The past year was an eventful one in the world of social media. I put together my thoughts on this year’s key phenomena and changes:
1. More attention should be paid to transparency in order to ensure that advertising is clearly labelled as such
Last year, the Council of Ethics in Advertising (MEN) issued as many as 8 notices on the recognisability of advertising on Instagram, blogs and YouTube. This amount is significant because 50% of all notices issued concerned influencer marketing (16 MEN notices in total in 2018). Although the recognisability of advertising has been discussed for years, influencers and advertisers still need pay more attention to the transparency of the advertising content and to clearly indicate the commercial purpose of the communication. Too often, labels are unclear or missing all together, and differences between social media channels are not considered in the labelling. For example, content may be correctly labelled as advertising on an Instagram feed but not on the Stories side. Since influencers have the ability to shape people’s views and shopping preferences, especially younger generations, it is important that when people decide to purchase products or services they are not misled by advertisements on social media that appear to be genuine reviews where they are in fact paid opinions or reviews. I hope that the transparency in paid partnerships becomes the new normal in 2019.
2. YouTube’s own ‘stories’ Reels will be launched
YouTube recently announced that it will launch its own Stories service, Reels. The beta version of the service will be made available first to users with more than 10k followers. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of content Reels will bring with it. Hopefully content creators in Finland will also get to test the beta version this year.
3. Is social media becoming more private?
Last year, Instagram launched a feature that allows users to limit Stories releases to specific user-selected followers that the user has added to their ‘close friends’ list. Is social media becoming more private when users no longer want to share their whole life on social media?
4. The upcoming parliamentary elections and social media – will the political parties use influencers in their campaigns during this spring?
The previous election already showed us that social media can have a genuine impact on the electoral race. Who then monitors political advertising? In practice, the answer is no one, if the media is not counted.