The number of smartphone users in the world will reach around 2.5 billion by next year, according to Statista.com. What’s more, Facebook’s own recent stats say a whopping 1.45 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily. Social media, it seems, is stronger than ever in terms of reach and popularity – and advertisers echo this, still pumping money into these platforms.
Time for a re-think?
But, the latest Reuters Tomorrow’s News 2018 research reveals that 85% of global executives do not see social media as a primary news source in the future. And that’s also reflected in the fall in number of people actively sharing news on social media (49% 2017; 38% 2018). The fresh data also shows a decline in trust, with only 24% agreeing that they trust the news shared via social networks compared with 32% in 2016. So: is it time for agencies and brands to rethink social channels in their marketing mix?
Trust, above all
The research also shows that 85% of people agree that: "Fake news has made me doubt the reliability of news stories on social media" – up from 80% last year. The recent manipulation of user data by Facebook has reignited the debate about, and belief in, the importance of trust. Consumers are uneasy with platforms using personal information to decide what appears on their social channels. What’s more, even on social-media platforms, consumers are most likely to trust content posted by well-known news publishers above any other source, according to 70% of Reuters respondents.
Who’s in control?
Reuters latest analysis is a reflection of global businessmen and women. The majority (87%) of these influential executives agree that Google and Facebook should do more to control fake news or inappropriate content on their platforms. Not only that, 81% think Facebook and Google should be held accountable for content their platforms carry; while nearly everyone (97%) agrees companies should be transparent about the data they collect on their customers and how they use it.
Trust and transparency are the key to building good customer relations, with two thirds agreeing that they would be prepared to share data with companies they trust.
Winning the consumers of the future
Now that consumers have digested the Cambridge Analytica, fake news and misplaced ads controversies that have dogged social media platforms for the past year or more, it’s increasingly clear that honesty and transparency will win over the consumers of the future.
Fundamentally, if people no longer trust social media, that’s a growing problem for businesses and brands. It may be a headache for advertisers and agencies to re-think strategies but consumers are demanding a remedy.
You can read the full Tomorrow’s News Report from Reuters Plus here