In my previous article, I mentioned that marketing is a dynamic field and has great breathing space for “the out of box” thinking. Marketers keep on adding and deleting ideas from various platforms. In this digital era, where the SWOT of digital platforms is not very known to marketers, they keep adding new ways to promote their ideas, products, or brands. Sometimes, instead of success, they taste trouble and then realize the possible threats of these digital media platforms that come along with opportunities. These days, ‘online bullying’ by viewers is very common. Any brand can be trolled among the masses. This ‘online bullying’ or ‘online trolling’ on various social platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter is something not expected by marketers. These sudden and unstoppable reactions by users/viewers do not even offer breathing space to product managers, brand managers, or ad agencies. Now big businesses and celebrities often complain that their privacy is at stake due to high exposure of the internet.
It is important for social platforms to take such incidents on a serious note and analysis what they can do to avoid such things without hampering anyone’s right to privacy and freedom of expression in one go.
Recently, YouTube announced that it will hide its ‘dislikes counts’ from YouTube viewers. This announcement gained mixed reactions from the industry and users. ‘Dislikes counts’ have their own importance for both the parties, sender as well as the receiver. From the company’s perspective, these counts are very important as it helps to estimate the success of their ads, campaign, or any other communication. With the help of YouTube Studio, they can easily extract the huge database of how many people like or dislike their communication. Accordingly, they can design future marketing strategies. For example, Cadbury 5 Start ran the same campaign #Ramesh-Suresh for eight years as they know that people like it. However, one of their ads – #Cadbury5Star-DoNothing where one young boy didn’t help an old lady was trolled by viewers. It gives a buzz for marketers about the future course of action. Similarly, Sabhyasachi’s latest “Mangalsutra Campaign” was trolled badly by viewers along with high dislikes counts. In another instance, Alia Bhat while endorsing a ‘Manyawar’ questioned the Hindu Marriage ritual by saying #KanyaDaanNahiKanyaMaan, was trolled badly by viewers. There are many such incidents in the advertisement world.
Therefore, marketers should understand that, unlike traditional media including TV commercials, Print ads or Outdoor banners, digital media is a two-way communication and an opportunity and threat at the same time. On one hand, marketers are privileged enough to have instant positive feedback from users and the campaign will be a hit in one night. On the other hand, they can have a sleepless and tense night due to online trolling.
According to some experts, hiding dislikes counts can be of no effect for users but of great help for marketers as they will have breathing space to work on how to tackle high dislike counts. Whereas some experts say that this will limit the judicial power of a user to select what to watch and what not to watch. Generally, some viewers select any YouTube content to watch based on three things – Likes and Dislikes counts, and Comments added. Comments can be polarized by brands. Hence, they trust on likes and dislikes counts and compare which one is greater in number. If one will hide the dislike counts, it will limit the viewer’s judgment. When we say the consumer is king, businesses or specific social platforms should not go for such practices that limit the judgement power of their own viewers.
Some experts say that instead of hiding dislikes counts, social platforms should work on comment filtration as most of the trolling comes from the comment section below the YouTube video. This has to be done with extra consciousness as it will raise the question mark on ‘freedom of speech’.
An additional group of experts also say that this move will have an adverse effect only on content communication and not on commercial communication such as movie trailers, etc., leading to biased benefits for one category only.
Now, these are expert takes on this recent announcement done by YouTube.
Let’s wait and watch to see what the viewers’ reaction to this once it gets implemented.
Dr. Anuradha Yadav