Social media marketing companies have their work cut out for them when it comes to making their clients look trustworthy. This isn’t a commentary on the nature of e-commerce websites. It’s a commentary on the platforms on which social media companies must operate.
As we’ve pointed out before, there’s an ongoing struggle to reestablish credibility in the wake of scandals involving Facebook and other sites. And this threatens to have an impact on anyone who depends on those sites for marketing.
To their credit, Facebook executives have made a commitment to cleaning up at least some of the disinformation that has plagued their site. And Twitter has followed suit, routinely purging accounts that are deceptive or have no human operator behind them. But the takedowns have seemed endless. And in the meantime, public investigations are exposing deficiencies in the campaign to restore credibility.
Mark Zuckerberg appeared before a congressional committee again, where he was challenged over things like his company’s policy of allowing certain types of lies to remain on the site. Facebook potentially still provides politicians with a platform for lying to the public on a grand scale. And as long as that remains true, consumers can be forgiven for assuming the same is true of e-commerce websites and social media marketing companies.
It’s not our intention to paint a bleak picture of the present social media landscape. But we do think it’s our responsibility to help social media companies and their clients to understand the challenges that they face. As news stories continue to accumulate about this crisis in public confidence, we might be approaching the time when we must accept that the problem is permanent.
In other words, we might not be able to count on Zuckerberg or any other giant figure in the tech industry to re-establish confidence. Social media companies might have learn how to cope with the fact that they are operating on platforms that are inherently untrustworthy. And in that situation, it’s up to individual accounts and networks to establish trustworthiness for themselves.
When marketing with social media companies, it may not be helpful to say that the medium is the message. There may be no inherent value in having an active Facebook or Twitter account. And if people are going to automatically view those accounts with suspicion, then it’s entirely up to the account manager to cultivate a message and overcome that suspicion.
There may be different ways for social media companies to accomplish this. But we’ll give the broad strokes for now: It is increasingly important for social media marketing to convey real, verifiable information, and to do so on a regular basis. In this way, an account can develop a solid reputation for reliability. And then, when it makes important claims about a product or service, it won’t be plagued by as much suspicion as one might expect in 2019.