Unfriend Facebook?

You’ve probably seen your fair share of headlines about Facebook this week. They’re full of not so fun words like data, Cambridge Analytica, Russia, the 2016 election, and privacy, and have left users and businesses wondering whether they should join the #DeleteFacebook campaign.

In a nutshell, Cambridge Analytica pulled data from 500 million Facebook users, may have swayed the 2016 election, and Facebook wasn’t exactly honest about what happened. Marketers are wondering how it’ll affect them as the rest of the world has one thing to say to Mark Zuckerberg:

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Um, what happened?!

We’re not going to explain it all because this scandal runs deep... like, almost 8 years deep. See a detailed timeline here to break down how Facebook started adding the sketch factor to their business model.

Basically, way back when, Facebook said to its users and the Federal Trade Commission, "You guys, it’s cool, we won’t share your data without your permission." You can probably guess that that wasn't enforced very well. Cambridge Analytica, a data firm based in the UK, started collecting data on millions of user profiles in direct violation of Facebook’s terms, using the data to build software and target voters in political campaigns.

Now, Cambridge Analytica is being investigated by authorities in the US and the UK, and Facebook is under massive scrutiny for the way they've been treating user data. Turns out people don’t like it when you track everything about them without telling them. Stocks are falling, people are distrustful of the social media giant, and there are whispers of possible social media regulations in the works.

What does it mean for my Facebook page?

Now let’s get to the important part. Should you unfriend Facebook, abandon your business page, and go all in on another platform for your social media marketing? Unfortunately, we can’t give you a straight yes or no answer. It’s like shaking a Magic 8 Ball; some users and companies are saying goodbye (Elon Musk, looking at you) and others are convinced that Facebook isn't going anywhere. Here are some things to keep in mind as you ponder whether or not to keep your relationship with Facebook strong:

  • People aren’t that chill with change. Honestly, most of your audience is probably still on Facebook and will be staying. People make these kinds of changes super slowly, and research has already shown that usage has not changed as a result of the scandal. And with companies like Target and Equifax having their own data breaches, this isn’t their first rodeo. The whole “#DeleteFacebook” conversation may have spiked, but there are no numbers thus far that are showing a Facebook exodus. If the majority of your target audience is on Facebook and it's a high-value channel for you, keep using it but note your engagement numbers to see if anything changes.
  • Brands still want those 2 billion users. Facebook is the friend advertisers kind of hate. They’re increasingly skeptical of the platform, but Facebook has access to the audience they want. And it’s unlikely that brands will start deleting their pages all at once, although it is worth noting that some companies (notably Mozilla and Commerzbank) have started taking a stand against advertising on Facebook. If ads are working for you, you don't need to necessarily stop, but we always recommend not putting your eggs in one social media basket. Keep trying other avenues like Twitter, Pinterest, Adwords, and even good old-fashioned print to spread that brand awareness around.
  • Your ads might decrease in power. Facebook is already saying sorry and limiting their ad targeting. This stops marketers from using data from third-party platforms in their advertising efforts. While Facebook’s internal data game is still strong for targeting your ads, this might be only the first of their many steps to regain customer trust. Keep an eye on your ad performance carefully.

As much as we want to say we know what will happen, we don’t. But don’t be alarmed if you notice a decrease in your post engagement or a shift in your advertising effectiveness as Facebook weathers this storm. Instead, take the time to look at your overall social media strategy and make sure you have flexibility to readjust as the news keeps rolling in about whether the future of Facebook gets a 👍or a 😠. 

P.S. We’ll  return to our regularly scheduled Slice programming next week with some handy tips and best practices on how to set up your company’s YouTube page! Review Part 1 here