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Social Media Data Wars: Companies vs. Governments

With more and more users signing on each day, social media platforms are playing an important role in the new battle concerning the control of data. They are able to hold data on their users that not only affects privacy laws, but could fundamentally affect democracy and the way it operates. This has given them an increasing amount of political power on the world stage – much to the dismay of our governments. But how does this affect us?

 

How do social media platforms control our data?

Social media data on phone

Social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are able to track users’ phone usage, location, and build up a profile of its customer, helping them target advertisements towards users at the time they are most likely to engage with them. This is obviously great for businesses who use the data to increase their reach, followers, website traffic and revenue. It’s also brilliant for users, with 91% of consumers saying they’re more likely to shop with brands who provide relevant offers and recommendations through targeted ads. But despite the benefits, this data can be also be used to build up a view of user’s information by social media companies, both personal and political.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was an example of such a data breach, where 87 million Facebook users’ personal data was harvested through a third-party app. This data was used to target political advertisements, potentially contributing to voter decisions made in the US Presidential election and the Brexit vote. This shows exactly why governments across the globe have been concerned about the power of social media companies, as these kind of data breaches can be used to affect the democratic decisions of voters.

 

TikTok and China

TikTok on phone

As the potential political power of social media companies grow, the concern of governments also does hand in hand. This applies not just to data breaches, but some countries are worried about these companies working too closely with their governments.

As a Chinese app, there has been scepticism globally about the nature of TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been growing its user base, so some other governments are showing concerns about how they handle their data and whether this could be passed onto China. Along with security concerns about Huawei, who have recently been removed from the UK’s 5G network, Chinese technology companies are having to fight to prove their independence from their government. Despite this, governments are still concerned about TikTok, with India banning them and 38 other Chinese apps, and other countries like Australia and the US also considering a similar ban.

 

TikTok does seems like it is fighting back against the government however, with its recent exit from Hong Kong looking like an attempt at removing association with them. This happened after China introduced a new security law in Hong Kong, restricting the freedom of speech and potentially having a knock-on effect on the governance of social media. The law can even give police the power to seize the servers of any platform that refuses to take down a social media post, so it’s no surprise that TikTok is leaving the area.

Other social media platforms can also be seen to fight back against governments including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, who have said that they will ‘pause’ any requests for data information from governments whilst they review their legal position on the matter.

Despite this, it would be wrong to paint a picture of social media companies continuously fighting against their governments and legitimate data laws. Facebook typically works with law enforcement, although their current ‘pause’ does affect all of the network’s platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp.

 

The economic importance of social media advertising

social media on phone and laptop

One thing to remember however, is how important social media advertising is to both the global economy and the revenue of social media companies. With COVID-19 driving most businesses online, far more business is being conducted through social media than ever before. So, although governments are concerned about the power that this data gives social media companies, it seems unlikely that these companies would use this data irresponsibly, provoking data laws that may affect the high revenue they collect from advertising.

Similarly, with the growing importance on e-commerce and social media advertising, world governments are now relying on the economic prosperity that social media marketing will bring in the wake of COVID-19. This means that even if they don’t like the power that social media companies have from gathering data, they are now beginning to rely on them to use that data to fund their economies.

Given the stalemate between the two, social media companies should continue to act with integrity by protecting user data, and governments should implement effective regulations protecting this data whilst allowing these platforms to prosper. As a result, at Neoseven we believe that the positive economic effect social media has for businesses during these difficult times means that we should all continue to make the most of their services by advertising and purchasing online.

 

If you would like some advice on how to go about social media advertising, or maybe don’t know where to start, pop us an email or send us a message here.

 

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Why is sustainable marketing important now more than ever?

What is sustainable marketing?

Sustainability is about continuity, adopting behaviours and practises to ensure that the planet is inhabitable, and resources are available for future generations. In much the same way, sustainable marketing is about longevity, swapping short-term gain for long-term success.

33% of consumers see brands as responsible for the environment

Sustainable marketing involves not only your products, but your brand’s image and strategy. Responsibility and accountability for social and environmental issues are becoming common values that most customers expect brands to display. Addressing environmental and social issues in your brand and finding sustainable alternatives is a great way to do your bit. However, your business should be aware of what it takes to achieve a fully sustainable business model and be ready to commit. It takes more than just aligning your brand with a topical issue.

Social and environmental issues exist over longer timeframes than most campaigns. These issues are not seasonal and as such need to be incorporated into a long-term plan. It is unreasonable to expect a brand to immediately shift to 100% sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and delivery of products. Customers understand that meaningful change takes time. So…

Neoseven Marketing - Set GoalsSet objectives and goals

By creating a set of goals that detail what you want your brand to accomplish you are communicating honesty and authenticity to your customers, whilst keeping yourself accountable. This means being honest with what your business can afford to change, it may require a short-term loss to fully adopt new sustainable practices which will lead to long-term gain (e.g. switching to 100% recycled packaging).

61% of consumers are more likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly 

 

Neoseven Marketing - ConsistencyBe consistent

Be specific about what your brand is doing to be sustainable. One aspect of your brand may be sustainable, but you need to take accountability for what is not, or what needs work. This will avoid harsh scrutiny and negative social media posts damaging your reputation, ensuring customers see your brand as an active figure in addressing a social and environmental issue.

