Making social media just a little more real

First Instagram removed their number of likes and followers from posts. Instagram saw the benefits of the change and Facebook quickly followed suit. Twitter just recently made the drastic move of taking away the ‘tweet performance indication’ of likes and retweets too.

In a social world of influencers, voicing strong political opinions and portraying the ‘perfect life’, these changes mean the competition of life is downplayed. What has really provoked these extreme changes though, is the need for realism, and with that, the promotion of ‘healthy conversation’.

Promoting healthy conversation

It’s an interesting concept for companies worth billions who are sitting at the forefront of continually changing the game for marketers and consumers alike. These businesses make huge sums from the visibility of post popularity, but to appease their millennial audience, and those of us also interested in social values, their need to position their brands still plays a huge part.

So, where does the removal lead us? Into a world of political correctness and societal aspiration all the same, maybe just with a little less focus on vanity. And that can only be a good thing.

From a marketing perspective, the alteration means greater investigation into data and insights to fully understand the performance of a post. From a digital public relations perspective, and particularly the world of influencers, it certainly brings their value into question. While they are still likely to influence the consumers’ decision-making process, brand perception, customer journey or even brand engagement, tracking influencer success is now just that little bit harder.

Driving human connection

Twitter, who was apparently dying a slow painful death earlier this year but has bounced back to raging success, has also just recently implemented changes to their visibility of retweets and likes. Promoting healthy discussion is the exceptional reason they gave for the change.

It’s an interesting concept given the sway the likes of Donald Trump has on the stock market if he tweets something that he perhaps should have given more thought to, prior to hitting the share button. It’s also interesting to think what the likes of Greta Thunberg will continue to have on social media.

I think the answer is simple, though. Connection. Promoting healthy discussion is exactly what social media should be for, creating human connection rather than promoting online bullying and unrealistic aspirations. From a marketing perspective, this again has the power to influence the sales funnel, brand perception, customer journey and the decision-making process – by making the perception of life just a little more real.

Real brand engagement

One platform that hasn’t yet embraced the change is YouTube. While we recently received an email to let us know they are updating their terms and conditions, the idea of making the channel a little more ‘real’ is captivating.

Such varied content, and most of it already pretty real, it certainly is different to its social media platform counterparts. It has been responsible for making many a celebrity today and continues to be their social media platform of choice, so this may just be the future for the influencer. As a platform that a brand can position itself on, target its audience and spruik its social values, it has the power to be a key driver in many a brands’ success in the future.

As a consumer, I look forward to seeing how the real world the platforms are embracing will continue to ‘promote healthy conversation’ and drive human connection. As a marketer, I see no doubt the move to make social media channels ‘real life’ will change the influence of brands, their social values, the sales funnel and customer journey and most of all, the decision-making process each and every consumer uses in brand engagement.

As both consumer and marketer though, it’s a play I look forward to continue watching.

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