Published On: Sun, May 23rd, 2010

Social Networks Become Social Entertainment

I was fortunate enough to attend the Edelman Social Entertainment breakfast last week where the findings of Edelman’s fourth annual Trust in the Entertainment Industry survey were presented. Gail Becker, President of the firms Western region, announced the results before Labour MP, Tom Watson, Acting Head of Crossplatform at Channel 4, Matt Locke and Online Community Product Manager at BSkyB, Maz Nadjm gave their views on the issues raised.

The main takeaways from the presentation were:
  • It is the ability to access content across devices, not cost, that is of significance to consumers.
  • Spending on entertainment continues to stay strong.
  • Those that state that they trust entertainment companies are also more willing to pay for content.
From a personal perspective the following points were also of great interest:
  • 73% of 18-24 year olds in the US and 61% in the UK see social networks as a form of entertainment.
  • 89% of those in the UK say they would not be willing to give up personal information to access free entertainment.
  • 32% of UK consumers and 28% of US consumers trust entertainment companies.

As a PR Consultant who undertakes social media activity on behalf of large brands, it is interesting, although unsurprising to hear that people view social networks as a source of entertainment. So the question we need to ask ourselves is ‘how we can create content that offers real value to the client, but also entertains the consumer?’ It’s a perennial question and we have seen some great answers over the last couple of years with brands providing content that is entertaining or useful. Recent examples include the new Nike advert, Local Motors and Golf GTI.

The second point about not giving up personal information I am slightly sceptical about. Although, a large number of people may not like the idea of giving up personal information, in reality a lot of us do so already. It is clear people value their privacy, but perhaps they do not realise what they are already giving away and the digital footprint they leave behind? Whilst, I disagree with Mark Zuckerberg that privacy is no longer a ‘social norm’ I’m of the opinion that if we want to use social networks for free, there needs to be a reconciliation between the wants of the two sides. I feel volunteering some information, which will result in losing some privacy is a worthy trade.

Thirdly, trust in entertainment companies is low. This is hugely significant for them as the research shows that people who trust entertainment companies are more willing to pay for content. This once again raises the issue of trust and more importantly how do you create it? For me it remains the old recipe of communicating regularly and behaving in an open, honest and transparent way. However, organisations need to consider how they use this data – and they must be up front and honest with the consumer about how they will use it.

Overall, it was a great morning and insightful to hear Matt and Maz speak about what social entertainment will mean for their respective channels. It does truly sound exciting. However, for me, it was fascinating to hear Tom’s perspective and gain his thoughts on what the future concept of online privacy may look like. On a personal note, it was nice to hear him speak as he is an outspoken critic of the hastily passed Digital Economy Bill and also a great example of how a public servant can use social media to engage with the people who put him there.

For me, the main talking point from the survey is how companies handle this rich data, which I inevitably believe we will have to give up in order to use services for free. Whilst, I appreciate the potentially huge value this data has for companies,  I’m hopeful it will also ensure end users have a better, more personalised experience.


You can read more about the Trust in the Entertainment Industry survey on the Edelman Digital blog.


About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ben Cotton, Katelyn Mashburn. Katelyn Mashburn said: Great post via @BenCotton discussing the evolution of social networks to social entertainment […]

  2. […] Social Networks become Social Entertainment « Ben Cotton's take on …12 hours ago by Ben Cotton  As a PR Consultant who undertakes social media activity on behalf of large brands, it is interesting, although unsurprising to hear that people view social networks as a source of entertainment. So the question we need to ask ourselves … […]

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