What to Do About Marketing on Facebook?

#DeleteFacebook image on Twitter highlighting Zuckerberg’s booster seat used during his hearing with Congressional leaders.

Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2010. This week the 33-year-old multi-billionaire sat in front of a Congressional committee (on a booster seat) under question for Facebook’s privacy practices. The #deletefacebook images on Twitter do not have much respect for this previous Person of the Year.

Users and advertisers alike seem to be stuck in this paradox with Facebook that we can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em.

The Facebook Addiction

The #deletefacebook movement got a lot of media attention and buzz on social media, but the reality is that the number of persons actually deleting their Facebook account has been minimal. According to Likefolio, the number of “quits per day” on Facebook has already subsided back to nearly average numbers.

Facebook’s noble mission, which they still stand behind, is “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” They do that. The platform has been hailed for bringing community and connectivity to people when they need it most. Like all good things though, too much of it can be harmful and that has certainly had some negative impacts on our society, as well.

Facebook Advertisers Aren’t Leaving Either

Brands seems to be choosing the value of the medium over the risk of being associated with it. Immediately after news broke of the “breach of trust,” Facebook leadership met with major digital ad buying groups to assure them of their commitment to retain the public’s trust. It seems to have worked. Analysis by a digital intelligence platform, Pathmatics, says most advertisers are not making changes to their campaigns on Facebook as a direct response to the story. Also, because Facebook’s advertisers are vast and diverse, unless you are a major spender, like P&G or Amazon, your leaving isn’t going to make a difference.

The New York Times (NYT) itself continued spending on Facebook in the week after their publication broke the story. “We don’t discuss or confirm advertising costs,” a seemingly unapologetic spokeswoman from the NYT said in an emailed statement. “Facebook is among the outlets on which we advertise to help reach potential subscribers.”

The reality is the cost per impression and detailed demographics and psychographics for Facebook advertising is very cost effective. The low cost of entry makes it a great solution for small business that may not be able to afford other tactics. For example, a small business can get started with a campaign for as little as $10-20 and pay on average $.20-.80 per click. This is a far cry from the thousands of dollars it takes to implement traditional media tactics.

The #deletefacebook Viewpoint

The Orwellian viewpoint.

The term Weblining describes the practice of denying people opportunities based upon their digital selves. You might be refused health insurance based on a Google search you did about a medical condition. You might be shown a credit card with a lower credit limit, not because of your credit history, but because of your race, gender, zip code or the types of websites you visit.

The New York Times reports, “Data aggregators’ practices conflict with what people say they want. A 2008 Consumer Reports poll of 2,000 people found that 93 percent thought Internet companies should always ask for permission before using personal information, and 72 percent wanted the right to opt out of online tracking. A study by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2009 using a random sample of 1,000 people found that 69 percent thought that the United States should adopt a law giving people the right to learn everything a Web site knows about them.”

Major celebrities touting their disgust and removal of their Facebook accounts to date include:  Jim Carrey, Elon Musk, Will Ferrell, Cher and most recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. While this list of names has media impact, it is still not very long.

Facebook’s Apology

The digital space is not perfect. It is still created and run by humans. There will be mistakes and breeches of trust. Back to Facebook’s mission statement to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together,” Zuckerberg said at last year’s Facebook Community Summit, “That reflects that we can’t do this ourselves, but only by empowering people to build communities and bring people together.”

The Facebook site goes on to list the responsibilities required of them and their users. Facebook has recognized their breach of trust in this relationship and have vowed to do better. I appreciate that.

The Reality

We gave up our privacy long ago and traded it for the convenience, speed and the connectivity of digital. Facebook/Instagram, Amazon, Netflix, LinkedIn/Microsoft and Google know a lot about us, and they are going to monetize it. They have to if they want to keep offering a service for free.

For years Facebook has been offering advertisers a level of targeting that I believe would shock most people. They have been monitoring your every “Like,” post and check-in and categorizing your interests and behaviors for years. Marketers have always used the best information they could attain to target who to spend advertising dollars on. Typically, the more you know about them, the better your return. Targeting people by age, gender, income, zip code, home value and even interests was always done even with traditional media. The difference is the scope and depth of digital. There are 7.6 billion people in the world. 6.4 billion have electricity. 3.2 billion people have internet access. 2 billion are Facebook users.

Following are the three major categories that Facebook advertisers can target with their ads. They can attain detail levels like not only if you own a cat, a dog, or both, but also if you follow a particular brand of pet food.


Facebook Targeting Categories

 Stay or go?

Even if you want to leave Facebook, it’s not easy. The latest explanation from Facebook, “When you delete your account, we delete things you have posted, such as your photos and status updates, and you won’t be able to recover that information later. Information that others have shared about you isn’t part of your account and won’t be deleted. If you don’t want to delete your account but want to temporarily stop using the products, you can deactivate your account instead. To delete your account at any time, please visit the Facebook Settings and Instagram Settings.”

Something to consider:  even if you do delete your Facebook account, you probably still have an Instagram account, also owned by Facebook. LinkedIn also has a vast amount of information about you and is now owned by Microsoft. YouTube also has a deep library of information on their individual users and they are now owned by Google. Consider the information that Google knows about all of us.

 A Compromise

Like all relationships, at times some compromise is required to make them work long-term. If you decide you want to participate in the online social world, use some of the following precautions to keep your information more secure:

Do not link any of your social media accounts to apps or plug ins. Never share any of the following on your social media interactions:

  • Your birth date and place
  • Vacation plans
  • Home address
  • Confessions or “venting” of any kind
  • Password clues like the “friend quizzes” on how much you know about each other
  • Risky behavior that may seem comical at the time

Know exactly what you have given Facebook permission for. They recently expanded the explanation on their site to maximize transparency. As users we agree to let Facebook:

  1. Use content we create and share. We own the content, photos and video, but for Facebook to provide their services, they need us to give them some legal permissions to use that content. So if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others, consistent with your settings. You can end the license at any time by deleting the content.
  2. Use our name, profile picture, and information about our actions for ads and sponsored content without any compensation to us. For example, Facebook may show our friends that we are interested in an advertised event or have liked a Page created by a brand that has paid Facebook to display its ads. Ads like this can be seen only by people who have our permission to see the actions we’ve taken on Facebook.
  3. If a user is under the age of eighteen (18), we represent that a parent or legal guardian also agrees to this section on their behalf.
  4. Permission to update software we use or download. If we download or use Facebook software, we give them permission to download and install upgrades, updates and additional features to improve, enhance and further develop it.

Ultimately, we have to remember that social media platforms and sharing of our information, in general, is a two-way street that requires respect of each other. Decide where you are comfortable and plan for it.