by Jason Keath on Jun 27, 2020
Facebook’s 3 billion monthly users is larger than any country, organization, or religion in the history of humanity.
With that size comes influence. And responsibility.
Social networks, Facebook especially, have a responsibility to reduce their negative impact on society. That’s the premise behind the #StopHateForProfit Facebook boycott campaign from the ADL, NAACP, Sleeping Giants, and a few other non-profits. The boycott challenges brand advertisers to stop all ads on Facebook owned properties during the month of July.
The purpose of the Facebook boycott is to reduce bad actors on the platform, specifically any content promoting violence, white supremacy, or voter suppression.
Facebook can do a lot of good in the world. We want them to make these updates to improve the health of the platform.
Joining The Facebook Boycott
Social Fresh has joined the boycott because we believe Facebook can do more in these areas.
The North Face was the first household name to sign on. As I’m writing this, more big brands are coming on board including Verizon, Unilever, Coca-Cola, and more.
If your business is considering joining the boycott, it’s important to have a plan and be intentional. Let’s walk through some questions you should consider. And get specific about how to pivot your ad dollars away from Facebook – and still be successful.
4 Questions To Ask Before Joining The Facebook Boycott
Question 1: Do you believe in the campaign?
Don’t join the Facebook boycott out of fear. Truly consider if your business aligns with the cause. And why. Understanding why you support this boycott is important. How does it align with your brand purpose?
For example, two of our brand values at Social Fresh are a focus on inclusion and improving platform health on social networks. The boycott aligns with these values by both protecting targets of hate on Facebook and reducing the impact bad actors.
Question 2: Can you join the boycott?
We are in a trying time. Many businesses are struggling. And many depend on Facebook and Instagram ads for a large part of their revenue. If it is going to do significant harm to turn your ads off, do not join the boycott.
Question 3: Where will the money go?
Whether you are stopping $5k worth of ads or $500k, decide where that money will go. I have some suggestions for you below. It comes down to 3 main options: supporting relevant causes, alternative ad platforms, and working with publishers.
Question 4: What statement will you make?
If you choose to support the Facebook boycott, say why. Even if you cannot pull your ad dollars, explain that. Maybe you can pull 10% of your ad budget for the month and work on becoming less reliant on Facebook in the long term.
Talk about that, and why even that small step is important for your business. Anyone will be able to see if your business is running ads on Facebook, so if you support the boycott say so early to get ahead of being called out.
Those 4 questions ground your decision to join the #StopHateForProfit boycott (or any boycott).
Let’s walk through 5 steps to help you reallocate your Facebook dollars to meaningful marketing options.
5 Steps For Reallocating Facebook Ad Dollars
1. Identify Your Business Goal
Every business has different business realities. Can you invest your ad budget in a relevant cause? Does it need to drive sales? Decide what percentage of your Facebook ad dollars needs to drive business results for July and define those results.
If the freed up ad budget needs to work for your business through other ad channels, that’s fine. Make it a conscious decision.
2. Make A Statement With Your Ad Budget
Consider how your ad spend can both work for you and make a statement. Jerry Daykin, Media Director at GSK, suggested that brands “need to think about where they are investing positively.” Specifically, look to invest in “a direct partnership with a minority-owned/focused publication to really validate the point.”
Look for partnership opportunities with businesses or causes that align with your brand values.
3. Invest In Alternate Ad Platforms
If you need your ad budget to work hard for the business, there are many platform alternatives to Facebook ads.
Scott Monty, former Global Head of Social at Ford and executive advisor, recommends focusing on the results you need. “Use Youtube and Google for awareness, split 80/20. And for sales, use Twitter and Pinterest, split 50/50.”
Don’t try to spread your budget across a dozen new channels. Choose 1-3 options that make sense for your business.
Mindy Thomas, Marketing Director at Paul Mitchell Schools, said for their locations, lead generation is always the main objective. They are advising schools that opt into the boycott to split their budget 70% to Google and 30% to Snapchat ads.
4. Look To Creators and Influencers
Like many marketing channels, influencers and smaller media outlets were hit hard during the pandemic. Podcasters and YouTubers have seen drops in revenue. Look for industry-specific creators and niche influencers that align with your needs.
Podcasts are a great low lift option that any business can tap into.
I recommend using a free audience search tool like SparkToro. It focuses on helping you find podcasts, influencers, or YouTube channels that might be the best fit for the audience you need to reach.
5. Test Something New
If your business has been wanting to test ads on Snapchat, TikTok, or LinkedIn, now is your chance to invest in something new.
Shama Hyder, Founder and CEO of Zen Media, recommends a PR focused approach. “Most companies try to advertise direct and push to their site but a much better move is to amplify 3rd party credibility.”
Once you see earned coverage results, Shama recommends that businesses should “amplify those using LinkedIn ads and Twitter ads.”
Another alternative for brands to consider is spotlighting their thought leaders or executives. Scott Monty also recommends brands “look into Reddit as a place for community involvement – particularly an AMA, if appropriate.”
Will It Work?
People have asked me if I think this boycott can effect change at Facebook.
In short, yes.
I don’t think Facebook is going to lose a ton of money from this – that’s not the point. It’s about public pressure and consistent improvements to the platform.
There are two main reasons I think the #StopHateForProfit Facebook boycott is working and will create change:
It’s building on the anti-racist and anti-hate movement of Black Lives Matter. The energy and power of the BLM movement has created real change. Brands are responding in real-time.
Anyone can track who is running ads on Facebook through their Ad Library. That makes the boycott transparent on a massive scale. And, that ad library would not exist if it wasn’t for past public pressure on Facebook.
Public pressure from advertisers has already resulted in positive changes on Facebook. We won’t solve everything in one month, but every step to reduce the negative impact of social platforms is important. Brands that get involved to drive change are making a difference.