Facebook’s Big Brother Move: Where We Are Headed in Digital Marketing
What we know about Facebook’s egregious experiment gives us some insight into how far they will go to turn a profit off your content, your friend’s content, and ultimately your emotions. If we take what we’ve learned about their recent manipulations and extend them to their logical evolution, I can see a future where Facebook "shapes" our news feed (they are already doing this to a very large extent) to the emotional advantage of their advertisers.
By feeding you more "sad" posts can you imagine they would have better results for their antidepressant advertisers or even fast food or Ben and Jerry’s? Of course you can. In this digital marketing landscape where everyone is collecting and selling your online profile to everyone else, they probably already know if you’re on antidepressants. So perhaps an alternative prescription ad is served to you.
Facebook is buying and selling all the personal information about you that they can. So is Google, Amazon, and any other online marketing giant. By now, your name might be anonymous, but your identity is not. And your "preferences" are shaping every ad that is shown and every re-marketing opportunity that follows you even after you’ve left the target site. And there is only one reason, sales.
And if you’ve paid attention to Facebook’s revenue they are 90% dependant on advertising. And guess what, if you don’t click, they don’t make money. So they are desperate to shape your news feed for maximum sales potentials. So today, we’ve seen new information about an "experiment" that Facebook conducted in trying to influence your mood. Why? What advantage would this give their various advertisers?
Since FB is in control of your news feed, showing you about 10% of the content from your "friends," there is no reason to think this practice is not already in wide use. What do people buy when they are depressed or sad? And what do they buy when they are happy? And now, instead of "listening" for those signals based on what information shows up organically on your news feed, Facebook is letting us know they can manipulate that feed anyway they like. Of course they can. And of course they do.
In some of my recent posts on trying to get my news feed under control again, I have outlined a few ways you can kill some of Facebook’s signals (Unlike companies, books, movies, products, that you don’t really care about.) to hopefully return my Facebook feed to be about people I care about and not products and companies I don’t. And there’s even an AdBlock (list) that will help you suppress some of Facebook, and all social media networks, collection of your personal information.
We are not going to free the feed until we get to another platform. And today, unfortunately, Google+ isn’t the choice. It’s good, but it’s primarily for us marketers. I love it, but I don’t have many friends on it.
Is the issue adoption? If we got all of our friends to jump on to G+, all at once, would it work? Perhaps, but that’s not happening. So what is the tipping point? At what level of disappointment will the trend turn against the commerce-driven feed? What would it take for YOU to abandon Facebook?
Today, as a business and advertising platform Facebook cannot be ignored. It is a force. But it’s abuse of privacy, and lack of concern for the user’s experience, may at some point in the distant future be the downfall of Zuck and his empire.
I certainly don’t have anywhere else to go. Yes, I rant and rail on Facebook, but I keep coming back. It’s where about 15% of my traffic comes from. And some of my clients are dependant on Facebook ads to help drive revenue. But I don’t like it, and I don’t like the signs that this new experiment in "shaping" our feed implies for the future of our Facebook feed.
But until they listen and make some drastic changes, or until a new platform arrives with such benefits, transparent marketing practices, full following content, pay to eliminate ads, Facebook will lumber on trying to collect my information, feeding me bogus posts, and trying to make a buck on me, even when I have AdBlock ON. God bless AdBlock.
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)
- Facebook’s Trust Problem – Scott Monty
- Facebook’s Unethical Experiment – Slate
- 46 Things We Learned from Facebook’s Studies – Forbes
- Facebook tinkered with users’ feeds for a massive psychology experiment – AV Club
- Everything You Should Know About the Facebook Experiment – Wired
- AdBlock Plus < get the best adblocking add-on
Check out the Strategist’s Notebook page and these other posts about online marketing:
- FACEBOOK FACTS: Take Charge of Your Newsfeed on Facebook 2014
- Beyond Reach: Facebook Metrics & Considerations
- Facebook Business Pages: Why Keep Advertising on Facebook?
- Facebook Business: Your Customer Service Web is Facebook, Are You Listening and Responding?
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In addition to direct consulting, I work with the digital marketing agency Fluent Social.