In an interview that aired today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News that social media companies should allow politicians to lie on their platforms. This was in response Twitter, the president's platform of choice, adding fact checking labels and links to two of the president's false tweets about mail-in ballots earlier this week.
We already knew that this is the way Facebook does business. In October 2019, Zuckerberg and company denied requests to remove a 30-second, false, paid video ad promoted by Donald Trump's campaign. The ad perpetuated an unsubstantiated conspiracy, and was rejected by news networks due to "demonstrably false" claims. This was just one of several times Facebook made a wrong choice that had a negative impact on our democracy.
However, our firm continues to use Facebook and we continue to help our clients use and advertise on Facebook. I want to be clear about why we've made this choice, and what we're doing to make sure our clients aren't reliant on Facebook any longer or more than they have to be.
Facebook has more than 2.6 billion monthly active users — chances are, your campaign or cause can reach a large percentage of its audience on Facebook or its properties (which include Instagram and WhatsApp). There is still no viable alternative to Facebook. As it stands, it could be argued that not being active on Facebook and working to influence the narrative there is irresponsible. We've written extensively about how social media use is up during the coronavirus pandemic, and how good, world changing organizations can and should take advantage of that fact.
With all this in mind, here are three steps organizations and leaders can take to reduce Facebook's power over their success:
1. Get your people off Facebook as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. As a digital strategy consultant, I generally advise clients to spend the bulk of their social media ad budget driving people to opt into their email or SMS lists or visit their website, rather than on Facebook page like ads. The average American checks their email15 times a day and spends an astounding 2.6 hours a day reading and answering email. If you’re not building a robust email marketing program alongside your thriving Facebook page, you’re missing an opportunity and taking an unnecessary risk.
There’s an even more compelling case to incorporate SMS broadcasts into your marketing strategy and reach supporters directly on their phones. According to mobile messaging vendor Twilio, more than 90 percent of all text messages are opened and read within 3 seconds of being received. The best part is that you own your lists of opted-in emails and phone numbers, free from the undue influence of any one platform.
2. Invest in alternative options to gain new supporters/customers. Where Facebook is pretty universally effective, there are other, less-obvious venues advertisers should be exploring. We’ve had some success connecting our clients to new supporters through non-Facebook social networks. Though there’s still no surefire formula to replace the effectiveness of Facebook, using our ad budgets to bolster innovation and competition is ethically sound. More importantly, our clients can take comfort in knowing they have a diversified ad strategy.
3. Demand accountability. As Facebook’s customers and its product, it’s on us to loudly demand corporate accountability and outside regulation of Facebook. Elizabeth Warren has always been an admirable example of this. Her 2020 presidential campaign was undoubtedly a Facebook customer, having spent more than $4 million on Facebook ads. Even Warren, who has promoted a plan to break up Facebook and other tech giants, recognizes that running a campaign without a presence on the platform is too big of a risk. And that’s a problem.
If you need help designing a more reliable and diversified strategy to communicate with supporters, we’re here for you. Schedule a call with the ACM Strategies team today.