As of the publication of this blog the Facebook Boycott is growing, with over 400 companies signing on to a campaign to stop buying Facebook ads for the month of July. With Coca Cola, Unilever, and Verizon joining the boycott, it’s going beyond niche purpose-driven brands. We wanted to break down what the boycott is really doing and how digital marketers can respond this month, and in the future.

The Facebook Boycott

Understanding that the social media platform is making moves only when large corporations threaten a loss of revenue is crucial. Despite years of outcries around Facebook’s handling of hate speech, false information, and content suppression, only when Unilever pulled the plug on advertising for July did they release a statement and plan to start to address content that violates it’s guidelines. Currently, the boycott is estimated to be costing the company over 72 billion dollars. So far, the company has made some adjustments to their ad approval process and guidelines, but have not directly addressed the concerns of those boycotting. Even as we were writing this piece, they added a new feature around spotting fake news. Facebook needs to act if they are  is to appease those boycotting the ad platform, but the pressure is clearly working.

So, Should I Pivot My Strategy?

While it may seem natural that the only next step is to adjust your marketing strategy and dollars off Facebook for July, we wanted to dig a little deeper. As purpose-driven brands, it’s important to stick to your values. However, taking into account how other digital ad platforms work, and how other social media networks have handled the same situations shines an uncomfortable light on the state of digital advertising. 

In our webinar at the end of June 2020, we discussed how algorithms have been rigged for oppression. This personalization and racism is prevalent across the internet. From Google search results to trending Twitter topics means we’re looking at a much larger issue. 

Google, Reddit, Pinterest, and Twitter all having gone under fire at times for their handling of social and humanitarian issues. We have to be cognizant of what we as marketers can do. Our audience is on these platforms, and it’s our responsibility to build better information systems and help with education where possible. On the other hand, holding platforms accountable when possible, monetarily or through policy, is also important. We must look to those in positions of leadership at these companies to create stricter guidelines and support.

What Can Digital Marketers Do

If you’re asking yourself, “Where do we go from here?” you’re not alone. Finding ways to wrangle platforms and marketing initiatives is a crucial part of the conversation as the boycott approaches, and as we seek to drive lasting change. One month of no Facebook ad dollars may hurt the company, but will it truly change their policies internally and externally? And, are we really more comfortable with other platforms? Facebook owns Instagram. Twitter has regularly encountered grief for their harboring of Russian bots and Neo Nazis. YouTube creators are radicalizing young folks with white supremacist conspiracy theories. 

If you’re able to pull your ads, do so. SEO, video production, email marketing, influencer marketing or PR are all heavy-hitting channels in which to divert those ad dollars. But also think about where your budget is going. Are you truly investing in media literacy? Are you committing to supporting critical thought about your campaigns? Who are you centering in your workplace? Go beyond the idea that you can fix a problem with a platform. You are in control of your marketing messages. Making them meaningful will last and make an impact beyond the boycott. 

Ready to get started, but feeling overwhelmed? We can help. Mad Fish Digital is a Certified B Corporation and purpose-driven agency. We’re 71% women-led, and are committed to increasing the number of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous folks on our team.  We develop customized digital strategies for bold brands that align with our values, and we’re ready to help you from your internal communications to your external messaging strategy. Let’s talk.