Pages allowing brands and influencers to share live streams.
There’s seemingly lots happening right now on Australia’s fastest growing social platform.
Ok, so in summary…
In Australia we’re mobile crazy, with more phones than people. Two thirds of the population are on Facebook but engagement levels are falling, with the platform being used primarily for events, private groups and messaging. Users are seemingly keeping their profile because you sort of need one to prove your digital existence – Therefore Facebook is trying to reinvent itself.
LinkedIn is fast catching up in terms of its capabilities and this rollout is timing well in terms of attracting millennial users who are getting older and trying to be more professional.
Fewer people trust the information that they receive in their newsfeeds and are happily retreating into private groups and message threads. This splintering into private micro communities with their friends – in a phenomenon called Dark Social – is prompting social media companies to dream up new ways for brands and advertisers to reach them, or consider different monetisation models.
So what does all this mean for the future of communication and how are brands approaching this new media landscape?
Two words; trust and authenticity.
Trust is becoming more important to consumers because of their growing concerns about product experience, including the fast pace of innovation and their increasing reliance on brands for automation; customer experience, including brands collecting consumers’ personal data to track and target advertising to them; and brands’ impact on society, including consumers’ expectation that brands will help express their values – Edelmen Trust Barometer. Read more about it here.
Brands that are seemingly winning are those that are more transparent and speak their minds. They’re authentic and stand-up for what they truly believe in, shouting back no matter the consequence, and in doing so strengthen trust and loyalty with customers whose personal values are aligned, even if that means losing others.