October 29, 2021 | Maz Tannir

Should Your Ag Brand Leave Facebook?

For the last few years, it seems to be a constant point of conversation: should my business leave Facebook? (Are we supposed to call it Meta now?)  Why do we have a business page, anyways?

Plagued with issues surrounding the spread of fake news, data concerns, and outages, more and more brands are reconsidering their use of Facebook as a marketing channel. 

Should you? The answer is… maybe. 

4 Reasons You May Be Considering Leaving Facebook

The Outage

On October 4, 2021, Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp went down. It wasn’t the first time, and it’s unlikely to be the last, but the hours-long outage emphasized the heavy reliance that we have on the platforms – both as individuals and as businesses. 

While your brand may not have experienced any direct setbacks from the outage, it’s a reminder that social media platforms are borrowed land. At any moment, all the work, time, and money you put there could disappear. If anything, it was a reminder to all of us that we need to reevaluate how much energy we put there – and all that we could lose.

Slower Growth, Lower Reach

Since around 2012, the Facebook algorithm has slowly made it more and more difficult for business pages to grow audiences, get impressions, and earn engagements. It’s hard to remember a time when business page admins were disappointed to learn they were only reaching about 16% of their audience organically (2012), especially now when the average organic reach of a post is 5.2%. 

Ongoing Privacy Concerns

A recent Forbes article outlined how Facebook (as well as Instagram and Whatsapp) continues to collect data without the express permission of iPhone users in particular. Keep in mind that the issue isn’t necessarily that the data has been collected. It’s that its collection is not being appropriately disclosed to individuals on Facebook. 

This may or may not matter to your company, and ultimately depends on how much you value the privacy of your audience. But we know for sure that it matters to farmers.

Misaligned Values

In mid-2020, the #StopHateForProfit campaign urged advertisers to pull their Facebook budgets in protest of ongoing issues with hate speech, racism and the rampant spread of misinformation. Approximately 1000 brands announced they would be boycotting Facebook advertising, pulling their budgets and placing them on other platforms.  Some did this for only the month of July, while others continued through the end of the year, and others never returned. 

However, the brands which participated, extended, and even made permanent their boycotts are large multinational corporations with massive advertising budgets. They represent a relatively small percentage of Facebook’s overall ad revenue at around 16%. Those who rely most heavily on Facebook are small businesses, given the relative affordability of their ad platform.

We’ve mentioned ad nauseam how important values alignment is when it comes to your brand and your customers. This is another area where you’ll need to understand whether it’s important to your customers that you not support companies like Facebook with your ad dollars. It would be easy to assume that farmers are not overly concerned with the #StopHateForProfit campaign – but that would also be a mistake. There’s no one right answer to what farmers value, and it will depend on your brand’s specific customer persona. 

Thinking about leaving? Consider your budget, your desired outcomes, and your ROI.

How to Decide Whether to Stay or Go

It’s impossible for us to make a blanket statement over whether or not your ag brand, in particular, should leave Facebook. To decide if you’ll remove Facebook from your strategic plans, consider the following:

  • Will your budget be effective on other digital advertising platforms?

Evaluate the results you’re getting from Facebook – whether organic or paid. Are you earning likes and comments? Do your posts or ads drive the desired traffic or action? Can you earn the same results if you move that budget to another digital advertising platform?

Whether we like it or not, Facebook and Instagram remain among the most affordable forms of social media advertising (though Twitter does cost less per click). If your audience is on Facebook and they’re taking the desired actions that help you meet your goals, moving to another platform might hurt your efforts in the short-term.

  • Do your marketing plans include converting social audiences into traffic or leads? 

It’s definitely never a good idea to put all your eggs into Mark Zuckerberg’s basket. However, if you have done that so far, you can’t leave Facebook until you’ve figured out how to ensure your established audience will stay with you. A strong lead generation strategy can help move your audience from social media to your own lists. 

  • Are your results worth the effort you’re expending? 

Managing a Facebook business page or advertising campaign takes time and effort. Is the return worth the investment? Are you trying to keep up with all of the platforms, when focusing your effort on or two would likely offer better returns? 

The average organic reach of branded Facebook posts has decreased by 67% since 2012. Click To Tweet

Why We Paused Our Facebook & Instagram Accounts

While planning for 2021 earlier this year, our content team made the decision to stop updating our Facebook and Instagram accounts with content, and to focus our efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter. This was based on an evaluation of the effort and time being poured into the two platforms, and the small return we were seeing in the form of audience growth and engagement. 

We could easily see that our time could be better spent engaging our audience on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as increasing our long-form content efforts on our site. So far, the results tell us we made the right decision. No matter what you decide, consistent evaluation of any decision is the key to success.

Maz Tannir

Maz uses 26+ years of experience to effectively develop, negotiate and tailor media strategies to align with marketing goals. He is actively involved in industry organizations including the IAB (Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce and Programmatic Trading Committee), and AdClub Toronto (Digital Day Committee). You can connect with Maz on LinkedIn.