Should Businesses Quit Facebook Advertising Over the Cambridge Analytica Scandal?
In April, it was announced that British firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested information illegally from tens of millions of Facebook users since 2013. Facebook knew about it and did nothing. CEO, and founder of the social media giant, Mark Zuckerberg, released a statement apologizing for the breach of trust, and explained that Facebook was still trying to understand the severity of the problem, and put in place measures to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
At the end of March, VP and chief privacy officer Erin Egan, and Ashlie Beringer, VP deputy of the general counsel, promised to address privacy concerns with new updates that would make privacy settings easier to find and adjust. Users can review and delete shared information, use two-factor authentication, control the ads they see, and delete posts from their profile or timeline they don’t want anyone to see.
What you should know about #DeleteFacebook
The public outcry echoed around the internet, and outraged users and advertisers called on businesses to delete Facebook. The hashtag #deletefacebook started trending shortly after the news about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica broke.
The New York Times, in conjunction with The Guardian and Observer of London, obtained documents from Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm owned by right-wing donor Robert Mercer. The document proved that Cambridge Analytica used data obtained from Facebook illegally to influence voting outcomes. Britain’s Channel 4 News filmed senior executives bragging that they could use bribes, sex workers, and fake news to help political candidates they favoured win elections. Political campaigns included the Brexit vote, and Trump’s presidential election victory. According to Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, over 50 million Facebook profiles were mined for data, which was fed into a type of software developed to help influence election results around the world.
Should businesses switch to other social media networks?
While some users and advertisers have deleted their accounts since the scandal, is it the right business decision to delete your Facebook account too? Consider that some businesses with tight budgets have launched successful campaigns with as little as $100, whilst spending $1 a day on advertising. It’s almost impossible to find another social media platform that can deliver such impressive results with such a small investment, geared towards helping businesses meet their business goals.
Combine that with the easy-to-use Ads Manager platform that includes comprehensive ad reporting and sophisticated analytics tools that are essential to the success of every social media marketing campaign. Mark Zuckerberg also explained that Facebook sells access to data not user data to advertisers. This is the unique feature that helps advertisers match their adverts to a specific customer segment, who are the most likely to buy their product or service.
Through mobile, businesses can become larger, and go global. It is estimated that there will be over six billion people online by 2020, and two out three users will access the internet via a smartphone. Irrespective of size or budget, all entrepreneurs can access the same marketing tools and reach their target audience.
A recent public opinion survey shows people will continue to use Facebook, in spite of the scandal. Facebook is developing the most advanced artificial intelligence to analyse user data and solidify its position as the top online marketing platform. A study of Canadian Facebook users found that 41% plan to review their privacy settings, 27% won’t make any changes, 4% will delete their account, and 6% will put their account on hold.
The Head of Online Business at DiscountDomains, Brendan Wilde, suggests that having a solid business plan and using social media correctly makes it difficult for your business to be affected by the fallout from the scandal. Wilde goes further to explain that Facebook remains an essential part of social media advertising, and a great place to release new content, get accurate feedback from customers, engage followers, and keep your audience in the loop.
As long as Facebook continues to home over 2 billion users, most advertisers will stay. A few companies such as internet software company Mozilla, and a German bank, Commerzbank, however, paused their advertising, as well as 3,000 British advertisers under the umbrella of ISBA.
Facebook reports another strong quarter
The financial world was surprised when Facebook announced its quarterly earnings on April 25. Facebook beat revenue estimates as revenue grew 49% to reach $12.0 billion, beating an estimated $11.4 billion profit estimate. Despite worries about the delete Facebook campaign, daily active users increased by 49 million, and stock prices rose 7% in after-hours trading immediately following the scandal.
Brands don’t want to stop buying Facebook ads. Zuckerberg has vowed to do more to protect customer data, and with over 95% of brands sticking with Facebook, combined with billions of users who’ve decided to stay, at least for the time being, your business ad budget will yield results on Facebook.
Co-founder of Cornerstone and marketing junkie, Michael knows just how to diagnose your online problems and remedy the issue. An online enthusiast who believes in technology as an enabler of growth, Michael worries about all the details so you don't have to.