The Social Media Report #9

A look at the week's news at the intersection of social media and society

Welcome to the latest edition of The Social Media Report, a review of the week’s developments in technology, digital and social media. In this edition we take a look at two acquisitions in the digital space, the launch of Battenhall’s social media trends briefing, and a rundown of my must reads from this week.

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The week in review

Battenhall annual social media trends event: this week at Battenhall we opened up registrations for our upcoming social media trends briefing event.

Here at Battenhall my colleagues and I gather data daily on social media and digital trends, and our annual event is the time for us to present what we see and where we think things will be going next. Free-to-attend tickets are available online here, and for the first time since we started this event in 2013, the event itself is online too. I’ve spoken at the Battenhall trends briefing for the last seven years running, and every year it is a full house, so the good thing about lockdown times is that, if you're hoping to attend, you will probably need to travel a shorter distance this year, and we can be more flexible with capacity. 

At this event my colleagues and I will be presenting our trends in social media for the year ahead. We also unveil our latest benchmark report on the 100 leading brands on social media. Our new report will be made available shortly after the event, so by attending, you'll get the exclusive sneak peek. Hope to see you there.

Facebook and Slack in the news for acquisitions: two big deals are all about culture.

Two separate pieces of news caught my eye this week. Both are acquisitions and each pull in equal and opposite directions.

Firstly we have Facebook's $1bn acquisition of Kustomer. The social network has acquired a customer service messaging platform, and according to reports, Facebook's plan is to integrate Kustomer's technology into Facebook's suite of apps' own messaging services, to bring customer service offerings to a wider audience through social media. Small businesses and large brands alike use a range of social media for customer care, and this acquisition could mark a big step forward in this evolution. 

Then later in the week we  saw business software are brand acquire cult digital communications brand, Slack, for $27bn. The value of this deal certainly stole the headlines, and Salesforce no doubt plans to integrate Slack into SFDC's own stack and and move further into business communications, coming at this all from the opposite direction to Facebook.

What I find key here is culture. Salesforce is a company I know well, I worked with the company for three years when it was starting up and spent time in London with founder Marc Benioff briefing the technology media. He created a culture in the company, where it stood for something, for a movement. Salesforce wasn’t just a product or a service, it stood for an ambition to bring about ‘the end of software’ and having this mission galvanised those around the company and it created a culture. Slack in a similar way launched with a mission, to kill email, and galvanised support in a similar way to Salesforce in doing so. The cultures of the two companies seem to fit, and this makes for a powerful combination.

Underpinning both of these acquisitions is the same trend. That of deepening digital business communication channels. Facebook has the community, and acquired the platform. Salesforce is the platform has acquired the community. Both acquisitions signify what I see as a lasting trend to have come from 2020, that of virtual collaboration inside businesses and outwardly to customers, and at scale. It's the scale that necessitates the acquisitions at the end of the day.

My must reads from this week

On to the most interesting stories that I have been reading this week.


  • Post-election fake news hasn’t dipped much: daily interactions with right-leaning pages on Facebook fell only 6% in the 20 days post-election vs. 20 days before despite reports of an adjusted algorithm - Facebook reportedly tweaked its algorithm but it failed to decrease engagement on ideologically aligned pages.

  • Facebook safety board in action: this week marked the launch of Facebook’s Oversight Board, comprising twenty eminent lawyers, human rights experts, politicians, and journalists whose role is to decide on content issues, but it has been confirmed that the board won’t review cases that would result in legal sanctions, rendering it relatively powerlessness on some of the bigger content disputes on social media.

  • YouTube to warn users before they post offensive comments: new content filter systems rolled out for creators.

Global local

And finally

The Social Media Report is written by Drew Benvie, founder & CEO of Battenhall, The Drum, CIPR and GDXA’s social media consultancy of the year 2020.

You can follow The Social Media Report on Twitter at @TheSMReport.

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