The Next Tobacco

An interesting few weeks in the world of social-not-media platforms. I’ve done a few talks recently where I touch on the idea of social being “the next tobacco”. This idea seems to get a lot of traction, so I thought it worth expanding on.

But first, a recap…

The line that these platforms are bad for individuals has been well worn over the past few years. It’s a luddite’s game, and the reasonable response has always been that it’s the individuals choice.

What is now happening is that the missteps, overreaches, and systemic failure by these platforms have very clear and very real externalities.

It wasn’t the harm to the individual that caused a shift in attitudes to tobacco. It was when the externalities became clear - second-hand smoke and public health costs - that attitudes and regulation changed.

“Social is the next tobacco” is an extreme line. But it’s also one that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube appear to be approaching at high speed. If there’s not a shift in attitude and action, they may become no-go zones for brands. Marketers may soon need to ask themselves if they would advertise on a pack of cigarettes.

- March 2018