Get ahead of Facebook with these strategies

What Zuck’s interview means for marketers

Mo Dezyanian
Mar 23, 2018 · 4 min read

Finally, Mark Zuckerberg has spoken publicly about Facebook’s recent data scandal. Most notably on Wednesday night, in an interview on CNN. In addition to the scandal, the Facebook CEO spoke about the state of the platform as it relates to the election, fake news, and privacy.

For us marketers, a few key takeaways:

  1. Mark is “really sorry” that the breach happened. He offered some (notably vague) action steps to prevent future leaks and trace back past data breaches.
  2. Though he can’t quantify it, he admits there is link between “bad apples” in Facebook and election results. He’s committed to fixing that.
  3. He admitted that Facebook has made big mistakes, that he never guessed he would be in such an influential position, and that they are learning as they go. I believe him on this one!
  4. He’s ‘actually not sure we shouldn’t be regulated.’ Specifically, he is for ad transparency regulation, which is a good thing. He even went on to say Facebook is doing more than legally necessary before bills are passed in Congress. However, that double-negative — “not sure we shouldn’t be regulated” — isn’t entirely reassuring.

What does that all mean for us marketers? First, let’s look at what it means for the platform and its users.

Facebook is in a brand crisis

It has been for a while. Russian hackers, election influence, data breaches from years ago — the trust in the Facebook brand is eroding, rapidly.

And while Zuckerberg is following the leadership book on managing a trust crisis — connect with people, be human, admit to your mistakes and apologize — he’s not succeeding. The stakes are too high (5 million users’ private info leaked and how many unknown??), and he’s not charismatic. Nor well trusted.

To many, it feels like Zuck’s making this up as he goes. And now that the stakes are this high, the young guy-in-a-hoodie shtick is a lot less appealing, or acceptable. There have been some calls for him to step down as the CEO (but given that he owns more than 75% of Facebook’s class B stock, which gets 10 shareholder votes per — compared to the 1 for an ordinary Facebook investor who owns the A shares — he’s probably feeling pretty safe in his sinecure).

“With all the charm of an awkward teenage robot in a wig, Zuckerberg finally clarified that he was “really sorry that this happened.” — Gizmodo

Facebook is in an advertising crisis

Remember, Facebook is coming out of a few data misreporting episodes to advertisers. They also just reduced organic reach to make brand pay more to reach their audience. So they effectively doubled down to become an advertising platform and a media company — as much as Zuckerberg likes to call it a “community.”

Now with the latest data crisis brands are starting to pull advertising dollars out of Facebook and the stock price have been plummeting, too. Which is the real reason why Zuck’s coming out of the shadows.

Side note: Queue Google’s swift entry to scoop ad dollars!

Facebook’s future

It’s not all doom and gloom. My prediction is that Facebook will become an all-around life utility tool over time, rather than a social network. By that I mean that the public will use its great features to store and share their photos, track events, keep in touch with friends, curate news, review businesses, connect with businesses for customer service…

But they might start to log in less. When they do, they might scroll less of their feed and even engage less with content.

What can you do to get ahead of the trend?

Here are 3 things marketers can do to get ahead of the brand and advertising crisis in Facebook.

  1. Use it — mine Facebook data to find your audience. And double down! Facebook is still a robust, dominant ad platform, offering incredibly detailed targeting at scale marketers of all sizes.
  2. Also double down on transparency. While Facebook is trying to figure out what it will do to rebuild trust, ask yourself this: what can you do to build trust around your brand’s advertising on Facebook? For example: could you provide a page on your site where people could review all the ads you might be running on Facebook?
  3. But once you do, own don’t rent. This has always been a good practice, but now it’s more important than ever. Migrate your audience away from Facebook and towards your owned properties (website, newsletter, and so on).

Now’s the time to leverage Facebook as a robust acquisition tool to build your brand, capture your audience and support your content strategy. There’s still time. Facebook is not going anywhere. Yet!

Empathy Inc. — Occasional Insights

Thought leadership about business, marketing, and media

Mo Dezyanian

Written by

Marketer. Climber. Dada. President of Empathy Inc.

Empathy Inc. — Occasional Insights

Thought leadership about business, marketing, and media

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