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Skepticism and Social Media Marketing

May 4, 2019

The recent findings of a global study raise interesting questions for social media marketing professionals and their international clients. The Guardian newspaper and the data company YouGov have surveyed 23 different countries and analyzed their comparative perceptions of social media platforms.

The Guardian found that residents of the United Kingdom were the least trusting of social media overall, and tended to support greater restrictions on major platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Other developed nations were only slightly more trusting, while middle-income countries like India and Mexico exhibited more trust in social media compared to traditional newspapers and other information outlets.

It’s not clear exactly what “trust” means, but there is certainly potential for these findings to influence social media marketing. It may still be necessary to break down the data into more detail. But it seems very possible that if people in certain countries are less likely to trust news on social media, they might also be less likely to trust social media marketing content.

This speaks to geographic differences that any good web marketing firm ought to be sensitive to. This blog has previously emphasized the need for social media marketing professionals to fully analyze their clients’ target audiences and the source of their pre-existing interactions. This new information only underlines that point, while pointing to another specific reason why it might be important.

Audience skepticism is a very relevant factor in designing a social media marketing strategy. While an effective and reputable marketing agency should never aim at deceiving the public, it should recognize when it might have a harder or easier time convincing people of its message. This could meaningfully influence things like the tone of geographically specific social media marketing campaigns.

In some markets, followers may be happy to accept your message at face value, but in others, you might need to work toward building trust and portraying yourself as more of a friend than a salesman. Meanwhile, the inherent skepticism in some markets might also reveal a particular kind of receptiveness to certain products and certain messages, including those that emphasize online security or access to reliable information.

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