Over the last few weeks I have had several clients we work with ask me if our social media strategies need to change, considering the recent revelations on Facebook and how it handles data. My answer is pretty simple: No!
Here are the top three reasons why I am not, in the slightest, worried about Facebook or businesses’ positions/strategies on the platform:
1. Facebook is way too big and way too important to too many people’s lives for a “delete Facebook” campaign to ever really do significant damage.
Facebook has at least 2.2 billion active monthly users. To give that some perspective, that is more than six times the number of people living in the U.S. today (676.92 percent larger than the U.S., to be exact). This number does not even include the other social media platforms that Facebook owns, like Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Not only is Facebook massive, but it also supports thousands of jobs and businesses around the world (one of those businesses here in southern Colorado is EasySocial). It is estimated that Facebook influenced $227 billion in economic impact and 4.5 million jobs globally in 2014 alone. About $100 billion of that was here in the U.S. This number doesn’t even include Facebook’s direct spending and employment numbers.
This is basically a long way of saying that Facebook is so massive and so incorporated into our global economy that it would take a truly gigantic event to unseat it from its position of importance.
2. Frankly, everyone has known that Facebook collects a huge amount of data on us at all times and then turns around and sells ads to us based on that data. That is their business model, and they aren’t exactly shy about it.
People have been sounding the alarm for a long time that companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook, Apple and others can collect massive amounts of data on the public and sell it with little oversight. You can argue about whether people should or should not care about these “invasions” of privacy. However, at the end of the day, the sad but unavoidable truth of the matter is that most Americans and most people in the world simply don’t seem to care enough. I say care “enough” for a reason. Many people may care that their data is being sold and many dislike the fact, but to really protect your digital privacy, you have to almost completely disengage from the platforms and services that these companies offer. For most of us, that simply isn’t an option and we are willing to accept our data being for sale if it means we can continue to use their services for free.
3. Yes, businesses will have to adjust their strategies this year, but not in some cataclysmic way. If we are being honest, Facebook’s news feed algorithm changes a few months ago had a much larger impact on businesses than this whole scandal ever will.
A few months ago, Facebook began changing the algorithm that determines what content makes it into your news feed. The changes were meant to begin favoring real people’s content — your aunt and uncle posting about their vacation — over organizations’ content — your favorite shoe company posting about their new line. This change had a real and almost instant impact on how many people businesses and organizations were able to reach with their messages. This single algorithm change had a much larger impact on businesses than any of the news in the last month about Cambridge Analytica or the data that Facebook was or was not selling. There is good news if you are running a business, however; this algorithm really favors content that creates engagement (comments, tagging friends, etc.). That means if your organization has a content strategy that engages with your audience, you should weather this change just fine. If you don’t, then you have some real work to do to change how your company approaches social media (we wrote another article on this algorithm change and it is on our website).
In summary, if your business is currently engaging with customers through Facebook, which every business should be, you don’t need to worry about the recent news. In general, companies like Facebook are likely to continue operating almost exactly like they have been for the last several years for at least a few more years. This doesn’t mean that your business won’t need to alter or adjust your social media strategy, however; social media is constantly changing, and therefore how business owners and managers handle it must also be constantly re-evaluated and adjusted.
Timothy A. Zercher is the president and CEO of Pueblo-based EasySocial. The EasySocial team manages more than 30 companies’ online marketing and advertising efforts across the United States. Zercher can be reached at easysocial.solutions.