Privacy concerns, election manipulation, toxic environments, and an ever-increasing flood of uninteresting content make it clear social media cannot go on as is. Social media is a necessary evil for marketing at this point, but the end of social media can’t be far off. Not only is there pressure to post interesting and beautiful content (i.e. socially endorsed navel-gazing), but there are serious concerns over privacy and social manipulation.
Especially worrisome for marketing, social media ads are becoming less and less effective each year. Online ads are interruptions to your customers’ time that they do not appreciate.
Don’t worry, though, it isn’t all bad news. You can get ahead of the inevitable decline of social media with advergames (advertising games). Games that are designed around your brand promote it seamlessly, while providing an entertaining experience for your customers.
Let’s take a look, first, at the current state of social media and why it can’t last. Though it may seem like something out of one of Orwell’s novels, election manipulation via social media is a real thing.
Unless you’ve sworn off the news altogether, you’ve likely heard about the Facebook data harvesting scandal. Whistleblowers revealed that Cambridge Analytica utilized a loophole in Facebook data sharing to influence American voters.
According to The Guardian, the data harvesting “raises urgent new questions about Facebook’s role in targeting voters in the US presidential election. It comes only weeks after indictments of 13 Russians by the special counsel Robert Mueller which stated they had used the platform to perpetrate “information warfare” against the US.” Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was called to testify in front of the U.S. Congress because of the data misuse.
This blatant manipulation of the public affects social media users’ willingness to post on the sites, knowing that their information can be analyzed by third parties and used against them.
Is there such a thing as online privacy?
Social media has a concerning amount of information on us. You may not think that you share overly personal information, but election manipulation via Facebook demonstrated the extent of personal information that can be gleaned from our profiles. Cambridge Analytica was able to predict a person’s mood and influenceability based on their social media profile. Cambridge Analytica influenced social media users through models they built to “exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons”. It’s astounding that this private and even subconscious information was used to influence the presidential elections of a country, but that’s the state of online privacy at this point in time.
Facebook isn’t the only social media platform affected by privacy concerns; Google+ experienced a data leak that potentially affected up to 500,000 accounts, allowing third-party applications to access information marked as private, although Google said it had found “no evidence that any profile data was misused”. Seeing Facebook in the hot seat, Google chose not to disclose the leak for six months - a sneaky, albeit intelligent, business decision. By the time the leak became public, the issue of data misuse was less of a shock - Facebook had already taken the hit and broken the fall for Google.
At some point, though, enough is enough and social platforms will have to face the consequences of their negligence - a loss of trust that risks rendering them obsolete.
Privacy and election manipulation aren’t the only concerns with social media platforms; they are often host to toxic environments. Cyber bullying is such a serious problem nowadays that the U.S. government has an official website about the issue. An estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in 2016, according to a survey conducted by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
In 2017, Netflix first aired its highly popular and sometimes controversial series, 13 Reasons Why. The series focuses on the effects of cyber and in-person bullying, in addition to other important topics such as sexual assault and depression.
Part of the problem with toxic environments that can be created by social media is comparing your real life with everyone else’s highlight reel. This issue doesn’t just affect teens, even successful business people who seem to “have it all” are influenced by their peers’ picture-perfect snaps.
We all have to remember to take the images we see with a grain of salt. How well do our own Instagram feeds really reflect our day to day lives?
Besides the comparison vortex, there’s also the issue of the maintenance of your online image and the constant effort required to stay up to date. Documenting every Insta-worthy moment of your life and curating your personal online gallery can be exhausting. When the costs start to outweigh the benefits, a social media platform is nearing the end of its days.
Along with the negative culture of wanting to keep up with the Jones’, there’s an abundance of uninteresting content on social media as well. How many more pictures of someone’s breakfast do you want to see (unless it’s your own Insta-perfect brunch, of course)?
While people leave social media due to toxic environments and uninteresting content, you lose more and more of your audience.
As pervasive as Facebook and Instagram are now, just think back to the days when Myspace reigned all. Social platforms may be powerful, but they aren’t immune to the effects of time. Audiences are becoming savvier to the risks of sharing personal information on social media sites.
And as people become more reticent to share personal information, there is less usage of social media platforms. No content = obsolete platform.
Even if your audience is on social media (for the time being), ads are not effective means of reaching them on these sites. Social media ads are obstacles to your customers’ online experience, and the stats show the public’s dislike of being targeted in these spaces.
The post-social media solution: games!
So what’s a company to do? Get ahead of the competition by embracing the best post-social media solution: advergames.
Games are a playful way to engage your customers and improve their experience with your brand. You can use games to engage your customers in an unexpected way, rather than talking at them.
Games can be marketed through social media, but they don’t need to rely on it. You can promote a game in your business (where it doesn’t face any competition!) or use it to give your loyalty app a makeover.
And hey, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook. We’re on there, for now…