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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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Guide to Social Media Marketing for Businesses – with free content calendar template

Understand the benefits of social media and how it can help your business grow.

Everyone uses social media for different reasons – Some people are just nosey; they never like, swipe, comment or share but they are on every social network. Others use social media as an outlet to showcase creativity, express opinions, beliefs and ideas, to socialise, for entertainment – the list goes on.

But why should businesses invest time and money in social media marketing? There are so many different networks, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat…. with new ones continuing to appear. How do you know which channels are right for your business and will generate the best Return on Investment (ROI?) And how do you build a winning social media marketing strategy that will work for your business model?

Many questions to answer, but we will address them in this blog. But first, let’s start with the basics.

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING?

Social media marketing allows businesses to connect and interact with their target audience, build brand awareness and promote their products and services. This can be done using text, video, imagery, music, and graphics content which has to be designed to fit the platform, but most importantly can be tailored to different audiences.

However, pushing out personalised content is only beneficial if you have a plan, set goals, budgets, track and measure the results achieved. The strategy will vary based on the social networks your audience spend most of their time on.

Let’s take a look at the construct of some of the main networks:

Instagram logo_neosevenInstagram

1 billion users, made up primarily of millennials with a business to consumer (B2C) focus. Great for user generated content (UGC) and as an advertising platform.

facebook_neoseven Facebook

2.2 billion users, made up of Gen X and millennials with a B2C focus. Great for brand awareness and as an advertising platform.

twitter-neoseven Twitter

335 billion users, made up primarily of millennials with a  B2C and B2B focus. Great for customer service and PR.

linkedin_neosevenLinkedin

645 million users, made up of millennials, Gen X and Baby boomers with a B2B focus. Great for business development and building business relationships.

Pinterest_neosevenPinterest

250 million users, made up primarily of older millennials and baby boomers with a B2C focus. Great for creative inspiration and visual advertising.

youtube_neosevenYoutube

1.9 billion users, made up primarily of millennials and Gen Z with a B2C focus. Great for entertainment, brand awareness and knowledge sharing ‘how-to’ content.

tiktok_neosevenTikTok

800 million users, made up primarily of Gen Z and a surprisingly friendly place for B2C marketing. Great for promotion to niche communities and building brand trust.

snapchat_neosevenSnapchat

300 million users, made up primarily of Gen Z with a B2C focus. Great for advertising and brand awareness.

THE BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

Consider that there are now over 3 billion people globally using social media networks. More people have started following brands than celebrities, with over 80% of users following at least 1 brand on Instagram alone.

Here are a few reasons why your business should use social media marketing.

Neoseven_Brand-awarenessIncrease brand awareness

With almost half of the world’s population actively using social media platforms, it is a fast, effective and inexpensive way to reach new and targeted potential customers. It is proven that sharing branded content about your business, products and services improves brand awareness more quickly than traditional media.

It gets people looking at your brand even when they are not thinking about your brand, products or services.

Tip: Ensure the visual elements of your platforms are on brand and well represented.

Neoseven_lead generation

 

 

 

Lead generation

Over 60% of Instagrammers said that they have discovered new products on the platform and have clicked through to the website. Promoting your products and services on social platforms is a simple way to generate new leads, help with conversion and increase sales.

Many social platforms provide advertising formats designed specifically for lead generation advertising -, this is an important benefit for businesses. You can also sell products through your social platform by enabling Facebook or Insta Shop.

Tip: Ensure that there are links back to your website or products within your bio’s, profile and posts. Add a smart bio to your Instagram account using an app like tailwind to create a branded landing page that sends a stream of traffic to your website.

 

Neoseven_blog_trust

 

Builds trust and loyalty

One of the key benefits of social media is the ability to create real human connections, because consumers are more willing to purchase from brands they trust. Humanise your brand and show customers and potential customers who you are, what you stand for and how you are looking out for your customers and employees.

You can also show how existing customers are using, enjoying, and benefiting from your products and services. By connecting and engaging with your followers, responding to their questions and comments you’ll be able to build brand advocates and lasting relationships.

Tip: Ensure responses to questions and comments are genuine so followers don’t think they are talking to a robot. Show appreciation through giveaways, shout outs and re-posts 

Neoseven_blog_leadership

 

Establish thought leadership

We live in the information age and social media provides businesses with the opportunity to establish themselves as thought leaders – the go to source for information on specific industry related topics. This is also another way to build brand advocacy and trust which increases the lifetime value of your customers.

