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We believe Facebook is bad for us — not just from a practical perspective, but from a moral one. We can no longer, with good conscience, participate on a platform whose ethics are exactly counter to ours. Even beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal, news continues to paint a grim picture of the digital empire that is Mark Zuckerberg’s.
Related: Facebook Admits Using Two-Factor Phone Numbers to Target Ads
While we originally used the platform because we felt it would be natural to reach out to those that might be looking for a safer, saner alternative for connection and collaboration, we were overlooking the most important point. Facebook goes against our moral code as a company. Idka is, after all, providing a platform that allows users to express themselves and share with chosen groups, without misusing personal information. Privacy is at the heart of what we do. Moreover, Facebook ads don’t actually work the way you may think they do.
The practical side
As a marketer, it was difficult to imagine life without a Facebook page, or some kind of presence on the world’s largest social network. Social media, after all, has long replaced traditional media as a vehicle to gain market visibility. With roughly 2 billion Facebook users out there (depending on which studies you believe) you would think that running an ad campaign on the platform would bring plenty of eyeballs to your brand. Many will tell you that to delete Facebook is to commit marketing suicide.
And then there’s the real world.
There’s a difference between traffic and clicks. Upon closer look, not many of the clicks we got from updates and ads actually led to conversions. In fact, many of those so-called Facebook users who “liked” our page, had questionable profiles to begin with. Were we being seduced into spending more money on Facebook ad campaigns to keep up the clicks?
The reality is, only a small percentage of your audience, even people who have liked your page, will see your content. Just because your content is in their newsfeeds does not mean there is any guarantee that they will see it. Actual engagements are expensive, as high as $10 each — too expensive, in my book, in light of the alternatives out there.
Related: Why Google and Facebook Should Be Treated Like Banks
Facebook could actually be hurting your brand.
The algorithms that Facebook has created, essentially to direct traffic, could actually be hindering your ability to reach your target audience. Why? A large percentage of the “likes” we were getting were “fake” — meaning that they were coming from Facebook accounts that were simply set up to like pages. Click farms, as they are called, are usually set up in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, where people get paid to click and like pages.
These audiences aren’t there to engage with your brand. And, when Facebook sees a large number of likes coming from a certain audience, they show your ad to similar people. This takes away visibility from smaller groups that could actually be more relevant to your brand. In other words, Facebook stops showing your content to audiences that are more likely to engage, i.e. click or sign up.
Own your data.
By now it’s no secret that Facebook is home to (and owner of) a world of data. This also means that, with a company page on the platform, you are essentially giving away your audience to Facebook, and you really don’t know what happens to your audience’s data. You don’t own any of it. With GDPR in play, it also means you are jointly responsible for any data breaches or misuse of that data, even if the data breach is Facebook’s fault and you had no control. Bottom line, that’s too risky.
Related: Facebook’s Answer to E.U. Privacy Law: Accept Data Collection and Ads, or Don’t Use Facebook
It’s depth, not breadth that matters.
No matter how much time we spend running around chasing likes and clicks, we cannot forget that our real fans are our most valuable allies. When I say real, I mean those who are actually interested in our product. We need to steadily engage those people. This means deepening our conversations with the community who cares about what we are offering, rather than trying to reach millions at a time. In other words, better to have meaningful dialogue with 1,000 potential fans, than attempt to convert millions at a time with general messaging and broad reaching campaigns that deliver minimal success.
Along with a deeper engagement, building a stronger connection with existing users and customers will help spread our message more effectively than any social media campaign — slower maybe, but the end result will undoubtedly be stickier. Engagement involves listening to feedback, improving service — ultimately producing a product that is superior and better suited to the users we want to keep.
The conclusion we’ve come to is simple. Less emphasis on what’s bought, manipulated and fake … and more attention to what’s real and true to our core vision and values.