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  • John Walker

It’s Hard to Feel Good About Facebook These Days

I used to use Facebook every day to connect with friends and family. But I stopped using it regularly because it made me feel edgy and uncomfortable. I still use it with some client marketing campaigns but I’m starting to struggle with that decision too.

For me, it’s hard to feel good about Facebook these days.

Why I Stopped Using Facebook Myself

Using Facebook made me feel emotionally bad. Why?

First, when I was on Facebook, I felt a constant draw to see what other people were doing and that distraction kept pulling me out of the present moment.

Using Facebook also lured me into extending my network of personal connections wider than I wanted it to be. Honestly, at this point in my life I want to connect with a relatively small group of family members, friends and business colleagues. We’re talking less than 50. And those are people I really care about and make an effort to connect with in a real way. I write them letters, I call them, I text them, we meet for coffee. Beyond that core group, I don’t have the time or emotional energy to stay closely connected. To be blunt, I don’t need to see vacation pictures from someone I went to high school with.

Lastly, when I was using Facebook regularly I found myself seeking the flimsy social proof of wanting more attention and likes. I’d post something and keep checking back to see if it had been viewed and liked. It was emotionally shallow behavior that brought me no real happiness.

These reasons I stopped using Facebook are personal and I don’t mean to impose them on other people. Others may enjoy using the platform to connect with friends and extend their social network. That’s ok and I wish them well.

But what about Facebook as a marketing platform?

I’ve recommended Facebook as a marketing platform since before it went public in 2012. It used to offer strong organic reach- when you posted something lots of people saw it.

Then, as the platform moved to paid advertising, I used it for many successful digital marketing campaigns because it could reach specific, narrow audiences. But over time my concerns about Facebook have grown and today I wonder if it is a still a smart platform for clients who care about how their brand is perceived.

I’ve always agreed with Marshall McLuhan’s statement that “the medium is the message” which is why I’ve never liked seeing law firms advertise on TV or schools advertise on billboards. In both cases the medium degrades their brand value regardless of the messaging. The context in which advertising appears is important. It also makes a statement about which media organization advertisers want to support with their ad dollars.

So what are my concerns about Facebook? First, as I said above, I don’t enjoy using it. Being on Facebook everyday was bad for my mental health and I suspect that may be true for others.

Next, Facebook has demonstrated a bold disregard for users’ privacy. For example, they don’t have a “privacy policy.” Instead they have a “data policy” which outlines all the information they collect, how it’s used and how it's shared. Reading it is not comforting. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is just one of many unsettling examples of how Facebook shares personal information to the detriment of its users.

Third, Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said that Facebook will not be responsible for the accuracy of content on the platform. He argues that’s it not a “media outlet” but that it’s a “platform.” Facebook does monitor content in an effort to remove violent content but they refuse to edit even the most misleading statements by politicians. He is also willing to run political advertising that is factually misleading. In contrast, Twitter has stopped running this type of advertising and is now getting more aggressive about labeling political statements that are false or damaging. This month, these issues caused such concern among Facebook employees that they staged a virtual walk-out.

The last point is that I’ve seen how Facebook is weakening local news organizations by starving them of local ad dollars. Mark Zuckerberg has argued that Facebook is not a media platform and, by extension, he implies that what’s on the platform is not “news.” Tell that to Facebook users, many of whom now use Facebook as their main “news” source. I fear this trend is heading toward less coverage of news by locally based news organizations. That troubles me.

So I’m sharing my concerns and I’d like to start to talk with clients about these issues so they can be fully informed about where they’re investing advertising dollars. After all, the “medium is the message.”

This post was written by John Walker, Principal Consultant at J. Walker Marketing. Want to talk about your marketing plan? Contact us today or call: 717-283-7713.

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