All good things must come to an end.
For brands and retailers, that good thing might just be their relationship with Facebook — the social networking site that’s embroiled in a security scandal that has social media reeling with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook.
The online plea came after political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly misused the personal data of nearly 50 million Facebook users, which the platform’s head honcho Mark Zuckerberg addressed in a post to his profile Wednesday afternoon.
Following the widespread outrage, companies with business profiles on Facebook might be less inclined to use the service as part of their online marketing strategies.
JCPenney is among the major retailers that have employed Facebook advertising in hopes of driving sales, opting for dynamic ads in a digital campaign that spanned from September 29 to October 8 last year. As a result, Facebook reported that the department store chain saw a 12.2 percent boost in online sales, 10.4 percent rise in incremental sales and 6.45 times more incremental online returns on each ad spent.
Adidas and Lacoste have also been deemed success stories by the social network, with the former using the Facebook collection ad format that delivered 5.3 times more return on ad spend and the latter gaining an 8-point increase in preference for the brand compared to its competitors in France, according to data published by Facebook. (Both companies declined requests for comment.)
But the implications have yet to be seen. In an interview with CNN, Zuckerberg issued an apology, telling viewers that “I’m really sorry that this happened.”
However, for Brandon Doyle, CEO and founder at digital marketing agency Wallaroo Media, simply expressing regret — without taking action — isn’t enough. In fact, he said his company had began discussions to veer away from Facebook when then-President-elect Donald Trump took up the phrase “fake news” to describe what he understood as a hostile media environment back in January last year.
“We’ve been proceeding accordingly with our agency and clients over the last several months,” Doyle said. “We saw the writing on the wall and started shifting focus. Facebook has long been a ‘do what we say, not what what we do’ situation, and we can’t get behind that as a company.”
As for the larger impact on brands and retailers, Doyle said he believes that the shift is already taking place. “Brands will be much more hesitant to put focus on Facebook marketing,” he added. “Facebook has betrayed the public’s trust too many times, and this most recent event will be the last straw for some. I foresee more focus being shifted to Instagram — even though it’s a Facebook property — [as well as] Snapchat and Pinterest.”
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