In this episode, Katie and Chris reflect on the revelations about Facebook Inc. and how a company’s business practices can put it so far out of alignment with your core values that you have to stop doing business with them if you want to stay true to your values. But making a major change like ceasing to do business with Facebook isn’t something you can just flip a switch on: you need a roadmap, a plan of action, and steps to take to determine how to reduce your dependence on Facebook’s platform. Tune in to find out more!
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:02
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.
In this week’s in In-Ear Insights, a bit of a different topic, but one that’s important to us because obviously, you know, we as well as many other companies do have ethics and values that we say we stand for.
In the last month or so, a lot of information has come out about the business practices at Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, with the Facebook files, various whistleblowers and things coming up.
And the short version is that internally, Facebook as an organization knew that was doing a tremendous amount of harm to the world, undermining elections, deeply damaging, women’s self esteem, all these things that we have known, anecdotally are known qualitatively.
But now having essentially evidence dug up by investigative journalists and stuff of internal documents saying, Hey, we know this problem, hey, this, these groups on Facebook are being used for for human trafficking, or, or illegal exchange all these crazy things.
It’s okay, we’ll get into that individual details on what all these allegations are.
My question to you is this as people? And as companies who say that we have these values? What are these values? are, they are out of alignment with what Facebook is doing? So what obligations Do we have to uphold our values, but saying, we’re not going to do business with Facebook, while balancing the fact that an awful lot of clients see it as a necessary evil to get marketing results? How do you balance that? And then how do you get people realigned, realigning their values with their business results?
Katie Robbert 1:55
Well, you know, it’s I saw, I saw little snippets of what came out from 60 minutes last night, and one of them was that Facebook knew, if they change the algorithm, to show you know, less of the fake information, then people would spend less time on Facebook, and therefore they would, you know, engage with less ads make less money.
So Facebook knowingly said, We care more about money than we care about actual people.
So that’s Problem number one.
And that’s sort of the crux of the conversation, as a business.
You know, I think that, you know, in a idealistic world, we would all just walk away from Facebook and shun them and say, No, we can’t do business with you.
That’s the ideal situation.
That however, is not a reality.
Because there’s a lot of shops that are reliant on the revenue from running Facebook ads, or running organic social on Facebook, or whatever it is they’re doing with Facebook.
And unless they, you know, have an airtight backup plan to replace that revenue, it’s not going to happen overnight.
And I think that that’s going to be the challenge there’s going to be for businesses, I think we all want to do the right thing.
But then when we look at the financial hit, some of us may not be able to do that right away.
And so the obligation, then as the business is to come up with a plan to take steps to start moving away from working with software platforms, such as Facebook.
And so if you say, Okay, I can’t replace the revenue today, how long would it take me to replace that revenue? And what could I replace it with? And so that would be the ideal scenario to say, Okay, I’m comfortable walking away.
Because I know what I can do instead, I think that that hard and fast cut off is going to be really difficult for a lot of companies.
The other side of it is that there’s a lot of people who, and I’m talking sort of general public who either aren’t aware that this whole whistleblower thing is happening, where they don’t care.
So they’re just going to keep using Facebook because they like playing, you know, Fruit Ninja, or whatever it is.
And they can only get that through a service like Facebook, or they really like the features of Facebook messaging, and Facebook phone calls.
And so Facebook has engrained itself into our culture’s enough so that the general population is like, Yeah, I know that maybe they’re evil, but I’m not going to walk away because I really like being able to, you know, post pictures of my cat and talk to my family.
So I think there’s a couple of things you know, companies need to be able to figure out how they can replace that revenue.
And the general population needs to also make the decision to walk away because if people still keep using it, then they’ll still be a need for it.
So it’s, it’s not an easy situation.
It’s not an easy like, we all wake up today.
Find out that Facebook is evil, and we all shun them.
Like they’re a massive, massive global enterprise company.
Like the biggest social media company.
So how, like, how do you walk away from that?
Christopher Penn 5:15
Well, therein lies the problem for a lot of folks is that for some folks, Facebook is the only way they connect with certain groups of people.
