Facebook advertising has been targeted for boycott. Online businesses and social media marketing companies will have to consider how to respond. There may be reasons to participate or not participate which stem from your own personal ethics, or from commercial considerations.
One should always hope to avoid situations where these things come into conflict, but situations like the #StopHateForProfit campaign can force some advertisers to reckon with where their priorities really lie.
It’s entirely possible that you don’t have a personal stake in this campaign. And that’s fine. It’s also possible that your digital marketing campaign is not currently using Facebook advertising. That’s fine, too. But it’s very unlikely that there’s no significant portion of your customer base that has a firm view on the related issues.
Those issues stem from the apparent prevalence of hate speech and misinformation on Facebook. Boycott organizers worry that Facebook advertising subsidizes this, and they are asking companies to stop running ads on the social media platform until meaningful action is taken by its leadership.
But it’s not entirely clear what this action is expected to look like. And it’s also not clear whether Facebook has sufficient incentive to respond to the demand. Some analysts say the company is simply too big to suffer much from an attempted boycott. Facebook advertising is an ingrained part of so many business models that some users cannot afford to lose. At the same time, so much of Facebook’s revenue comes from such tiny sums and such diverse sources that it would be almost impossible to get them all to band together.
On one hand, more than 500 brands are already participating in the boycott. On the other hand, the latest projections only have the company’s stock declining by less than five percent by the end of the year. And since boycotts become more difficult to sustain the longer they go on, it’s unlikely the decline will continue much longer unless something dramatic happens.
That said, you shouldn’t conclude that this means you can ignore the boycott and wait for it to go away. There’s an underlying trend here, toward politicization of Facebook advertising. And that’s something you might not be able to avoid for a very long time. The presence or absence of your ads on people’s social media feeds could start to look like a statement of company values. And that in turn could make them a crucial aspect of your public relations strategy.
Naturally, you want your values to align with your customers’ as much as they can, without taking on too much moral compromise. In order to make this happen, you need to first understand the likely values of your commercial audience. This is something that a digital marketing company should be able to help you with, in the form of a social media audit or analysis of existing traffic to your website.
From there, you can begin to develop an understanding of whether your intended customers even use Facebook, whether they are likely to be politically active or social engaged, and ultimately what position the majority is most likely to take on the Facebook advertising boycott. And of course, this is only the timeliest example of how you can use customer data to tailor your message. The data that you obtain for this purpose will inevitably be applicable to other situations, as you make day-to-day decisions about who you are as a company, and who your customers want you to be.