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3 major ways advertisers can act responsibly in 2019’s social media sphere

3 major ways advertisers can act responsibly in 2019’s social media sphere

Trigger warning: Some references may cause distress

2019 will see advertisers thriving even more in the social media arena, with campaigns becoming agile, quick witted and far-reaching. However, with success and power comes responsibility. In this case the more access advertisers have to customers the more they need to encourage a healthier lifestyle, physically and mentally.

At the end of the day, the customer is king – how can we represent something that harms the customer?

Unrealistic expectations and fake lifestyles have taken over Instagram, fuelling depression amongst youngsters who would stop at nothing to show the world they’re ‘living their best life.’

In extreme cases, if we look at the example of the recent suicide of young school girl Molly Russel, we can gain an insight to how heavily social media content can impact youngsters.

UK Law around suicide states that “aiding, abetting and encouraging somebody to end their life by suicide is illegal” – a dangerous area for brands who’s adverts run alongside distressing posts.

According to a BBC investigation, adverts for some UK high street brands appeared next to graphic content about self-harm, depression and suicide on the social media app Facebook.

These brands stated they were unaware of their adverts being placed alongside distressing posts, which begs the question – how can we as advertisers, fulfil our social responsibility to protect our customers? If assurances from social media channels are not enough and still places many brands land in trouble regardless, how do we play our part to encourage healthier social media engagement?

A study from the Royal Society for Public Health shows that four of the five most used social media platforms actually make feelings of anxiety worse for 16-24 year olds. The study adds that “Using social media for more than two hours per day has also been independently associated with poor self-rating of mental health, increased levels of psychological distress and suicidal ideation.”

As advertisers, we want to ensure our brands are seen everywhere, reaching everyone and impacting the most – but is this helping our generation?  Especially when web giants fail to take proper measures to prevent adverts standing beside distressing posts.

Advertisers can do their bit by acting against the negativity that can be found online and creating positive fulfilling content with ethical brands.

Here’s how advertisers can act responsibly online to ensure the internet becomes a healthier place.

Fuelling authenticity:

A major problem that the Royal Society of Public Health study has expressed is the idea of “FOMO” – the fear of missing out. FOMO is one of those amongst the feelings of negative impact caused by social media.

In fact, the BBC investigation touches this topic vaguely – with distressing hashtags easily searchable, people gain a sense of belonging on social media where they can search like-minded people just through a simple hashtag, and could encourage youngsters to do negative things, or follow a certain lifestyle if they feel others are doing the same. A way to tackle these situations is if advertisers focus on showing healthier lifestyles and reality in not only their adverts, but when working with influencers, rather than selling a fake lifestyle. This is vital when in acting responsibly.

Adapting to the digital detox:

Another way we can encourage a healthier space on social media is to encourage the digital detox and move forward with it in 2019.

As addictive as social media is, people are moving towards a social media detox. Whether it be for an hour a day or for weeks – people are starting to realise their addiction and its impact, and are finally attempting to switch off.

Although it may sound like advertisers could lose out and not have the social media impact they want – we can make it quite the opposite.

We advise that if we grow with the detox, it may ensure better quality advertising rather than unhealthy amounts of content.

This way, advertisers can filter themselves and focus on quality audience engagement, rather than quantity.

Tackling fast food advertising:

As fast-food advertising is becoming non-existent in the outdoor space, with bans stopping them from campaigning in stations, tubes and buses – as well as on the digital platform; advertisers are more likely to use influencers to market products.

Last year, ITV’s Love Island contestants Dani Dyer and Jack Fowler were attacked online for their choice of advertising McDonald’s. The duo posted a series of images and videos on Instagram with the hashtag #Ad and were ridiculed by fans for promoting junk food.

What can we do? Advertisers can act responsibly and tackle child obesity by ensuring such online campaigns are filtered and targeted to over-16 children, and by developing the influencer’s conscience towards promoting a healthier lifestyle.

2019 can be the year we act responsibly and intelligently with social media. Understanding its negative implications and utilising audience targeting tools to lead the next generation is vital as a 21st century media company.

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