Privacy and trust top trends as consumers change social use

An increased focus on privacy, joining smaller social media groups rather than posting updates publicly, and lack of trust in everything from voice technology to Facebook itself are just some of the real trends being seen in social media use in 2019.

Last month, social media experts Matt Navarra and Jenn Herman, Matt Popkes from The Brand Agency, and Sked Social’s Hugh Stephens took a deep dive into how people are actually using social media, addressing a 450-strong crowd at the State of Social conference in Perth.

The overwhelming conclusion? There’s a trust issue. Many of us, especially the young, are becoming increasingly wary of social media and more cautious in how we use it. Indeed, a survey of attendees, many of whom work in the communications business and all of whom had an interested in social media, found 85% don’t trust Facebook and 50% don’t think social platforms are committed to privacy.

Trust is gone

Herman said this was behind a move towards people using smaller groups, like Facebook or WhatsApp groups, to communicate.

“(These are places) where people feel like they are in a small, contained environment,” she said.

“People don’t want to post things publicly that everyone is going to see.

“We’re getting away from the massive public persona and getting things into the small places for smaller conversations.”

And that, said Navarra, is going to be incredibly challenging for brands, because they can’t access data in the way they have been able to since Facebook and the other tech giants emerged.

“So brands are going to need to have a much closer relationship with customers so they understand them,” he said.

He also suggested brands could use micro-influencers “people who have smaller followings but a great deal of trust with their audience” to help build and leverage trust.

Navarra said Facebook, in particular, is “forever tarnished with privacy problems” and as consumers became savvier about social media, they’re become more aware of these privacy issues.

“Certainly the younger generations, who are born and bred on social, are very aware of that fact,” he said.

The Algorithm

Governments, too, are aware of the problem and many “” including the UK and Australian governments “” are looking at ways to tackle regulations around social media. That could include forcing the likes of Facebook to reveal more about how their algorithms work.

Navarra said marketers and brands spend too much time worrying about how social media algorithms works, as they change all the time and the algorithm is individual to each user.

“You can spend hours trying to figure it out and it doesn’t really make you an efficient social media manager; you’re better off investing your time elsewhere,” he said.

Also, businesses are struggling to come to terms with artificial intelligence, Popkes said. While AI would have “massive implications” for everything marketers and brands do, many are needlessly anxious about this new technology coming through. He said brands should be exploring the opportunities presented by AI, but not rushing to invest in it, “just because it sounds important or seems important”.

Voice Technology & Cryptocurrency trends

There is a similar problem with voice technology, like Amazon Alexa, which is now being adopted by many consumers.

“Brands are rushing to be involved in that,” he said. “You have this adoption of a new technology, but we’re still in the early stages of maturity in terms of how people are using it.”

Facebook’s leap into the cryptocurrency space, through its announcements about Libra, was greeted cautiously by the expert panel ““ who believed consumers would also be wary of it.

“Venmo and PayPal were built as currency exchange platforms; Facebook wasn’t,” Herman said.

“Facebook wants you to do everything on Facebook and the only way they can evolve to that is to be able to allow you to complete transactions on the platform.

“A lot of people have a lot of concerns about it.”

Stephens who founded Schedugram, a platform to help Instagram users schedule their posts said he didn’t think there would be a serious uptake of Libra in the developed world, but “I think you’ll see it in developing countries, where hyperinflation is rife.”



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