Facebook, Inc. is in the hot seat again due to a recent The Wall Street Journal “Facebook Files” exposé and 60 Minutes whistleblower interview. As we’ve said again and again, a singular event won’t be enough to bring down the social media behemoth. Facebook will experience a degradation of its reputation by a thousand cuts: user data violations, political influence blunders, stoking civil unrest, allowing hate speech, seemingly turning a blind eye to teen depression, spreading COVID-19 misinformation … and the list goes on. Despite Facebook’s many missteps over the years, marketers feel as if they have “no choice” but to continue spending with the social media behemoth; Facebook’s advertising revenue has only ballooned through the turmoil.

We are here to debunk that myth.

If users are Facebook’s lifeblood, then advertisers are its lifeline. Advertising pays Facebook’s bills, and ethics-minded brands would have instant impact if they cut off funding. Aside from 2020’s one-month #StopHateForProfit and #BoycottFacebook movement, marketers and advertisers have remained complicit in the social media problem. In fact, in Forrester’s 2021 Global Marketing Survey, 54% of B2C marketers said they planned on increasing social advertising spend this year vs. only 11% who said that they would decrease spend. In 2019, we said that this is shortsighted; by focusing only on eyeballs and ROI while knowing Facebook mistreats users, advertisers do damage to their own customers by proxy. Today, we still stand by that.

Yo, either you a part of the problem
Or part of the solution
What’s your contribution to life
So many people complain, always talk about change yo
But what’s your contribution to life
Jurassic 5, “Contribution”

Marketers and advertisers, contrary to what you may think, you have options. Now is a great time to reassess your social media presence and get comfortable with the idea that it’s OK to break up with social media. For our enterprise audience, here are some steps to get you there:

  • Treat social media as an inbound research and insights tool rather than just an outbound messaging tool. Social media should be a key contributor to systems of insight over systems of engagement because it gathers consumer and customer information through social listening programs and social customer service feedback.
  • Understand that social advertising’s long-vaunted precision will suffer with new consumer privacy rules and Apple’s iOS update. You should already be pivoting your marketing plan to adapt to a data deprecation world. It’s a great time to reevaluate your social ad spend and get ahead of privacy changes by diversifying your media buys and considering new media channels like retail media networks.
  • If it makes sense for your brand and industry, create private communities instead of social-media-platform-hosted communities. Brand-hosted communities on brand.com websites, such as Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community, the Fitbit Community, and Intuit’s TurboTax community and support forums, give you more brand control over your community’s activity and first-party customer data.