Friday Forum – We bring the hottest questions from the Chinese Social & Digital space to our brightest minds.
How do you think Bytedance’s new efforts against fake traffic on Douyin will affect the platform?
Senior Account Manager / We Are Social
Fake traffic is misleading both the brands and consumers which creates a false sense of success or popularity. For the brand, they not only gain the wrong impression of what impacts the sales, but also the level of attention it receives, which eventually makes them reinvest (wrongly) on these types of initiatives. On the other hand, it does suit its purpose with impulsive purchases of products consumers otherwise wouldn't know about. However, it probably will affect the perception of the brand badly when it doesn't meet the customers' expectations. In the end, fake traffic just leads to wasted resources on social media, so that's why we need to reject it.
Account Manager / We Are Social
Fake traffic is necessary and beneficial at some level for Douyin when you can influence hot topics and trends to stimulate the “herd mentality” between the real users, which can drive the overall success of the platform. However, uncontrolled fake traffic will impact the vitality of the platform to a large extend, resulting in users distrusting the platform.
Account Executive / We Are Social
Bytedance's previous failed attempts of cracking down on spammers and fake users that are disturbing the real traffic showcase how Douyin hasn't responded enough to traffic data frauds. This "traffic pool" might be too profitable to ignore, so Douyin and Bytedance might risk losing users' trust in the attempt of rooting out all the traffic fraud. This recent anti-fraud initiative is nothing more than a "delayed tactic" to evade and cope with public opinion.
Copywriter / We Are Social
For the platform itself, there is nothing wrong with using “fake” traffic exposure to popularize the content. However, high-quality content creators will be affected hard by fake traffic. Furthermore, the reputation and influence of the platform will be damaged by these "ghosts". Platforms are required to be more supportive of the content creations made by real people and brands. After all, traffic exposure is just a marketing tool, not the final aims.
Copywriter / We Are Social
Fake traffic is not a phenomenon that only occurs on Douyin, but throughout many Chinese social media platforms. Regardless, for the accounts that want to go viral or advertisers who want to sell through live-streams and more, fake traffic is hurting the legitimacy of the industry. Investing 10 million RMB on an advertising campaign and end up with false data and user flows is truly toxic for the industry. Therefore, whether the new anti-fraud system has a positive impact or not, this improvement will be appreciated by most of the brands and grassroots bloggers.