Is Now the Time to Rethink Facebook?
I probably shouldn’t confess this in public, much less put it in writing, but I hate Facebook. If I didn’t have my business, I wouldn’t be on it.
Why, when I built a business around it, you ask?
Despite the fact everyone is on it and businesses can benefit from that, Facebook is a place full of fake news, people portraying lives they do not live, ridiculous fluff posts, oversharing that goes beyond the boundaries of TMI (too much information)… I could go on.
Facebook is a wonderful tool for businesses to take advantage of to reach their target audience – that’s what I enjoy using it for. Helping businesses connect with people.
However I am starting to rethink the whole premise of that in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach. It’s all over the news, so I am not going to rehash all the details here, but in a nutshell, an analytics company got their hands on data from over 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge or permission and used it to influence the 2016 US election.
Your information. My information. Your mom’s information. Your child’s information (if they are on Facebook). And it was all exploited to create highly-targeted ads to serve certain purposes.
So let’s see, in the past two years Facebook has been overrun by fake news, Russian trolls have run millions of dollars of ads to allegedly influence politics, people were allowed to run ads that targeted racist groups, and now a massive data breach.
As a marketer, we naturally encourage Facebook because that’s where the people are. Is it time for us to rethink that? Is it time to take a hard look at the marketing strategies we are putting in place for not only our businesses, but for our clients, and use a strategy that does not involve Facebook?
Blasphemous, I know, but I think the day is coming where we will have to consider social marketing options that do not include Facebook. I’m already exploring other options with my own clients.
Facebook use is down for the first time ever. In my honest opinion, it’s about time. Social media addiction is real and Facebook is the culprit.
When working with businesses, Facebook is always the first platform we look at and go to. Why? It’s the biggest and it’s because it is where everyone is. And it’s where the most data is available to run highly-targeted ads. Why is that? Let’s think on that a minute.
Think about all the information you put on your profile.
All the pages you like.
All the meaningless quizzes you click on and take.
All of that collects data about you. And that data goes back to Facebook to allow us to create those targeted ads.
Scary on the personal side, amazing on the business side. That’s how I describe it.
In light of the data breach, can you really trust a company that allows that to happen? A company that’s so focused on making money it has a real internal struggle going on. Sandy Paralikas, a former Facebook employee who worked there enforcing privacy and other rules was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “The people whose job is to protect the user always are fighting an uphill battle against the people whose job it is to make money for the company.”
Really? Making more money is more important than protecting information. Internally, Facebook is a hot mess. My friend and mentor Mark Schaefer had a great suggestion on how they can clean it up – go private. Everything that has ever gone wrong with Facebook all started when they went public and started having shareholders to answer to. As much as I do not like Facebook, I think this may be the right – and smart – move. They need to right the ship or they will sink, and sink fast and hard.
On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg finally responded to the data breach. You can read his statement below.
And then later that same night (March 21), Zuckerberg went on-air on CNN and apologized for the breach, saying, “”This was a major breach of trust, and I’m really sorry that this happened,” Zuckerberg said. “We have a basic responsibility to protect peoples’ data.”
Is his response too little too late? Or just another Facebook bandaid?
Personal feelings aside, I put the best interests of my clients first and if it’s in their best interest to market on Facebook, then that’s what we do. The day may be coming when everyone may have to branch out and away from Facebook and we need to be ready.
In the meantime, if you are not already diversifying your social media marketing strategy and using other platforms, this is the time to start. Look at where else your target audience is and start working on your presence there. You should never solely rely on one platform.
Will this data breach affect your Facebook activity or any strategy for your business?
If you want another great read on this topic, check out Mike Alton’s post on The Social Media Hat.