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Should Your Facebook Advertising Respond to Boycott Demands?

July 4, 2020

Facebook advertising is under fire from a boycott campaign identified by the hashtag #StopHateForProfit. Advertisers are being encouraged to avoid the social media giant until meaningful action is taken to limit the reach of hate speech and misinformation among users.

Opinions vary about the impact that this will have on Facebook itself. Some say the company is too big to be greatly impacted. In fact, as of this writing, more than 500 major brands have signed onto the boycott, but shares of Facebook are only expected to decline in value by less than five percent for the year.

Ironically, a larger impact would mostly depend on smaller companies pulling their Facebook advertising. And many feel they simply cannot do this. Their weekly revenue is far too closely tied to the exposure that they get via the platform.

But while all of this raises questions about the efficacy of the boycott, it doesn’t necessarily say anything about the value of participating. There are ethical reasons why you might want to do so even if you feel you’re not able. And then there are practical reasons why your company might benefit from participation even if you don’t think it will make a difference.

The fact is that when companies are called upon to participate in a boycott, their responses can have as much to do with public relations concerns as with their own actual, intrinsic values. For this reason, the #StopHateForProfit campaign will provide incentive for many companies to commission a new analysis of their Facebook advertising, its goals, and its intended audience.

A professional social media audit should be able to tell you a lot about that intended audience and the extent to which it can be expected to support the campaign. Your current reliance on Facebook advertising doesn’t necessarily communicate much on its own.

Considering just how large the user base is, it comprises countless different communities that behave in entirely different ways. Some are entirely apolitical, while others might be sensitive to the message of the boycott, but not so much so that they’ll actually pay close attention to which Facebook advertising messages they are still receiving. Still others may limit or halt their use of the site in an effort to amplify the reach of the boycott.

Realistically, most Facebook advertising campaigns touch upon people who fall into each of these categories. So each company that runs such a campaign will have to think long and hard about how to respond to the current circumstances. The challenge will only grow more complicated if the boycott drags on over the long term. But with the right social media marketing professionals, at least you can enter the decision-making process with a clear sense of your options, including alternative means of spending the budget you currently have allocated to Facebook advertising.

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