The best 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 several in social media marketing and advertising has known for a lengthy, extended time: that social media platforms are a joke, their valuations are based on imaginary consumers, and their integrity lies someplace between Lucifer and that dude who eats people’s faces in the movies.
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For advertising and marketing consultants these kinds of as myself, recommending existing social platforms these kinds of as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has been increasingly difficult, simply because -fairly frankly- a lot of of us never believe in the metrics.

And why ought to we? Facebook will not.

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

The figures for our crucial metrics, which incorporate our everyday energetic consumers (DAUs), regular monthly energetic consumers (MAUs), and regular income for every user (ARPU), are calculated utilizing inner business information dependent on the exercise of user accounts. Although these figures are based on what we think to be reasonable estimates of our person foundation for the relevant interval of measurement, there are inherent difficulties in measuring use of our goods throughout big on the web and cell populations about the entire world.
The greatest knowledge administration firm in the globe states it will not really know if its numbers are precise. Estimates? What marketing and advertising professional needs believed results right after the truth?

It gets worse. Emphasis mine:

In the fourth quarter of 2017, we estimate that duplicate accounts might have represented approximately ten% of our around the world MAUs. We feel the share of replicate accounts is meaningfully larger in developing marketplaces this kind of as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as in comparison to much more created markets. In the fourth quarter of 2017, we estimate that fake accounts may possibly have represented roughly three-four% of our around the world MAUs.
Allow that sink in. Fb is admitting that “roughly” 10% of its monthly active consumers are phony. Curiously, they never mention what percentage of their everyday energetic consumers are bogus.

And which is the problem with social media. You will not know what is actually actual and what is actually fake anymore.

Social media has not been genuine for a although.

As marketers and advertisers, we pride ourselves on precision. In the olden times of marketing and advertising and advertising and marketing, we obsessed above rating numbers of tv set shows, readership for print promotions, and shipping good results costs for immediate mail.

In all situations, the platforms of the working day ended up intensely audited. You realized, with fair certainty, was the audiences had been for any distinct medium or channel because there was generally a position of evaluation someplace for the figures.

Conventional media these kinds of as radio, Television, and print experienced been around lengthy ample that there were hundreds of case research a single could review the achievement or failures of individual strategies. Because these mediums have been component of the community document, it was simple to function backward to see what combine of media and spending budget worked and what failed to.

As an business, we could speedily set up benchmarks for achievement – not just primarily based on our personal activities- but in the collective encounters of quite clear techniques laid bare for absolutely everyone to dissect.

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

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram’s quantities have been constantly a joke.

In times of yore, firm valuation was based mostly on revenues, belongings, and human money, and performance.

That all altered when somebody came up with the notion of “daily active customers.”

The race to acquire end users grew to become the driving power for social media platforms in a way that we have by no means witnessed ahead of. Now, the obsession with consumer expansion opened the doorway to advertising and marketing and marketing and advertising fraud on a scale that just wasn’t attainable formerly.

Let’s get some thing clear: any platform that permits for people to develop thousands of phony profiles so others can acquire likes, followers, retweets, or shares is poisonous to advertisers and manufacturers alike.

Now, I understand that the phrase “allows” is performing a good deal of perform in that sentence, so permit me broaden a bit what I indicate.

I do not consider I’ll get a lot of arguments when I say that -no matter of what I consider of them- the most successful social media platforms on the planet are also some of the most sophisticated technological enterprises on the planet. They have -arguably- some of the ideal AI about, as their complete business types revolve close to becoming ready to crunch quantities, facts, and obscure items of knowledge tens of millions of occasions a second. are also substantial corporations, with an army of attorneys and IP bulldogs waiting around to shield their model from any hostile outdoors forces.

So describe to me, how is it, that even soon after all we have noticed in the news people can nevertheless purchase Facebook likes, or Twitter followers, or Instagram followers?

The cause: it was always a fraud. And we acquired conned alongside with every person else.

If your business is valued on your number of end users and the activity of these consumers on your platform, what do you care if they are bogus or not? If you did, you would employ an armada of auditors to ensure the integrity of your userbase. I will not feel they ever did and will by no means do this.