The Promise vs. Peril of Social Media

This past month we kicked off a webinar series, all of us at ViralGains are passionate about, titled “How to Be a Force for Good.” With everything that happened in 2020, our entire team came together to have the tough discussions about ways we can be a better force for good, whether that be personally or professionally. 

As a result of these discussions, we arrived at the idea to launch a “Be a Force for Good” webinar series with the intention of providing advertisers and marketers access to virtual Q&A sessions with leaders from various industries to teach us all how we can do better in the industry.

This month, we had the honor of having Sinan Aral join us to kick off this series with an incredibly engaging conversation about the promise and peril of social media. Sinan is the David Austin Professor of Management, IT, Marketing and Data Science at MIT, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and a founding partner at Manifest Capital. He also released his book, The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt, this past Fall that details his 20+ years of research on the topic. 

Our Chairman & CEO, Tod Loofbourrow, interviewed him about topics including the real life examples Sinan researched and evaluated, the speed at which fake news travels compared to the truth, how advertisers can participate in keeping social media a force for good, and much more.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the discussion: 

Tod Loofbourrow: Let’s talk a little bit about the medium within social media. So you say in your book that people remember about 10% of what they read but about 95% of what they see on video. Video is such a compelling medium for storytelling, but it’s also a compelling medium for misinformation. So how do you think video is going to evolve on social media? 

Sinan Aral: Well first of all, I think that video is the next era of content and sort of content creation, both in advertising and in general. I think that it’s clear that video is beginning to replace textual content both in terms of ads and in terms of organic content. 

I think it’s more effective than textual content and I think that it’s just more engaging, it’s more, you know, efficacious, it’s more interesting and for all those reasons I think it’s going to continue to displace textual content. I think that it opens up a whole new world for publishers, for content providers, for advertisers, and so on. And I think that brands have to be really aware of the role of video going forward.

It also changes the nature of content creation and content optimization. I think that understanding how video relates to engagement, persuasion, and other types of KPIs is really important. I think that brands and advertisers that are going to be successful in the future have to really get a handle on how video works – how we can measure how effective video is and how we can change our content creation process to prioritize video and become systematic in how we approach the creation and deployment of video as content. 

Tod Loofbourrow: Yeah, it’s really interesting. When advertisers first started deploying online video, they thought of it as television on the internet and they would simply repurpose the television ads. You’re now seeing much more interactivity, two-way conversation, and variations based on who the person is and what they’re interested in. I agree, I think it’s very much at the beginning. 

To hear more of the Q&A between Tod and Sinan, and learn how you as an advertiser can be a force for good, you can view the whole recording in the video below.

Let us know your thoughts! What topics did you like in the discussion? Do you have a topic you’d like to hear more about in the next webinar?

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