Facebook: Treating Lung Cancer With Cough Syrup

I have a cough… so I take cough medicine. I have a headache… so I take Tylenol. I have a symptom, so I treat that. But what if it’s because of something else? What if it grows or is a small symptom of a much larger problem?

Facebook is facing the same question and has decided to reach for the cough syrup. They are losing millions in the under 25 market and though they have been able to use Snapchat as a beta to improve Instagram and its shared features with Facebook, the problems keep adding up. Facebook acknowledges that they are an open platform, a community connector to become engaged, but with the implications of the last election and the question of some publications getting preferential algorithm treatment — what culpability do they or should they accept?

Facebook has made changes to its positioning for businesses and the concept of little to no organic traffic has scared and deterred a lot of small businesses from a continued presence on the platform, since they know they can’t compete with the ad spend of larger brands.

Prognosis: The Facebook ecosystem is broken.

Personal News Feed

In addition, those with personal accounts are inundated with ads that make them feel like they are in constant need of improvement. For example, a close friend uses her personal account to stay close with friends, family, and colleagues, but instead she is met with a constant barrage of ads. Targeted ads that simply create the idea that she is lacking and in need of products to create self-worth.

According to my Facebook newsfeed, I need the following:
Body shapers
Body make-up
Hair coloring
Magnetic eye lashes
Magical highlighters to air brush my face
Concealer that doesn't crease in my wrinkles
A "vampire facial" in place of surgery
Spanx with mesh cheek cutouts
Eff you Facebook, eff you

It’s OK though, because Facebook has medicine for that. It’s call Facebook lists. Thanks. Now I can list all of the wrinkle creams I need, all of the beauty products I use, and all of the places I wish I could go when I jealously look at a 22 year old in a bikini in Greece on Instagram. Oh, did I say that out loud? I guess that’s a new status update. Although, special thanks for the “Did you know” section which allows me to basically answer password questions and put them on my profile. BRILLIANT!

Prognosis: Over ads and unnecessary post features on personal news feed.

Publishers and Advertisers

It’s exodus time. More and more publishers are realizing that Facebook First isn’t the viable option is was previously and are removing their content and/or ad spend. Can Facebook win the argument that it is cleaning up its news feed and embracing what it sees as quality content? Well, there’s a pill for that with the ability to harness paywalls for its instant articles. The fake news problem that Facebook has been “dealing” with seems to have led to manifestos, memos, and not much else. Yes, there have been some strategic hires to create some manufactured semblance of journalistic integrity, but as someone scrolling through your news feed, do you feel any more confident in the “news” you are seeing? Are you afraid that as soon as you share that article, you will immediately be met with a Snopes link retorting the validity?

This plays directly into the power of advertising on the platform. If you create an environment where news cannot be trusted, how can ads trying to sell you something be seen with any more credibility?

Prognosis: They can’t.

Small Businesses

In creating a news feed that essentially ostracizes business content (that let’s remind you was opted into with a like and follow), Facebook is turning its back on a core group of the Facebook ecosystem: small businesses. There are numerous small businesses across the country who have thrived under the ability to create and share their business through Facebook business pages. They have been able to share content, stories, grow awareness and thrive under the organic and inexpensive targeted advertising that Facebook came synonymous with. I see multiple clients who come to me with the original marketing strategy of simply having a Facebook business page. Now, while I argue that is only a component and a more thoughtful approach to their audience, ad spend, and customer relationship need to be looked at, it is difficult for these businesses to jump into a pay to play world where they don’t seem themselves as competing with their neighbors. They see themselves competing with large brands with ad budgets that could buy out their entire business.

Where do they go now? If they stay on the platform and actively advertise will they (and their fellow neighboring businesses who have similar targeted audiences) see a bidding war for their ads? Digital spend is only going to get more expensive as traditional advertising methods, such as print, go out of style. Will these businesses, who have essentially bootstrapped their social media reach, now have to further spend money into the platform with the hope that they are creating a stronger ad, through content and ad budget? For many small businesses, this will not happen and they will simply give up or move to another platform.

Prognosis: Cough up the money

All of this begs the question: how are you connecting us Facebook? With each feature or algorithm change you stifle a group. With each post you absorb our personal information for the betterment of advertisers who use it to show us ads we don’t want for products we don’t need. You suppress articles that contain political views that you disagree with and continue to turn a blind eye to other’s concerns for what your platform is doing.

It’s time for a biopsy. It’s time for you to truly tackle more than just the symptom. We (as personal users, publishers, advertisers, and businesses) need you to give us real solutions, real treatments for what you have become. No more Band-Aids. No more cough syrup. Find a cure.

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