You know, the, the analogy, or the the example I’ve seen cited a lot is, you know, this is how I stay in touch with, you know, my old high school friends and stuff like that, I would posit that a Facebook is the only way you stay in touch with those people, they weren’t that important to you to begin with, otherwise, you would have stayed in touch with them other ways.
But that’s, you know, a different thing.
The, the network effect is really strong.
And that and any number of social networks have come along and tried to replace Facebook, try to be a Facebook killer, none have succeeded because of the power of that network.
Like this is where all the people are, these are the people you’ve already established connections with.
And so that inertia, that laziness, if you will, or that at least unwillingness to make change is is what keeps Facebook in business, because the switching cost is too high.
From a values perspective, if you look at Facebook’s values, as a company, they are in line with what they do, right? It says, you know, be bold, focus on impact, move fast, be open build social value.
No, it doesn’t say be ethical be, you know, morally correct, make people happier, make the world a better place that’s not in there.
And so what they’re doing is technically, what they say they’re doing, you know, from a utilitarian ethics perspective, they are ethical, they are doing exactly what they said.
It’s kind of like, you know, the, the old fairy tale, the genies in the lamps, you know, be careful what you wish for, because you will get it exactly the way you asked for, even if it has substantial, unintended consequences.
From a change management perspective, then, if we know this is a bad thing, and we know, we have to, you know, build this pathway, this exit ramp from it, how do we do that as as companies? what’s the what’s the process to to start our exit plan?
Katie Robbert 7:13
We have to start with the people.
Because the people are the ones who are going to actually execute any kind of a plan.
And so, you know, I think where effort efforts like this go wrong is mandates, you know, and sometimes mandates are necessary in terms of like, you’re gonna do what I say, you know, I don’t care if you have questions about it.
This may be one of those situations where, you know, the CEO or whoever mandates, okay, we can’t use Facebook anymore.
It does not align with who we are as a company.
I don’t care if you disagree, this is the direction moving in.
So maybe it’s a mandate, or maybe it’s a conversation with the teams who work with the Facebook platform to say, if we were to remove Facebook, from your arsenal of tools, what does that mean to you so that you can get a better understanding of just how deeply ingrained Facebook is.
And so, you know, maybe they’re a company like us, and we don’t do a lot with Facebook, you know, we might post our videos, or we might run our live stream through Facebook.
But it’s not the only platform that we do that through.
So for us, removing ourselves from Facebook is not going to be that big of a deal.
We might lose a couple of followers.
But can we live with that? Yeah, probably.
Facebook isn’t really where people watch our live stream anyway.
So could we remove that channel? Yeah, absolutely.
We can do all of those things.
And we won’t be terribly impacted by that.
Now companies like our good friends at epi squared media who a lot of their services are running social ads.
Most of their clients are asking for Facebook ads, because it’s they are B2C.
So business to consumer companies.
And so selling things like jewelry, selling to advertising, you know, property that’s for rent, those kinds of things, a lot of people go to Facebook, to get that information.
Facebook has basically positioned itself as your one stop shop for news for information for you know, for buying things for learning what’s happening for you know, getting the latest and greatest, you know, pretty much everything and connecting with people.
So to get to start the change management process.
First you need to understand for your own company, how deep the roots are with Facebook, how much of an impact that’s going to be before you just start saying we can’t do this anymore because there may be unintended consequences of that and a ripple effect of like, Okay, if we move ourselves from Facebook, we’re also actually removing ourselves from Instagram.
We’re also actually Removing ourselves from WhatsApp or whatever the other, you know, few services that Facebook actually owns.
So that has those consequences.
And so I would say, to start that change management process, you first need to understand the magnitude of the issue for your company, it’s not enough to just say, we’re not going to do this anymore.
Christopher Penn 10:22
And so putting on your hat as a marketer, how do you what does that plan look like to replace Facebook? From a services perspective, if you are a company that is trying to market? If you are an agency that markets on behalf of clients? What do we replace Facebook with, given that it does have so many people on it?
Katie Robbert 10:44
It may not be one thing, it may be, you know, a suite of things.
