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Let’s talk about Facebook.

Facebook is designed and developed to do one thing — sell advertising. Advertising is in every part of their platform. From the algorithm that determines what you see to the fact that it’s so easy to boost a post. Facebook’s goal is not to connect people, but to provide advertisers with the highest possible return on investment by monetizing your personal data and internet activity to better target advertising to you. Connecting people is just a side effect.

When we acknowledge that the only product Facebook actually has is the people on its platform, we start to see how dangerous the social network can be.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. What is the larger effect of boosting a post? Yes, it’s cheap. Yes, you can target groups with a high accuracy. And, yes, a lot more people see your content. But, if I boost a post on Facebook, am I not also feeding the machine and propping up Facebook? Of course I am.

As a business owner, I think the onus is on businesses to lead change. We need to think carefully about whether or not we want to support Facebook. If we pay to promote our products or services on Facebook we’re just giving them a pass on their unethical behaviour. More importantly, we’re saying we’re okay with sacrificing our customers’ privacy if it benefits our bottom line.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s no place for businesses on Facebook. Of course, there is. What I am saying is we should shift our thinking about how we use it.

We need to stop treating Facebook as an advertising platform, and more as a place where we can talk with our customers, where we take questions and provide answers. And if we do need to boost a post, we need to really look at the real cost of doing so. Is it something people must see? Are you actually contributing something of value? Or is it just a quick sell?

Let’s rethink our marketing strategies.

Do you want to know how you can more effectively target your local customers? By supporting your local community and the marketing opportunities within it. Rather than spending money on Facebook; find a local group, an event or cause that adds real value to the community, your business and support that. Imagine the effect that this could have on the community – that’s real engagement, that’s real change. Then, imagine the spinoffs on what this could mean for your business.

If you do want to do traditional advertising, shop local. Support the local papers, radio stations and publications like this one.

At ZUUL, we design and execute digital strategies for our clients. Which, generally speaking, means we make websites, but that only scratches the surface. You can reach us by email at keith@zuul.ca or call us at 519.386.0577.