Somewhere along the lines, Facebook’s focus shifted from simply connecting a user with their friends and family to hacking their mind through their feed and getting brands to pay for that access.
2004 — 2006
Facebook began in a dorm room with the intention of connecting students of Harvard in 2004. From Boston, it expanded quickly to Stanford, Yale, and Columbia before spreading to many other colleges.
Two years later, in September of 2006, anyone in the World could make themselves a Facebook account.
Just one year after opening up the platform to all, brand pages came to Facebook and, for the first time ever, social relationships between customers and brands were possible by posting original content to encourage fan interaction. Brands were able to be everywhere their customers were.
In 2009, “Becoming a Fan” of a brand was the way a person could show their loyalty in front of their Facebook friends. This made brands re-think the content strategy and voice used on the channel since it became so consumer-facing. The role of a social media manager was born and having a brand presence on Facebook went from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” tool for most businesses.
Contests and Promotions also began because Facebook recognized the monetary value it presented for a brand. Many of the contests being run had one rule: like and share a business’ page for a chance to win. This increased fan bases of a brand quickly and cheaply. Small businesses were even able to grow and reach untapped audiences- which was never a possibility before.
Cue the Facebook ads. Marketers were able to take page posts and turn them into ads that could be targeted to anyone through user data. Brands saw that they could use Facebook to sell their products and to test their customers with new products to see which would perform.
Facebook claimed 19% of the $70 billion spent on mobile advertising worldwide in 2015.
Facebook made $39.9 BILLION in 2017, more than 99% of which came from digital advertisements. The social network generates revenue mainly from targeted advertising and user data.
Then, like an avalanche, we were abruptly woken up. Data theft, trolling, online bullying leading to suicides, harassment, fake news, GDPR, California Data Privacy, and Russian bots took over our feed. Not to mention the huge misuse of 50 MILLION Facebook users’ trust by Cambridge Analytica leading up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
Facebook has misused and misrepresented the use of their users’ data, privacy and security of over 2.2 billion people by granting global companies access to that personal information. During Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing in April 2018 with Congress, the Facebook founder told Congress that “We don’t sell data to anyone” and it remains safe in Facebook’s hands. While it is true that Facebook has not sold user data directly, they have struck deals to share that data to more than 150 companies since 2010 with active deals even in 2018.
We’re all very familiar with the companies that had access to contact information, private messages, and friends lists:
(Data) Damage is Done #DeleteFacebook
Jebbit, a data company, conducted a survey between July of 2018 called The Consumer Data Trust Index, where they asked 400 adults in the US to answer how much they trusted 100 of the biggest consumer-facing brands in the US with their personal data in exchange for “more relevant offers, good, and services” on a scale of 1 to 10. A score of one means there’s no trust and a 10 means complete trust. Out of all the brands, Facebook scored last with a mean score of less than 3.1.
“Well, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center, it’s time to reconsider the toll these events have taken. Many Facebook users have begun to rethink their relationship with the app. In fact, the report shows as many as 40-percent of U.S. users have taken a break from checking the app for several weeks on end. Additionally, 44-percent of younger users in the United States have deleted the app off of their phone entirely, a software company’s worst nightmare in the mobile-friendly world we live in.”
— By Dakota ShaneCo-founder, Copy Buffs
It seems as though Facebook has started to feel the consequences of their screwups over the last few years where it could hurt the major platform most — its user growth. In Q3 of 2018, Facebook confirmed that the number of DAUs in US and Canada has remained flat at 185 million since the beginning of the year, while the number of European users had dropped from 279 million to 278 million. It’s important to note that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May which initially caused Facebook to lose 1 million monthly active users in Europe.
After Zuckerberg’s hearing, The #DeleteFacebook movement began with the revelation that Cambridge Analytica — a political marketing firm that worked with Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign — improperly stored the data of 50 million Facebook users.
Steve Wozniak, an Apple co-founder, was the first high profile user to join the movement and speak publicly against Facebook. Brian Acton, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014 for over $19 billion, chimed in on Twitter which prompted Elon Musk to respond with action. He had the Tesla and SpaceX pages removed from Facebook. Numerous other celebrities also have joined the #DeleteFacebook exodus, including Will Ferrell, Rosie O’Donnell, and Jim Carrey.
The Facebook founder told reporters that the company hasn’t observed any “meaningful impact” from the #DeleteFacebook movement or related advertiser threats to stop spending on Facebook. But, he acknowledged that the backlash isn’t good.
You’ve Invested Too Much in Facebook. What’s Next?
Brands have spent so much time and money building their audience and investing in growth on a platform that they don’t own. Traditionally, Facebook has been a solid platform for brands to use as an extension of their user engagement strategy. Unfortunately for those brands, Facebook users have begun to lose trust. Over time, more will trust brands less and less that leverage Facebook as a means of engagement and boycott. In short, you cannot truly own an audience through a third party facilitator and it’s time to move on and take back what’s yours.
The shift has begun: organizations are beginning to take control of the community around their brand. Online forums, email lists, and branded mobile applications all provide chances for brands to go over the top and reach audiences directly. Though online forums and emails do not provide an environment for community relations to happen and thrive, it is better than renting space on a major social channel. The inconsistencies and lack of transparency are too big of a concern. Any brand could be one algorithm change away from losing an entire channel of communication with their fans.
You have built up your audience by offering a top quality service or product that they want and see enough value to give you their money for; you’ve earned the right that you should be able to reach your fans directly as you see fit. Your 100% ownership over your audience guarantees that they’ll see your message when you opt to send it. As the owner of content distribution, you no longer have to compete with other creators for mind-share.
A custom, fully-branded community is the only way to truly take social ownership over your audience. Traditionally, building a solution like this is a timely and very costly feat to take on. If you want to own your audience and build a space for them to live and grow, Honeycommb is your answer. Finally, you’ll own every piece of user data, all user-generated content, and engagement around your brand, as you should. Through Honeycommb’s platform, you can create a social community space where the data of your members is safe and they can build relationships with each other. The relations between your members translates into real brand value for your business. It’s time to stop “borrowing” space on large, convoluted social platforms that change their rules constantly.
Partnering with Honeycommb means you get a new member of the team and a complete solution at a fraction of the cost. You’ll learn from technology and community experts who are committed to seeing you and your community connected in the best way digital can offer.