And so the first thing, you know, tactically you need to understand is, who is your audience who you’re marketing to? on Facebook? Who are those people? What are their interests? And where else? Do they hang out? Are they only ever on Facebook? So is it something where, you know, you can start the process of asking people, hey, we’re going to be moving away from Facebook, if you’re comfortable, please give us your email address and sign up for our newsletter, instead, you can get the same kind of content, whatever the thing is, if it’s, you know, if you’re a B2B company and you’re on Facebook, odds are you may be able to find the same types of people on Twitter or LinkedIn, you know, and so really just understanding who your audience is on Facebook is number one.
And then number two is figuring out how else can I reach the same group.
And so it may be, you know, letting people know actively, hey, we’re moving away from Facebook, here’s where you can find us instead.
And, you know, it really depends, because there are a lot of other social media platforms out there.
Christmas is something that you do reporting on, at least annually in terms of what’s going on with social media platforms, and the list continues to grow.
And I think that it would be an opportunity for companies to get creative with how they’re reaching people.
So if, you know, you rely on Facebook videos, maybe YouTube or another video streaming platform, would be a way to reach people.
So I would say, definitely figure out who’s on there who you’re reaching.
And then it may not be replacing it with one tool and maybe a suite of tools.
Christopher Penn 12:27
Yeah, I definitely agree.
I mean, Tiktok, obviously, is is having just crossed a billion users, monthly users is certainly one of the candidates on the video side.
So much so that the head of Instagram development has basically said we’re going to, we’re pivoting to try and make Instagram more like Tiktok, because it’s eating our lunch.
So there is that.
I also think there’s an opportunity for folks to look at, you know, running their own communities, you know, setting up a Discord server for you and your friends that you want to stay in touch with.
Being able to have a place where people can go or slack community like, you know, the slack community, we run analytics for marketers, we have about 2000 people in there that we, in some of them, we don’t have any other way of reaching other than like, maybe email.
So we don’t need yet another third party service to get those folks.
What will be challenging, I think, will be like you said, for those companies where there’s a lot of Revenue Online.
But the other thing that I think might be helpful there is that we know thanks to increasingly strict privacy regulations and stuff, the Facebook ads themselves are performing, you know, less and less well over time to the point where it will be not only an ethical decision, but a financial decision as well to say like, Look, we’re flinging a lot of money at this, these ads, and we’re not getting the results that we used to, maybe we need to run Tiktok ads instead, or try out more in app advertising directly in the apps that we know our customers want.
knowing your audience really is the most important thing that because if you survey your existing audience and say like 80% of the say, Oh, yeah, we all play the video game top war.
Okay, let’s run ads in top, let’s go to an Ad Exchange, run ads in that game and see if we can pick up new folks who are similar in interest, it’s just that the marketers would have to be willing to do that level of research.
Katie Robbert 14:21
And I think that that is really where, you know, the change management will fail or succeed is the willingness to make the change.
You know, we’ve all gotten used to, you know, Facebook Business Manager, and you know, the ins and outs of running Facebook ads, and it just sort of like it’s, it’s fairly straightforward.
Like to their credit, their UI is not that complicated.
And so it comes down to are marketers willing to learn something need to do that research, you know, it might be the task of the CMO to determine like, Here Five platforms that we’re going to test out, for companies that are running ads, it is going to be risky, because if they’ve never run ads on other platforms before, they don’t know the kind of performance that they can expect to get, and therefore, how do they pass that along to their clientele, to say, this is what you’re going to get instead of Facebook? Because I guarantee you, there’s going to be plenty of companies out there like, well, we’ll still run ads on Facebook, if nobody else will, we will, and we’ll take the money, there’s going to be plenty of companies out there like that.
So there’s definitely going to be that moral and ethical decision that you as a company need to make of Are you okay, losing that business to somebody else, because Facebook doesn’t align.
But then also, are you okay? experimenting and testing with these other platforms that may be unknown to you that you may lose a little bit of money.
And so it’s going to be a real r&d project where you’re investing in, those are sunk costs that you may not get back, because it may take a while to find the right kinds of things, I would actually say right now, given what’s going on with Facebook, it’s a huge opportunity for all of these other platforms to really be promoting ourselves, but like, hey, look, what we can do, these are the kinds of results that we get, these are the kinds of audiences that we attract, here’s what you can do, that’s a one to one with Facebook, like, if you are some, if you are a company that offers some kind of an advertising platform, if you’re not out there today, you’re missing an opportunity because people are going to be looking today.
