If you’re reconsidering the ethics of Facebook advertising in the wake of recent revelations, you are not alone.
We’ve been here before, as we reported on the Stop Hate for Profit initiative last year. That campaign, organized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP among others, may have had little impact on Facebook ad revenue, but it did provide advertisers with a platform for communicating serious concerns about the company’s algorithms that reward divisive and even harmful conversations.
These newer revelations will likely have the same minimal impact on Facebook, barring legislative action, but it’s still important for us, as advertisers, to think deeply and strategically about how we engage with Facebook.
Then, as now, the reality is that Facebook and Instagram deliver real strategic advantages for small businesses. Even the ADL CEO, a former Silicon Valley executive, describes the Facebook network as “the most sophisticated advertising platform in the history of capitalism.”
One could argue that we can’t afford not to be on the platform.
We also can’t ignore the reality that content in other media has its problematic elements. Think about unrealistic body shapes and sizes portrayed in fashion media or inflammatory partisan stories on cable news.
While the algorithms of social media exponentially weaponize its negative aspects, there has always been a trade-off when it comes to advertiser-supported content.
What’s important is that we are thoughtful about our part in it.
- Be proactive in telling employees and stakeholders why you will continue to advertise on the Facebook network while helping them minimize the negative impacts of social media on their lives.
- Use the Facebook ad network intentionally to attract qualified prospects to opt-in with you. Work to build and own those relationships on your own platforms vs. chasing follower growth on Facebook.
- Facebook ad objectives should be lead generation, video views, or website visits vs. simply paying for “awareness.”
- Earn interest and attention on Facebook by being helpful, inspiring, and informative to your target audience. It’s especially important to be responsive to comments and questions.
- Avoid engagement for engagement’s sake. It’s easy to get your engagement rate up with inflammatory or divisive content, but that won’t actually grow your business. Don’t hesitate to hide or delete comments that don’t serve your audience or your brand.
- Align your success metrics accordingly. Instead of engagement rate and follower growth on the platform, prioritize website clicks, lead generation, conversions, response time, and cost-per-conversion vis a vis your customers’ lifetime value to your business.
Also: be especially attentive to your social media employees, where burnout is rife from the negativity.
“Carcinogens” - On his blog, No Mercy / No Malice, New York University professor Scott Galloway compares the algorithm-driven advertising model from both Facebook and Google to the addictive quality of nicotine, while also addressing digital ad fraud.
“Facebook Assures Agencies That Brand Safety Data Is Reliable” - Ad Age summarizes the guidance Omnicom Media Group gave its clients based on close communication with Facebook. (Paywall)
“After Massive Outage, Small-Business Owners Lament — And Reconsider — Dependence On Facebook” - NBC News explores why and how small businesses can benefit from the Facebook network without being overly reliant on it.
“Does Instagram Harm Girls? No One Actually Knows” - A New York Times opinion piece by a psychology professor who has written nearly 500 articles on teen development takes the position that some of Facebook’s leaked internal documents are inconclusive.
Can we help you with your Facebook and Instagram advertising strategy to generate website visits and leads? Let us know! Email Nora or call the number in our footer.