Will the #DeleteFacebook movement impact your marketing campaign?
If you keep an eye on the news, you’ve probably noticed the international movement where many high-profile individuals are deleting their Facebook accounts and encouraging others to do so as well. This movement was sparked by the news that there had been a data breach where Cambridge Analytica, a company that had been hired by the Trump campaign, harvested the data of 50 million Facebook users and allegedly did not delete this data when instructed to do so by Facebook.

Over the past couple of weeks, notable companies and celebrities have deleted their Facebook accounts or announced that they intend to do so. This includes billionaire Elon Musk who deleted the Facebook pages of both Tesla and SpaceX (each of which had millions of followers) when he was challenged to do so by one of his followers on Twitter.

As an SME in South Africa with a Facebook marketing strategy, the question becomes “Do we need to be worried about this?” My initial response to this is “no”, for the following reasons:

1. South Africans are far removed from the effects of the breach

Although there are widespread consequences to the Analytica/Facebook breach, us as South Africans have our own problems to deal with, and an American election is a little far from home. Additionally, South Africans generally have very high tolerance levels before they’ll spin into action, so as a result experts do not believe that South Africans are likely to delete their Facebook accounts in this instance.

2. We’re too dependent on Facebook

For better or for worse, Facebook is a part of our daily lives. Even for those who never post anything, and are rather passive users on the platform, it is still a key method of communication between friends, family, and businesses. Saying that we should delete Facebook in fear of having our personal data stolen is almost (not quite, but almost) like saying that we should all sell our cars from fear of being hijacked. Yes, it is a real concern and we definitely need to protect ourselves, but that just isn’t a realistic answer for most of us.

That being said, I do believe that as marketers we need to be prepared to change our mindset somewhat. It’s very easy to get caught up in the amazement of how much data is available and how powerful that can be for marketing purposes, but privacy concerns are real and slowly Facebook and every other platform will inevitably start instituting tighter privacy controls. 15 years ago, Mark Zuckerberg I’m sure never dreamed that he would create a platform that would have the power to influence a USA national election, but yet here he is, giving testimony to Congress. That kind of wakeup call, coupled with the fact that Facebook’s primary concern has to be keeping their users on the platform, surely can only result in a dynamic policy shift towards user data privacy.

Users of these platforms are wising up to the fact that they are now “the product”, so our job as digital marketers must therefore be more than just pushing adverts to people based on 100 different targeting options. We have to be creative and informative, providing true value to users. User data needs to stop being treated as a commodity that can be acquired and sold, but rather as a tool for enhancing the user’s experience. Perfecting that approach is what will keep users engaged, engender trust, and ultimately convert them into sales.

Article by
Danny Nochumsohn
Co-Chief Executive
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