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Following the flock or making a stand?

Wow! Have you read about the new campaign by more than 90 big brand advertisers who are planning to quit advertising on Facebook as part of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign?

It really is something when huge brands like Unilever and Coca-Cola publicly share that they are going to stop using the platform. Facebook makes the vast majority of its profits from the sale of advertising. On the face of it, this may look like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Unilever et cetera are going to have a huge impact on Facebook’s profits, however, the majority of and revenue that Facebook receives is from smaller businesses so, just how effective will this campaign be?

This leaves us (and you possibly), as a small business that may advertise on Facebook in a bit of a quandary over what to do next. Surely if the larger advertisers are pulling their ads from Facebook then one or possibly two things may happen.

1). There is less advertising traffic on Facebook so your advert, as a smaller company may be more visible to audiences that you may not have attracted previously.
2). It could mean that the cost of advertising is driven down because there is less competition for space meaning it is even more cost-effective for smaller companies to use Facebook advertising.

The latter has been the case as a result of COVID-19 anyway, as a lot of businesses have paused or stopped their marketing campaigns throughout the pandemic. The difficulty for small businesses is in deciding whether to capitalise on the quieter marketplace or advertising space to increase brand awareness or whether it is more effective in terms of brand reputation to join the boycott of Facebook advertising as part of the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign which is focusing on getting social media platforms to take more accountability for hateful and racist slurs or content that is posted on their platforms

As a business Bellyflop decided that we don’t want to just jump on the bandwagon and copy the latest trend but more live by our belief that actions speak louder than words. We absolutely callout any hate speech racism sexism or any other prejudices as and when we see them. As a gay-owned business, we don’t feel it is necessary to cover our brand in rainbow flags but it is more important to speak on all of our channels and in a clear and respectful way.

There have been many divisive posts shared on social media in recent weeks. It is often unclear if they reflect the true beliefs of the person or organisation posting them or, whether the posts are just there to pay lip service to the current trends, so they are seen to be doing the right thing.

We have no answer for this but find it interesting to observe the current trends. I appreciate Mark Zuckerberg’s stance that some posts are left on their platform in the interests of the general public so they can see what is being said and by whom. I’d be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on this too. Clearly racism sexism or any prejudice based on anything at all is unacceptable but am I being cynical in wondering if some companies are just turning their profile picture black or adding a rainbow flag to their branding et cetera but not taking any positive action?

The other elephant in the room here is that our children are seeing these divisions in society and will start to ask questions. I know that my little boy does not see the colour of skin, ability or disability and as a child with two Dads does not see any difference in his family to another heteronormative family, he just accepts things as they are and we encourage that. However, if these differences continue to be pointed out then at some point he will start to notice those differences himself. I would hope that from our parenting he is accepting of the differences throughout society but I am conscious that not all parents will be as diligent in promoting acceptance and diversity.

I’m not sure this boycott campaign will be effective, it may result in seeing less controversial posts but it won’t change attitudes, they will still be there but will be pushed behind closed doors where we may be less able to to see and call out the hate speech. I fear this is just another gimmick for brands to attract attention and show themselves to be of better intent or integrity than their competitors and simply sanitising their ad-space.