Social media has become ingrained in how we communicate, work, and play.
No surprise, penetration is highest among 18- to 29-year-olds (88%), though it’s no less impressive for consumers ages 30 to 49 (78%) and ages 50 to 64 (64%), according to Pew Research.
Much of the credit rightfully belongs to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. At Adobe Summit on Wednesday morning, Kay Madati, VP and head of content and partnerships at Twitter; Melissa Selcher, VP of brand and communications at LinkedIn; and Gene Alston, VP of marketing partnerships at Facebook, participated in a wide-ranging discussion, led by Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes.
Topics included their roles in protecting customers’ privacy, brand safety, measuring social ROI, and the most effective content formats.
According to Twitter’s Madati, each of the three top platforms have their own core purpose and differentiator. For Twitter, the core purpose is about serving the public conversation. “When something happens in the world, people talk on Twitter,” he said.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is all about building an economic opportunity for every member of the workforce. “Our professional context is our differentiator,” Selcher said.
Facebook, meanwhile, is all about creating community. “Billions of people want to connect and keep in touch with friends and family, and we take that really seriously,” Alston said.
Adobe’s Lewnes cut right to the chase during the panel discussion, bringing up the very timely topic of privacy and the role that social media platforms play in protecting its users.
“Our role is to make sure we are protecting the privacy of users on Facebook,” Alston told the audience of 13,000 attendees. “From Mark [Zuckerberg] and the entire leadership team, we take the commitment seriously, and if we can’t protect your information, we don’t deserve it.”
According to Alston, Facebook is currently taking measures to address the review process of apps in its ecosystem, making audits a regular occurrence, and finding ways of becoming more transparent to let people know if their information was compromised. “I’ve never seen the leadership team more focused and committed to getting better,” he said.
At Twitter, where all information is technically public, shareable, and searchable, some checks and balances are in place to protect the privacy rights of users. But, according to Madati, because the data that is shared via partner relationships on Twitter is public information, “the issue around privacy is diminished,” he said.
For its part, privacy is coded into the fabric of LinkedIn, where everyone is on the hook, Selcher said. “It has to be the job of everyone at the company to care about our members and their privacy,” she explained. “All employees must check what they are doing, how they are acting, and make sure it is ‘member first.’”
That concept, as well as what Selcher calls “the three Cs” —clarity, choice, and control—guide product and service rollouts. From a data perspective, “We want to make sure we have the highest standards for how member data is used,” she said, pointing to LinkedIn’s mandatory training for all employees about the implications of GDPR as an example.
Metrics That Matter
Lewnes’ next question for the panelists was about how the networks are helping brands better understand the ROI and impact their social programs have on their business’ bottom line. “Marketers care about results,” Lewnes told the audience.
At LinkedIn, the team is focusing on helping customers make decisions based on downstream metrics, even going as far as integrating with a company’s CRM system to provide ROI metrics, Selcher said. It’s a work in progress, with the goal of helping customers understand the value and impact of the content they are creating.
On Twitter, successful companies are marrying their brands to the organic conversations happening on the platform, Madati said. Twitter is looking at metrics such as number of tweets, engagements, and impressions as a means of measuring brand lift and awareness.
“[Companies] are seeing positive results,” Madati said. “Streaming NFL games or a Vanity Fair after-party at the Oscars see great results. ... We are, of course, challenged to go farther. [The platforms] all approach it in different ways, but people are looking for standard measurement, and there is a ways to go before we get there.”
Facebook is betting on viewability in terms of tying marketing to business outcomes. The company also has a measurement council, comprising a group of brands and agencies that are working together with it to figure out measurement standards for the platform.
According to LinkedIn’s Selcher, CMOs are increasingly seeing themselves as more than just a marketer, but also an editor in chief. “The best marketing teams realize that it’s not just marketers that need to be creating content,” she said. Rather, it should come from all employees, and even partners and customers, as well.
In terms of content format, the Twitter and LinkedIn executives both said video performs best on their platforms.
“For us, it’s about storytelling and empowering storytelling across our platform,” Twitter’s Madati said. “At the center is video, and our video product and strategy is evolving.”
Stories are big performer on Facebook. Alston said he believes they will become a huge trend across the industry, especially on mobile. “[In the future] we may be in a world where that is the primary format for social media,” he said.
Adobe’s Lewnes next moved on to another hot topic: brand safety and ad fraud.
“We have a zero tolerance for violent content and hate speech,” Facebook’s Alston said. “Keeping the integrity of the community is very important.” Facebook is also proactively investing into machine learning to identify inappropriate content, he added.
Another brand safety issue on Facebook’s agenda: giving advertisers more control. Right now the platform allows advertisers the option to know where their ads run. However, more granular controls are currently in the works to give advertisers greater transparency.
Twitter is also very focused on brand safety, Madati said. “I have no content business if we can’t provide brand safety for our partners and advertisers," he told the audience.
The panelists also spoke of the use of their platforms for social good.
“It’s what makes the privilege of working at Twitter worth waking up every morning,” Madati said. “It’s core to how our platform operates.”
As an example, he pointed to Emma González, a Parkland school shooting survivor, gun-control activist, and one of the organizers of March For Our Lives, started the Twitter handle @Emma4Change after the shooting in February. She grew her followers from zero to 1.4 million in just a few days.
“It’s the perfect example for how Twitter can provide a voice from one to many,” Madati said.
Facebook, whose stated mission is to bring people together, uses its power in numbers to help drive social good. After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last summer, Facebook raised $10 million in relief efforts. Beyond that, Alston said, the company is working on using artificial intelligence to identify people at risk—perhaps they are expressing suicidal thoughts—and reaching out to offer help.
Finally, LinkedIn is working toward using its platform for the good of the professional community. Currently, 10 million members are signed up to be mentors to people who don’t have the same opportunities as they did. The company sent an InMail to all its executive members with the subject line “pay it forward.” According to Selcher, 70% of those who received the message signed up to be a mentor.
“Identifying and committing to your core asset is the approach we have taken,” she said.
Adobe’s Lewnes ended the panel discussion with the company’s own view of social impact, sharing the following video.