In our previous post, we asked about how a social media company might change its operations to accommodate changes to the platforms it uses. As we noted at the end of that article, it is a very broad question, with many sub-topics that are worthy of discussion.
That post focused upon ongoing changes at Twitter, and specifically on changes that seem to be making it more profitable. But since then, we have encountered new information about another ongoing shift. This one is much more related to the users of relevant platforms than to the platforms themselves. And it further highlights an area of concern that should be relevant to every social media company by now.
It’s no secret that people have largely lost trust in platforms like Facebook and Twitter, following high-profile data breaches and stories of coordinated manipulation of public sentiment. But did you know that the effects of these stories are very different across different cultures and geographic areas? That is the implication of a recent study co-authored by the Guardian newspaper, which examined perceptions of social media within different global markets.
The study found that users in most first-world countries have learned to report much less trust in the leading platforms. Britain leads the pack in skepticism, with France, Germany, and the US also earning high marks. Middle-income countries like Brazil, India, and Mexico are reportedly far more trusting.
This has potential implications for any social media company whose clients do business across different markets. A close understanding of the predominant trends in trust and skepticism could affect the ways in which such a company tries to engage with clients in those different markets. Britons may be less inclined to take social media communications at face value, at least until a rapport has developed between commercial accounts and their individual followers. But consumers in Mexico might be more willing to listen to what you have to say without questioning whether the message reached them by nefarious means.
That data from the Guardian study is limited, but it raises interesting questions about all the ways in which the same phenomenon might manifest. In theory, there’s no limit to how narrowly a social media company can divide its audience for the sake of exploiting local attitudes about trust and skepticism. The results of any forthcoming studies on the topic will only add to the roster of analytics that a social media company should be expected to look into before committing to a marketing campaign.
At the same time, such studies should serve as reminders that such analytics are rarely static. The attitudes that people in different markets have toward social media platforms are sure to continue changing as those platforms themselves change. If a social media company is already in the middle of a campaign when that happens, any effects should become noticeable very quickly.
A good social media company will be ready to recognize such changes even when they come as a surprise. Furthermore, they should always be ready to make adjustments in order to keep ahead of user perceptions and client expectations, on any platform.