As you may have heard, things are a bit odd here in the UK.
In what has been colourfully described by a leading commentator as a right old Trussterfuck, we’ve just gone and lost yet another Prime Minister, not three months after we mislaid the last one. You could be forgiven for assuming that ‘Number 10’ now refers not to the esteemed address from which our country is governed, but a speedy bus route to the nearest speaking engagement.
That was certainly the case for the glorious leader before last, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson Hon FRIBA, who last week cheerfully binned off his duties as a Member of Parliament in favour of delivering a short after-dinner speech for a four figure payday, swiftly followed by a holiday in the Caribbean.
Still, not to worry – as I type this, Boris is winging his way home to squeeze his way back into Downing Street. Hopefully he’ll recapture power just in time to be found guilty of misleading parliament (the investigation is ongoing) at which point he’ll have to resign again.
What a mess.
Those who know me well will know that I’ve never been a Tory voter, nor am I ever likely to swing in that direction. I actually sit quite comfortably in the centre-ground of UK politics. I prefer pragmatism over idealism, regardless of which end of the political spectrum the idealism happens to spew from. My issue with the Conservatives is not the One Nation centrism that someone like John Major embodied, it’s the froth-mouthed, red-eyed madness of the European Research Group that I can’t stand. And of course that’s where all of this nonsense began – Brexit.
So what does all this have to do with the blog of a marketing company? Well, aside from giving the rest of the world a bit of a chuckle at the incredible self-harm the UK continues to bring upon itself, I believe this appalling situation should be giving brand managers sleepless nights. Almost everything that has happened to the UK (and the US, for that matter) can be attributed to the divisive effects of social media.
Don’t misunderstand – I’m not referring to shadowy companies pouring millions into attack ads on Facebook and Instagram. That was just the fuel that started the fire. Now, it’s all about the algorithms working in the background, serving out ‘interesting’ content to users with no regard whatsoever for facts, balance or the bounds of reality. Why do so many people think Boris is our nation’s saviour? Despite him having lied to the Queen, unlawfully suspended Parliament, partied in Downing Street while the country was locked up with covid and spread so much disinformation about Brexit that the poorest in our society actually voted to make themselves poorer?
Why? Because Facebook said so. Again and again and again.
And if you’ve interacted with populist pro-Boris content before, then Facebook is going to continue serving more of it to you. As is Instagram, as is TikTok, as is Twitter. The same goes for the politics of the extreme left, the extreme right and anything else radical with the potential to bugger up society for those of us who just want to make a living and raise our families. And if those algorithms have that much power over nations, what on earth are they doing to your brand?
Be sure of this – if you don’t take control of how your brand is perceived on social media, you might end up with a nasty Trussterfuck of your own.