Social Media influencers have taken an important role not only in brand advertising campaigns, but also in the political arena.
Immediately after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, his digital media director, Brad Parscale bragged in a Wired interview of how their social media campaign via Twitter and Facebook paved the way for a Trump victory. Donald Trump of course, has again tapped Parscale’s services for his reelection bid.
Yet it seems the task at hand will not be as easy for Parscale. Mainly because a lot has been revealed on how the Facebook platform was manipulated in order to sway the decisions of the 2016 voters.
How the Trump Campaign Team used Facebook for Their 2016 Political Campaign
Many were stunned by Trump’s 2016 victory. This prompted several tech people to publish explanations and revelations on how social media technologies can influence personal decisions.
Google’s design ethicist Tristan Harris said that Internet platforms use persuasive technologies in making people develop a liking for a product, which he termed as “brain hacking.” However, it is important that the information matches the personality and views of the person receiving the persuasive messages.
Apparently, Donald Trump’s Facebook campaign team took advantage of this “brain hacking” technique with the help of Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based data mining and data brokerage firm.
In 2018, Christopher Wylie a Canadian data consultant who worked at Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential campaign, presented documents that shed light on how Facebook became an influential tool for Donald Trump’s campaign.
In what came to be known as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, Wylie revealed documents to “The Guardian;” showing how his company was involved in an unauthorized data-scraping exercise involving the accounts of 87 million American Facebook users. According to Wylie, the FB data were provided solely for the purpose of launching political advertising campaigns.
The data mined were based on personality and psychological profiles, which Wylie had provided for his Cambridge Analytica boss Steve Bannon. At that time, Bannon also worked as a political strategist for Donald Trump.
In combining the so-called “brain hacking” technology and the Facebook user data provided by Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign team was able to launch political ads designed to tap on the specific psychological makeup of targeted Facebook users.
In addition during the course of their FB campaigns, Trump also posted messages of how the election is being rigged; claiming that the news media had been pushing false news and outright lies about him as a means for getting “Crooked Hillary!” elected. Trump’s posts were naturally liked, shared and commented on by the campaign team’s target FB users.
Soon after, other social media influencers saw Trump’s Facebook tool as a way of earning extra money by posting “click-bait” pro-Trump memes and fake news; including one sharing a news that the Pope had endorsed Trump.
As the “nonsense” continued to spread virally, Roger McNamee, mentor to FB-CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and one of the early investors on Facebook, began urging people to turn away from the big tech business model. Apparently, he had observed the problems of the Facebook platform and how the spread of fake news was helping Donald Trump win the 2016 election.
A few days before election day, McNamee sent Zuckerberg an email in which he conveyed his sadness at how Facebook evolved differently from the company he joined with pride more than a decade ago. According to Mr. McNamee, he now felt disappointed, embarrassed and ashamed for having been part of Facebook’s development.
Non-Political Social Media Influencers Use Trust and Truth as Business Models
The credibility of successful social media influencers remains intact, simply because they stick to the truth to earn the trust of followers.
As a newbie, some may have availed the services of social media marketers like SMM World (https://www.smm-world.com/); but only to improve their initial appearance in the Internet Marketing space. What they publish as usable and trustworthy content is still the key to their success as credible social media bloggers.