Christopher Penn 16:36
And one of the things that we do knows, particularly for the generation of folks who are under 30.
When we look at how they allocate investments, when we look at funds that do well, ESG funds do very well, environmental, social, and governance funds.
So these are investments where there’s an ethical purpose of some kind at the heart of them.
And people are saying I want to invest in companies that align with what the way I want the world to be I want to invest in companies have a lower carbon footprint, I want to invest in companies that are open and transparent, and they’re reporting and are governed well.
And I think that, to your point, if a company can say, here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it, we need your help customers and friends, we need your help to reach out to you and to others in the community and you know, who are like you that would like to work with us, so that we can divorce ourselves from Facebook so that we don’t have to give them any money.
Because we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, Facebook itself will not change.
The reason it won’t change is because the CEO is still the majority shareholder and the chairman of the board.
So the board can’t even evict management normally in a situation where you have a non functional company, the Board of Directors swoops in just cleans house and says, Okay, we’re firing everybody in the C suite.
That cannot happen at Facebook, there is no way for that to happen, because the CEO is the majority shareholder.
So you know, Facebook won’t change.
So the, the owners of changes on us, but there, I think you’re right, Katie, not only for the ad companies themselves to do that reach, but for companies, radio companies to say, Hey, we want to leave Facebook, we need your help marketing to your friends.
Because those we would normally use Facebook to help us understand where else you spend your time.
If you’d like what we do, please recommend us to your friends through any channel except Facebook.
And, and see what kind of results you get that way.
Katie Robbert 18:33
I feel like this, you know, companies are going to want to do right, but I can see where trying to make this kind of change is going to feel very isolating.
Um, and I say that in the sense of like, so let’s say we were a company that ran ads.
You know, Chris, obviously you and I would be having this conversation and saying, you know, we don’t feel comfortable running ads on Facebook anymore.
And so you know, we start to make that switch.
But nobody else is making that switch because there’s so much money tied up in it.
We can I can see where from a psychological standpoint, we would be feeling like, Well, why are they Why are we the only ones who are making this change? Why is everybody else still comfortable? Should we still be comfortable with it? And you start to you know, second guess your decisions.
If even though you know what you’re doing is right.
Nobody else is following suit.
You’re like, Well, wait a minute, am I doing the right thing? Or am I just getting up on my soapbox for no reason.
And I should still be running ads on Facebook.
Now obviously, it’s, you know, more complicated than that.
But I can see where, you know, even smaller companies, they’re going to struggle to balance that doing what’s right versus you know, what’s financially sound.
To your point, Chris, Facebook’s not gonna change they’re not going to go away so they’re still going to continue to offer the opportunity to run out Through their platform, that’s gonna be really hard for companies to walk away from.
And it is it’s purely financial, it’s not because they know, they don’t know what Facebook is or what they stand for.
It’s the money thing.
Christopher Penn 20:14
One of the interesting antidotes to that, or potential antidotes to that, though, is if you have a channel, a method of communication, besides Facebook, to talk to your customers, asking them how your decisions, change how they feel about your brand, right? And if you can point to evidence that behaving ethically and demonstrating effort and putting your money where your mouth is, improves customer retention, or improves word of mouth marketing, then when you do have those those doubts, you can say, Well, I have evidence here that says that our customers, the people who pay our bills, like what we’re doing, and again, that falls on, on marketing, to do that research and to say, hey, if we, you know, how do you feel about us, you know, no longer supporting Facebook as company, all the customers say, We don’t care, then it’s not going to be as big of an impact, and then you have all your ethics to go on.
But I would like to think that at least for some companies, that alone is enough for them to make a decision.
And a lot of companies is not, you know, the reality is money makes literally everything function in the business world.
And so if you are intentionally taking less profits, there are downstream consequences for that.
But at least from an executive perspective, you probably sleep better.
Katie Robbert 21:38
And it’s it is it’s a tricky balance, because doing Rhett’s was it doing what’s right is not always what’s easy.
And so it’s, you know, finding that balance, you know, it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of days, weeks, months.
My gut is saying that not a lot is going to change, unfortunately, because Facebook is such a huge, you know, massive global company that unless, you know, some other entity can step in and govern them and change leadership.
