Amine is the Chief Operating & Digital Officer at AVX Digital, an award-winning Digital Marketing Solutions agency.
In late June and early July, many companies decided to temporarily stop advertising on Facebook. They cited concerns that the social network has contributed to spreading hate speech and misinformation to the public, leading to an increase in racism and radicalization. While brands such as Coca-Cola, Hershey and Patagonia were among the early boycotters, they have been joined by Walmart, McDonald’s and Geico, among others, which has led to a loss of millions in revenue for the social media giant in July.
To be clear, many companies are still advertising on Facebook, which has a base of 8 million advertisers, most of which are small businesses. Advertising was the main driver to the $70 billion in revenue that Facebook generated last year. But whether for reasons of political activism or simply to protect their brand, all advertisers should at least be considering their relationship with Facebook right now.
Much of the boycott was driven by a call for change by advocacy groups like Stop Hate for Profit. Many consumers have also grown suspicious of social media platforms in general and Facebook in particular, making it potentially disadvantageous to advertise on a platform that has negative associations with customers. So even if an advertiser doesn’t feel compelled to stop Facebook advertising for activist reasons, they may find good business reasons to do so.
As evidenced by the big-dollar numbers thrown around in conversations surrounding Facebook advertising, for the past several years, advertising on this social media giant has been a major driver in ad campaigns. It’s not clear how long the boycott will last, and there’s a chance of cutbacks even once it ends. So advertisers and their agencies need to consider their long-term plans.
For most advertisers, that means a deeper focus on the basics. You should already have data and information on your consumers, which is likely even more enhanced if you have been utilizing Facebook. Data analysis will be key. If you are not reaching your customers on Facebook or Instagram, where else might you be reaching them? Are they likely to spend time on other social networks?
At the end of the day, even during a Facebook boycott, advertising is still about reaching customers not only where they are but where they are open to being reached. One option is to double down on SEO, as that allows you to be found in a place where, by definition, your customers are searching for you or someone like you.
Ultimately, while it remains a huge source of conversions (purchases, calls, form submissions, etc.), Facebook truly excels as a source of brand awareness and growth. It is a creative and powerful network, often driving increased brand equity through compelling ads, targeted in an extremely refined manner.
SEO is a long-term strategy that also drives increased awareness, consumer education and more. Many brands are now investing heavily in their own time and resources (or that of an agency) in order to realize significant website improvements. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, many brands are opting for labor-intensive projects that limit high-ticket media spend. Through content promotion, website improvements and more, brands are driving a similar level of brand awareness at a fraction of the cost. While by no means a true replacement for Facebook advertising, SEO has the ability to help businesses lower costs to third-party publishers while planting the seed for long-term brand growth.
One final note: 2020 has taught us that consumers — especially young consumers — are just as influenced by a company as the product it offers, a point reinforced by the Facebook boycott being started by an advocacy group. While we might wish to stay as far away from the political realm as possible, the truth is that customers are watching advertisers to make sure they walk the walk and talk the talk. This whole situation drives home an important point: As business leaders, we are not separate from the issues of the world. Our customers will see through us if we pretend to be.
Not everyone can afford to boycott social media with their advertising campaigns, especially smaller companies that depend on traffic and business from them to survive. But in this current social climate, advertisers should at least be having discussions about the topic — and about flexible advertising strategies for the future.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Go to Source
Author: Amine Bentahar, Forbes Councils Member