Consumers Look to Brands to Fix Social Media

A recently released study by leading global communications marketing firm ِEdelman revealed some damning statistics regarding users’ perception of social platforms, most apparent in the fact that four out of ten 10 social media users have deleted at least one account in the last year over privacy fears. 62% of users also expressed their belief that additional regulation is required.

This should come as a surprise to no one. In recent years, social media platforms have spiraled into a pandemonium. What’s interesting about the survey is that users think that both the safety of their data as well as the content being propagated on the platform to be equally important and in need of fixing.

Better Brands than the Government

Some 60% of respondents pointed the finger at social media companies when it came to controlling fake news, deterring hate speech and protecting privacy, and the same percentage wanted governments to regulate social media better.

But the uncanny twist in this story is that consumers want brands themselves to pressure social media platforms to effect change as well. Edelman’s CEO was quoted as saying: “The new thing is that people want brands to intervene.” 

  • 71% of consumers want brands to pressure social media platforms to more effectively safeguard personal data
  • 70% want brands to pressure social media platforms to curb the spread of fake news more effectively

In fact, users seem to hold brands responsible:

  • 47% believe that content that appears near a brand’s marketing – think hate speech, violent or sexually inappropriate content – is an indication of that brand’s values
  • 48% think brands are to blame for the misplacement of their ads

This is particularly worrying for many businesses, as social platforms have come to be critical mediums for companies to research, advertise, sell, and communicate with their customers.

It is quite intriguing to see that the ramifications of privacy scandals, such as the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, and the proliferation of fake news, are having this kind of impact on brands. It seems that consumers, in general, have become wary of data-based marketing techniques as a consequence. The study shows that:

  • 54% of responders are uncomfortable with marketers tracking in-store purchases for targeting purposes
  • 39% think it is illegal for a brand to buy personal information from another company the consumer does business with
  • 49% are not willing to sacrifice some of their data privacy in return for a more personalized shopping experience

Edelman had surveyed 9,000 people in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, the United Arab Emirates, the U.K. and U.S. for the study.