Social media can have a very bad reputation, with misinformation and hate speech at unprecedented levels.
However, social media can also be used for good. In order to combat misinformation, influencers, businesses and organizations need to harness the positive capabilities of these platforms.
Trust in social media platforms has been badly affected by the misinformation spreading around elections and Covid-19 vaccinations, and the lines between fact and opinion are becoming increasingly blurred.
We live in a world where tweets from former presidents and wealthy advertisers can influence stock markets and investment decisions. The documentary, The social dilemma has opened many eyes to how these platforms exploit our psychological weaknesses.
Inna Piven, professor of digital marketing at the University of Auckland Business School, explains that one of the problems with finding information online is that it is very difficult to find the origin of information. a fact and you see many different interpretations of the same information.
As a result, the responsibility for determining what is real and what is not shifts from the person or platform providing the information to the person consuming it.
As Inna says, “It’s up to us to decide: should we trust the source?”
As we become more aware of how these platforms can be used, we are more attuned to credible and trustworthy influencers and brands.
influencing for good
Misinformation can influence online communities, manipulating them for political or economic reasons. But this can be offset powerfully by countering fiction with fact, raising awareness and presenting authoritative voices.
Writer, storyteller and brand influencer, Jess Molina strives for authenticity when sharing and is aware of the responsibility of being a brand ambassador and influencer.
“I have this ethical responsibility to be really picky about what I share,” she says.
What helped Jess navigate the world of social media influence authentically was her marketing background and ten years of experience in the corporate world before becoming a full-time influencer. This foundation has allowed her to truly understand the importance of maintaining authenticity as she navigates the relationship between her brand, her audience, and the brands she works with.
Jess believes being informed is essential, and consuming information from multiple sources is a way to ensure her opinions are informed by different perspectives.
Make a real change
Rachitha Rajendra is a product manager at health technology leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, with a background in computer engineering and a masters in marketing from the University of Auckland.
In her job, she is responsible for communicating to customers the products and services they need. It’s about stopping being too commercial and giving people the credible information they need to make informed decisions about their health.
“Much of the information available is unreliable, so it is a responsibility as well as an opportunity for healthcare organizations to provide evidence-based, reliable and quality-controlled research and education so that people can consume the right content.”
Her studies at business school taught Rachitha to put the customer at the heart of everything she does and enabled her to shift her career from sales and business development to digital marketing.
Subsequently, Rachitha was able to use social media in her daily work to bring about real and positive change. She uses it as a tool to improve engagement, break down barriers to accessing services, meet social needs and amplify access to help. Social media adds value to the user in this case, as a holistic education tool that fosters supportive communities where trusted source information can be shared.
Cut through clutter
In a competitive world where companies are all trying to get social media users’ attention to their products and services, the brands that stand out are the ones that connect authentically with people.
So how should businesses and organizations use social media? Inna Piven acknowledges that social media has changed the marketing game.
“Before social media, marketing communication was generally stable and predictable. Since social media, we’ve been dealing with a completely different nature from consumer brand communications.”
She encourages businesses to “stop thinking of social media as a sales platform” and instead consider usefulness and authenticity. Helpfulness is about providing valuable resources and information to customers, while authenticity is about humanizing and personalizing. Inna says authenticity is the number one thing consumers on social media look for from brands.
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