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The Facebook Detox: Decentralizing Content

Jonathan Jayasinghe

22 August 2020

As July rolls into its third week, so does the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League’s #StopHateForProfit campaign. The campaign, backed by some of the world’s biggest brands, is an opportunity for our industry and the social landscape in general to evolve for the better, placing an emphasis on values and social justice.

The Facebook ad detox is meant to be temporary, but it marks a move towards platform decentralization, with the opportunity for brands to shift their resources to test other platforms, formats, and ways of reaching their existing – and new — audiences.

As an agency whose clients see themselves as leaders, we constantly push ourselves and our partners to remain at the forefront of the rapidly shifting landscape of social media and influence. We have clients whose brands are themselves participating in the #StopHateForProfit campaign currently and we’ve challenged ourselves to think beyond the IG-driven influencer paradigm and champion unexpected and emerging platforms. Read on for some of the learnings that we’ve gained along the way:

As platforms like TikTok move from the ‘emerging’ category into the mainstream with all the threats that come with it -, brands can trial creative and highly visual formats to engage with audiences across all niches. With nuanced pools of different audiences, with everyone from Gen Z to Gen X making this one of their go-to apps, brands who do well on TikTok can now be amongst the first early adopters to the platform and take advantage of its fresh influencers and emerging creators.

If Facebook and Instagram are the ‘macro celebrity influencers’, then smaller, niche platforms are the ‘micro influencers’. There are hundreds of apps that lack the scale of Facebook; instead, they are keenly adept at catering to every niche and interest of myriad audiences and can offer highly engaged communities. From Deviantart, a platform for artists and enthusiasts with 45 million users each month; GoodReads for book lovers; ReverbNation for musicians; to Ravelry, a social media site for people who like knitting, weaving and crocheting, these lesser-known communities are specific and hyper-targeted. This means they can facilitate content that’s far more relevant and resonates more with their intended audiences. Many of these platforms won’t warrant media spend on the same level as Facebook, but use this detox to explore and discover the other communities your audience belongs to.

Same destination, different route.

Recently, brands have been using their digital content in more traditional spaces like TV and offline media. Particularly during lockdown, digital influencers’ production skills have become highly sought-after as crews weren’t an option. Many brands took advantage of this, leaning on influencers to produce surprisingly polished TV ads. These brands understand that influencers are more than mouthpieces — they can be production arms unto themselves. The FB/IG pause can thus be a time for brands to shift their scheduled digital content into other spaces to fully utilize the influencer expertise and relationships they already have, bringing their partners deeper into their enterprise.

Influencer voices have long operated mainly on social media platforms and can be a vehicle to reach the same audiences Facebook’s paid ads deliver. But as we begin to shift how we market and advertise online, not just in the wake of the #StopHateforProfit campaign but in the changed media landscape, there is an opportunity to bring these voices into other areas of marketing to reach audiences in new and innovative ways.

From using influencers in TV ads, as experts in written content, as voice artists for radio ads or using their content in print and OOH formats, influencer partnerships are only limited to the imagination of the marketer. Whatever the route to your audience, these creators will always continue to have their sphere of influence across social media, so by bringing them into alternative mainstream media channels, the impact on their audiences – and therefore the brand exposure they can offer – will only grow further.

The reality is Facebook and Instagram aren’t going anywhere; the #StopHateForProfit campaign raises awareness of the issues we face as a digital and tangible society. Although reports suggest the financial impact on Facebook will be minimal, the action of the boycott itself will likely provoke something far more impactful in the long run – the move away from centralized content creation.

Exploring new routes, platforms, and ways of collaborating to reach audiences is the beginning of the demonopolization of Facebook’s dominance. It’s clearer now than ever before that how we interact with brands and consume their content is constantly changing and with the influx of content that’s swept through the landscape since quarantine orders hit, brands have to be agile to connect to their audiences, wherever they may be. To find out more about how we’re helping our partners and thinking through platform decentralization and the next normal of content and influence, drop us a line and join our Creative Juices session next week.

With love,
Jonathan