Social Media Marketing and advertising Is a Joke – It is Time We Acknowledge It

The greatest point that ever happened to social media marketing was the hacking of the 2016 US election of Donal Trump by the Russians. Why? Simply because it laid bare what many in social media marketing has known for a prolonged, prolonged time: that social media platforms are a joke, their valuations are primarily based on imaginary users, and their integrity lies somewhere in between Lucifer and that guy who eats people’s faces in the movies.

For advertising and marketing consultants this kind of as myself, recommending current social platforms this kind of as Fb, Twitter, and Instagram has been more and more hard, because -quite frankly- several of us don’t believe in the metrics.

And why should we? Facebook will not.

This is from Facebook’s 2017 SEC filing (emphasis mine):

The quantities for our key metrics, which include our daily energetic customers (DAUs), regular monthly lively users (MAUs), and typical revenue per consumer (ARPU), are calculated employing internal organization info based mostly on the activity of person accounts. Whilst these quantities are dependent on what we believe to be sensible estimates of our consumer foundation for the applicable period of time of measurement, there are inherent issues in measuring usage of our items across massive on the internet and cellular populations about the globe.
The premier info administration company in the globe says it isn’t going to genuinely know if its numbers are correct. Estimates? What marketing expert wants believed benefits soon after the truth?

It gets worse. Emphasis mine:

In the fourth quarter of 2017, we estimate that copy accounts may have represented about 10% of our throughout the world MAUs. Creative agency imagine the percentage of replicate accounts is meaningfully increased in establishing markets this kind of as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as when compared to a lot more designed marketplaces. In the fourth quarter of 2017, we estimate that bogus accounts may have represented approximately three-four% of our around the world MAUs.
Let that sink in. Facebook is admitting that “approximately” ten% of its month-to-month energetic end users are faux. Apparently, they don’t mention what percentage of their everyday lively end users are fake.

And that’s the difficulty with social media. You never know what’s true and what’s fake any more.

Social media has not been true for a even though.

As marketers and advertisers, we pleasure ourselves on precision. In the olden instances of advertising and marketing, we obsessed in excess of score numbers of tv set displays, readership for print promotions, and supply accomplishment costs for immediate mail.

In all circumstances, the platforms of the day had been seriously audited. You realized, with fair certainty, was the audiences ended up for any particular medium or channel due to the fact there was generally a level of review somewhere for the figures.

Standard media this kind of as radio, Tv, and print had been about long ample that there ended up countless numbers of scenario studies one could research the good results or failures of specific campaigns. Since these mediums were part of the public file, it was effortless to perform backward to see what combine of media and spending budget labored and what didn’t.

As an sector, we could rapidly set up benchmarks for accomplishment – not just primarily based on our private ordeals- but in the collective experiences of really obvious methods laid bare for everybody to dissect.

Properly, that all went out the window with social media.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram’s quantities had been often a joke.

In times of yore, business valuation was based on revenues, belongings, and human capital, and overall performance.

That all modified when a person arrived up with the notion of “everyday lively end users.”

The race to obtain customers turned the driving power for social media platforms in a way that we have never witnessed before. Now, the obsession with person growth opened the door to promoting and marketing fraud on a scale that just wasn’t possible earlier.

Let us get some thing distinct: any platform that enables for folks to produce 1000’s of bogus profiles so other individuals can acquire likes, followers, retweets, or shares is poisonous to advertisers and brands alike.

Now, I recognize that the word “makes it possible for” is undertaking a great deal of perform in that sentence, so let me grow a little bit what I indicate.

I do not think I will get several arguments when I say that -regardless of what I think of them- the most successful social media platforms on the world are also some of the most refined technological enterprises on the world. They have -arguably- some of the greatest AI close to, as their whole company types revolve close to being ready to crunch quantities, facts, and obscure pieces of information tens of millions of occasions a 2nd.

They are also enormous businesses, with an military of attorneys and IP bulldogs waiting around to safeguard their manufacturer towards any hostile exterior forces.

So make clear to me, how is it, that even soon after all we have observed in the information people can still purchase Fb likes, or Twitter followers, or Instagram followers?

The explanation: it was always a rip-off. And we got conned alongside with everybody else.

If your company is valued on your quantity of end users and the action of these users on your platform, what do you treatment if they are bogus or not? If you did, you’d employ the service of an armada of auditors to guarantee the integrity of your userbase. I do not think they at any time did and will never do this.