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An Alternative Response to the Facebook Advertising Boycott

July 25, 2020

In a previous post, I highlighted the ongoing boycott of Facebook advertising and tried to offer some guidance about deciding whether or not to participate. If you’re still struggling with that question, there might be a way for you to continue running ads on Facebook but also signal to your followers and customers that you support the rationale for the boycott. This strategy might also double as a way of undercutting competition from other types of ads.

I’m not talking about anything as complicated or shady as hacking the Facebook algorithm. I’m just pointing out that it’s possible for users to customize their ad experiences, though many of them are not aware of this. While you can’t change what your followers are seeing on the platform, you can encourage them to do it for themselves, and then encourage them to pass that information alone. If the trend takes off, some users might end up being more likely to see your Facebook advertising campaign in place of something else that wouldn’t have interested them.

In the months ahead, there’s a good chance that that “something else” would have turned out to be a political ad. They always proliferate during an election year, even when they represent a type of Facebook advertising that is under heavy scrutiny. They also continue to make money for advertisers, despite the fact that people are boycotting how Facebook handles them.

As I noted previously, Facebook advertising might just be too enormous an industry for a boycott to prove truly effective. And some users’ marketing campaigns rely on it so heavily that they can’t easily change course in order to support the cause. If you’re one of them and you still do want to support the cause, it might be worth enlisting your followers to help you do so. Let them know that the boycott isn’t effective on its own, but also tell them that they can help to reduce the impact of political ads by hiding them from view and telling their friends and family to do the same.

You can link to tutorials about how to block certain advertisers, or you can periodically write posts explaining it yourself. In either case, you’ll be sending a message about your own company’s principles while also prompting the Facebook algorithm to target interests unrelated to politics for more and more users. If you’re lucky, this will eventually bring new attention to your Facebook advertising campaign. But even if it doesn’t, the direct outreach to your followers might increase your engagement and raise the profile of your organic marketing.

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