A couple of weeks ago we watched as the world freaked out over the six hours that Facebook and Instagram went offline. Around the same time, Facebook’s whistleblower exposed how, despite internal research showing the platform’s negative effects on the mental health of teens and democracy in general, the company continuously pursues profit over people (1). While the news was disturbing, it’s a stretch to say we’re surprised.
It begs the question: Why are so many brands going to market with strategies that leave them reliant on a single platform that also happens to be the Internet’s most dubious company?
The short answer is one that starts with campaigns like Zuckerberg’s $1B investment into content creators (2), hits its stride with headlines like learn how I gained 100k followers in one month! and ends with tens of thousands of influencers directing small businesses to build a brand strategy that lives and dies with the success of a company that doesn’t care about humanity.
This dynamic isn’t far off from the pharmaceutical industry rewarding doctors for pushing drugs that ruin lives for a payday. Facebook funds the campaign for small business reliance on their platforms by paying influencers to exaggerate how fast you can grow with them while ignoring cultural consequences and offering virtually no support to small brands that are losing money on the platform.
Look, for the time being, your customers are on social media and I’m not here to argue that you shouldn’t meet them there. But thinking in a vacuum that leaves your entire marketing strategy entangled in a single platform isn’t a smart business decision, especially if your values aren’t aligned and it creates an ethical dilemma for you.
Our Strong Brand Social community has long been discussing our distaste for Facebook’s track record of putting profit over people. Its role in the war on truth, the effect of dividing our society, and unethical behavior around consumer privacy are all just tips of the same scary iceberg.
If you’re aspiring to be a thoughtful and empathic business leader that can leave the world in a better place than we find it today, we need to get into the work of diversifying our business strategies. If you want a marketing plan that can outlast the Insta-apocalypse, you need to think differently.
The answer is about creating a holistic content strategy that extends beyond social, is platform-flexible, and adaptable across your full digital footprint. It’s about learning how to lead through never-ending digital transformation and finding the confidence to think for yourself.
I don’t have all the answers but I have a bunch of ideas. If you’d like to learn my core principles of a Facebook-proof marketing strategy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your corner,