The more you use social media platforms to post, share or discuss relevant or trending topics, the more this will benefit organic search authority. Linkedin in particular is the social media platform that is designed to help businesses and professionals establish themselves as thought leaders.

Tip: Those with expert knowledge on particular topics should position themselves as the resident experts and post quality content on their professional profile and link that to their business profile. Establishing this link will indirectly connect people with your business.

 

CREATING A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

The first step in creating a social media strategy is understanding the business objectives and aligning the social media goals with them. Be sure to create metrics for measuring performance and the return on investment. Some important metrics are Awareness, Engagement and Conversion.

Categorise your audience and buyer personas

Understanding your target audience, from demographic information to hobbies, job status, and shopping preferences is key to creating a strategy and content that will appeal to them. For example, TAG Heuer has positioned itself as a luxury and innovative brand known for its beautiful designs, prestige and performance. Their main target audience consists of affluent individuals, between 35 and 54 from high-income groups.

With this information you will be able to create tailored content to attract your ideal customer, engage with then and convert them into sales. The rate of return on your social media and advertising spend will also increase by not wasting resources on consumers who are less likely to buy from you.

Identify your competition

Conduct an in-depth competitor analysis to identify who your main or direct competitors are. See what they are doing well (or badly) and learn from them, find opportunities or gaps in their offering that you can potentially fill. This data will help define your social media strategy and set more realistic goals.

Remember, after your competitor analysis you need to monitor what they are doing, what they are posting, where they are posting, level of engagement and what people are saying about them. Equip yourself with a social media management tool like Hootsuite to monitor hashtags, keywords and social accounts in real time. This will provide vital information to allow you to adjust your strategy if necessary.

Conduct a social audit

With over 3 billion social media users globally and multiple social platforms, it is important to ensure you are using the ones that are best suited for your business and target audience. Otherwise there will be some holes in your strategy and you will be at risk of wasting time and money. Conducting a social media audit will help you determine which social networks your target audiences use and by extension which ones you should focus your efforts on. Also you will identify their content preferences and what type of content is and isn’t working.

You can go even deeper to get a more complete picture and examine traditional metrics including:

  • Number of followers
  • Average response rates and response times (likes, shares, comments)
  • Click through rate
  • Average number of video views
  • Post reach (impressions)
  • Mentions, reposts and re-tweets

After completing the social media audit, you should check that the content (video, photo and text) is aligned with your brand guidelines and there is consistency and quality control across all your channels.

Neoseven_contentCreate a content calendar 

The content you create and share with you followers is important, but having content pillars and a schedule for when you will post to get maximum impact is essential. The content pillars help when creating content; what graphic, image or video to use and what to say. For example, for a brand that sells designer shorts, the pillars could be to promote:

  • Health and fitness
  • Brand building
  • Product features
  • Fashion

Now that you have your talking points, you can get creative when designing your content. The next step is to build a calendar to detail the message and supporting image or video, what days and time of day you will post, what channels you will be posting on, the KPI for each post (i.e. drive traffic to the site, brand awareness, trigger conversation, promotional etc). If you are just launching your social media channels your focus should be to educate, inform and entertain your audience and to raise the profile and awareness of your brand.

You may be thinking that this is a lot and posting on multiple platforms can be a nightmare. There are a few social media management tools (Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer) that will allow you to write captions, hashtags, add images, videos and links for your posts. Then simply select the future date and time you want them to be published and you can carry on with your day.

 

Analysis and reporting

The algorithms that govern how each social network sorts and displays the content of each user are based on relevancy and not based on the time published. They also prioritise which post a user sees in their feed or story first by the likelihood that they will want to see it. Therefore, defining your social media KPI’s will allow you to determine if what you are doing is working or needs refining to achieve the desired results. Each social network provides analytics functions which can be used to generate reports on Reach, Likes, Follows, Impressions, Tags, Mentions, Shares, Profile Visits. Looking through multiple reports can be time consuming and also tedious, we recommend producing a reporting template where all the metrics that are needed for decision making can be made easily accessible.

Your social media strategy should be a live document that is visible to the team so they are aware of what’s happening and can work together to achieve the social and business goals.

Enter your details and we will email you a download link to access a free social media content calendar template.

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