You’re absolutely right, Chris, it’s it’s not going to change, they can’t remove the majority shareholders who are making these who are willingly making these decisions.
And the more we learn about the actions and behaviors and decision making of these individuals, the quite honestly, the more gross it is.
But, you know, they’re the ones who are complete power.
So it’s not going to change.
And it’s really frustrating, as you know, people who want to do the right thing, but what I will say, Chris, is that I feel comfortable, you know, putting the stake in the ground to say, you know what, we don’t need to put our livestream on Facebook anymore, or we don’t need to push out content on Facebook anymore to try to get people to engage with us, you know, we moved our community group off of Facebook A while ago, and we can shut that down completely.
Like, I feel comfortable, at least for Trust Insights, to starting to take the steps to move away from Facebook altogether.
It’s when we look at our data.
When we look at our attribution modeling, Facebook really doesn’t do a whole lot for us anyway.
So for us, at least it’s not a big loss.
And so for us, it’s more about the principle of it versus you know, Facebook will never notice that we’re missing Facebook, we’ll never feel like Oh, Trust Insights isn’t with us anymore.
But we will know that we are upholding our own values by not engaging with a platform, like Facebook.
So I think that, you know, right here right now in this podcast, I am making the decision as the CEO, we are going to start taking those steps to move away from Facebook completely.
Christopher Penn 23:53
And here’s one thing that pretty much anyone can do that will have varying consequences.
So don’t just don’t just do it because do change management properly.
Katie Robbert 24:02
But yeah, don’t don’t just do things.
Christopher Penn 24:05
Don’t just do things.
But one thing that you could do and especially if it’s something that you have decision making authority over is removed tracking pixels from any properties you control because Facebook relies on two things relies on other people on the network, right that that that switching costs, but it also was more reliant than ever on any data it can grab because so much is getting blocked and things like iOS, Apple’s iOS operating system, if you remove tracking pixels, from your properties, you are effectively blinding Facebook, from being able to understand your audience better.
So if you again, do change management properly, don’t just arbitrarily go and start deleting things.
But if you know that it’s not you know, Facebook is not a big deal.
Pull those tracking pixels off, it’ll do a few things.
One, you blind Facebook, which makes it harder for the company to do business and to it speeds up your website.
Because the fewer little stuff that you have, even when you’re writing in a great service like Google Tag Manager, the less stuff you have loading, the faster your website gets.
So give those some, some consideration as well.
Katie Robbert 25:10
All right, well, Chris, I think we have some work to do.
You know, at the end of the day, it really comes down to as a company, what you are the most comfortable with.
So if someone questions, your decision to stay on Facebook, given everything that’s come out, then you should probably be ready with a response.
You know, because you do as a company, you do have to justify your actions.
You can’t just say, because I said, so because I feel like it in the business world that doesn’t fly, you’re not Mom and Dad, you know, people will question you, and they will expect you to have answers.
And so for us, um, you know, my response to that is, I think the way in which Facebook is operating is super shady.
And it’s not the type of platform that we want to be associated with.
That’s why we started our own thing so that we could more easily make those decisions, to walk away from things that don’t make us comfortable.
Christopher Penn 26:13
Exactly, you know, we wouldn’t we would not be comfortable doing business with a company that is more harm than good.
It does not make the world a better place.
It’s doing all the things that that is in our core values, we want to leave things better than we found it and this is clearly a platform that does not do that.
So we will go off into that.
If you would like to have a chat with us.
Just a shot.
hop on over to our analytics for marketers slack group, go to TrustInsights.ai AI, slash analytics for markers.
I’d be curious if folks would be interested in having a discussion about the tactical steps you would need to make, make to assess whether you are ready to leave Facebook or not right.
From an analytics perspective.
I think it’d be interesting, you know, almost like a Facebook Migration Service, to evacuate to pull the ripcord but of course you got any other questions or comments about this, about this episode or anything we’ve talked about? Head on over to the slack group.
Again, that’s Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers.
And wherever it is that you watch or listen to the show.
If there’s a platform you prefer to have that except Facebook, go to Trust insights.ai slash ti podcast.
Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you soon.
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