Brands need to address increased regulation of the internet

Mark Johnson's picture

The relationship between brands and regulation of the internet have been put under the spotlight in a new report from London-based agency We Are Social.

The internet has historically been the wild west of content and communication, exempt from many of the rules and restrictions of the physical world, the agency noted. 

Facing consequences

But as internet users, creators, platforms and authorities alike wake up to the consequences this culture of lawlessness has created, brands must learn to operate within a range of new constraints, the global socially-led creative agency said.

The company has launched the latest edition of its annual report, Think Forward, which aims to shed light on how brands can best navigate these new rules of the internet. 

The report will help brands operate in a world that is now policed by both platforms and communities, and how understanding these new rules can inspire brands to break out of the status quo.

The trends covered in Think Forward 2020 are: 

  • Added value: The internet has long been exempt from rules around intellectual property rights. But in a maturing digital landscape, creators – and their content – are getting recognition.
  • Social self-care: Social was once a space for projecting and seeking validation. But in the wake of increased mental health awareness, people are taking a more measured approach to digital consumption. 
  • Bad influence: Influencers used to be beacons of authenticity, but being a content creator born on social media has lost its lo-fi sheen. As a result, there’s a growing backlash against influencer culture and the metrics that drive it. 
  • Overt privacy: People are sick of feeling surveilled. They’re taking control of their digital footprints – to hide from brands, platforms, and increasingly, even their outer circles – in new social spaces.
  • Running commentary: Social content is no longer all about brevity. In a maturing digital landscape, content and narratives across all platforms are growing longer and more complex.
  • Cultural CrossFit: People have often been forced to engage with cultural interests in isolation. But driven by openness to collaboration among brands and platforms, people are consuming culture in more fluid ways.

Mobbie Nazir, chief strategy officer at We Are Social, commented: “In 2019, we’ve seen our understanding of the internet, and its impact on our minds and our society, advance. 

“As a result, we’ve seen authorities, platforms and internet users across the globe start to push back, actively regulating their own use and policing what they deem to be unacceptable behaviour – both from brands and other users online.

“However, while this shift means that brands will quickly have to adapt to how they behave online, it also provides a wealth of new opportunities to innovate how they’ve connected with audiences online and use creativity to drive their brand message.”

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