60% of consumers find authenticity to be the most appealing quality of their favourite brands

 

Neoseven Marketing - strategyCreate a long-term marketing strategy

Through long-term, thought out strategies, sustainable marketing can result in higher value products, successful sales and loyal customers. A sustainable marketing strategy will allow you time to establish your business and maintain sales without reverting to fads. This is what Kevin Roberts, previous CEO of Saatchi&Saatchi called ‘Lovemarks’ – loyalty beyond reason. This involves moving beyond transactional consumption to create an emotional dynamic between consumers and brands. Long-term success is built on principles. This means no repeated discounts, clickbait or hidden T&Cs. These short-term techniques diminish your brand’s value and lose you returning customers.

Neoseven Marketing - CSRDeliver your plan responsibly

It is important to remember marketing has a carbon footprint too. Ensure that printed campaigns, billboards and flyers are not created from materials that are treated with harmful or un-recyclable elements. Prioritise digital marketing by communicating with targeted advertising, social media, blogs, newsletters and email marketing. Not only will regular social media and inbound marketing improve your SEO, but tailoring your messages to your customers, showing them relevant, quality content will increase brand value, authenticity and humanise its messages – attracting loyal customers that support your brand.

 

If you are ready for your brand to take the next step and embark on a sustainable marketing strategy for long-term success, contact neoseven today for a free consultation.

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How to work from home whilst maintaining your work ethic and creativity

With the current circumstances finding a lot of us now working from home, it’s a difficult transition period for many who normally work in a busy office. Our team has been using a variety of different methods to keep up morale, as well as ways to make sure our marketing creativity is still flowing despite working from home in different locations.

We asked each of our employees what they have been doing to stay bright, bubbly and upbeat during these trying times.

 

remote working

Olando

I have worked from home for many years now and even though it was only one or two days a week, I realised that I had to separate my personal and work spaces. Working in my bedroom or TV room started affecting me relaxing in those spaces, so I set up a space at my house that I only use for work. Now I can watch a movie or go to bed without thinking about work.

I also found that when I first started to work from home I didn’t really come out until the end of the day. I started getting aches and pains all over my body, now I ensure I take regular breaks and walks around the house and stretch regularly. I have even set aside 15 minutes every day to do a bit of meditation to clear my head, it really helps me complete my work day and spreads over into my personal time.

Finally I set a start and end time. It is easy to start work as soon as you jump out of bed or respond to emails while having dinner, but that does not mean it is a healthy habit. If your work and personal time merge into one it makes it more difficult for your mind to truly switch off and enjoy your personal time.

 

working from home tips

Gemma

I think one of the key things for me when I work from home is daylight, it really helps to prevent tiredness, plus looking out the window every so often is a great way to avoid headaches. Obviously we’re not talking to people in person so making time for small screen breaks is really helpful when you’re working by yourself.

I also try to move where I work every so often. Sometimes I work at my desk in my room, and when I find that I’m feeling claustrophobic I’ll move to the kitchen table. Some people may not be able to do this because of family at home, but if you’re used to working in a loud environment then you know methods to drown people out, I know I do! I find that moving around just helps me feel like I haven’t been in the same room every day all week, it definitely increases my work ethic and makes me feel less lethargic.

Regular breaks are also so important when you work from home. Sometimes you can think that being away from your desk means that you’re slacking, but making time to go speak to your family, play with your dog or make a cup of tea for 5-10 minutes throughout the day recharges your batteries more than you realise.

 

working from home tips

Ellie

I try to keep as much of my normal routine as possible when I work from home; waking up at the same time, keeping business hours and having routines such as breaks, lunch hours, ending the day at 5:30 as usual.

Getting outside is also really important. Not always for a walk but just stepping out into the garden or getting some fresh air through the house is a nice way of taking a moment for yourself and staying alert. A key thing for me is also remembering that social distancing doesn’t mean social detachment. Keeping in touch with colleagues and friends, having catch ups over tea and doing Zoom pub quizzes and weekly catch ups to replace usual chats and work socials.

I also try not to look at the news too much. Being constantly bombarded by negative news surrounding Covid, memes about Covid and most conversations about Covid is a bit much and really impacts my mood. I’ve been avoiding those topics during the day and maybe just watching the headlines every couple days to stay informed but not overwhelmed.

working from home tips

Ruhi

I find that it’s really important to sit somewhere that allows you to work from home as if you’re in the office – with a table and a chair that I can put my laptop and notebooks on. Wherever I am, I try to allow as much air as possible by opening the windows or doors, depending on how cold it is! This allows me to get into the right frame of mind so that I can focus properly on the work that I am doing.

To work from home can mean that the lines between when to work and rest get blurred, so I find having a set schedule really helps. This way, I can take regular breaks and properly switch off when I am done for the day. When I’m taking a break, it can be nice to do some exercise. Trying to keep active helps you to move around so you aren’t just sitting in one spot all day. It also helps to have a cup of tea handy throughout!

 

 

 

There we have it! Neoseven team tips to stay alert, creative, on top of things and most importantly to care for our mental wellbeing whilst we work from home. If you have any more tips on this topic, feel free to share them with us!

Stay safe everyone!

For any further advice, why not ask over a cup of coffee? Give us a ring.

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