Audio version 7 mins. Enthusiastic swearing. Listen on Spotify.
5 Reasons Why Facebook Can Get In The Bin
How do you like it when corporate AI decides to take your money, and no human will step in to override the steal? That’s what Facebook did to me last week.
This sheer robots-have-taken-over unaccountability is a major risk issue for your business now.
It wasn’t part of their news blockade, though it happened the same day.
Facebook is a clear and present risk to your business. I’m not going to write about Facebook being evil, because everyone knows that. Lots of people have extended that idea into an entire movie.
This is more of a user’s perspective, both as a viewer and as an advertiser. On both counts, it can just get in the bin. Why?
1. Facebook Is A Risk To Your Business
If your business relies on Facebook for customer leads, understand that they can just kill your business overnight with no right to appeal.
It presents risks you haven’t considered, if you’re used to the old-school privilege of contacting businesses when they’ve taken your money in bad faith.
Here’s how they took mine.
I’ve been running a digital campaign to promote my book. That involves producing a bunch of videos, then putting them out on Facebook to see which gets more response.
You analyse the sort of people who watch them all the way to the end. Then you find more of those people. Rinse and repeat.
(I’m not literally doing this, this is a task for digital specialists, never try to do it yourself).
People engaging with the video, through views and comments, drives the price per view down, as the algorithm views it as quality material.
You refine it on smaller audiences, until you have the data to roll out the long-term campaign.
It’s like calibrating a telescopic sight, and it takes about six weeks.
I’d just got to that point on Wednesday, ready to hit ‘go’ on the main campaign, when Facebook shut me down. Not just a specific ad, but the whole account. Permanently.
They have a million rules about ad approval, but these ads had already been running approved for a month.
These videos are, in case you haven’t seen them, a middle-aged white guy talking about a business book, and sometimes about ibises. Not exactly the Proud Boys planning to seize the Capitol.
And before you ask, these were clean versions with any swearing edited out.
We appealed, and a got a ‘computer says no, you’re shut down permanently’ email, with no explanation.
Other than accusing me of ‘deceptive or misleading practices’.
The money I’ve spent so far hasn’t actually brought me any benefit, it’s just an investment in the future campaign.
So they’ve effectively let me spend a four-figure amount testing some ads, then snuffed out my account permanently because their AI decided it didn’t like THOSE SAME ADS.
It’s not just the money I paid Facebook that gets burned, and the time I wasted creating the videos. It’s that I’ve now lost nearly two months of a six-month campaign and that will punish my book sales.
2. They’re Absolutely Unaccountable
We’ve entered the era where the robots are in control.
If the AI system shuts you down, you can’t ask to speak to someone further up the line. Just an auto-email and it’s game over.
Is that a risk you want hanging over your whole business?
It’s the kind of risk management you see in businesses that rely 100% on export trade with China. Now they’re acting all shocked, because they had planned on eternal good relations with a powerful Communist government.
Who could have seen that coming?
I’m sure if I was a major bank or car company, I’d get personal help from someone inside Facebook Australia’s secret bunker.
SMEs can just talk to the robot.
Irony alert: when an Apple iOS update blocked Facebook’s tracking tentacles last December, Facebook launched a PR blitz on the theme Speaking Up For Small Businesses. Like only they were defending us against the ravages of Apple.
3. They Are Insufferably Patronising
This is the email where they broke the news that my ad account was shut down permanently:
“We appreciate your enthusiasm in using our Facebook for advertising your products and we want to share the same level of enthusiasm by maintaining the security and quality of our platform. The decision made was firm and irreversible and we still wish you more success to your business. I wish that there’s a better way of saying this to you. I hope that I was able to bring clarity on this matter and I personally want to thank you for your time and effort in contacting us today.”
When you’re stressed and angry, as all people getting this email will be, you are not in the mood for perky empathy written by a machine.
Or the ‘we’re both on the same team with our enthusiasm for quality’ bullshit.
4. It’s User Experience Is A Mess
Facebook, particularly the desktop version, is a software version of the house that’s been owned by the same builder for 30 years. A maze of mismatched extensions made out of spares from other projects.
A shonky eBay copy here, a poor-man’s YouTube there. Is there room for a copy of Instagram’s copy of Snapchat? Sure, tack it on at the top.
It tries to be everything to everybody. And when you try to do that, your product reeks of compromise and committee decisions.
The back end for businesses is even worse, a shifting hellscape of changing identities. Are you a ‘person’, an ‘account’, a ‘business’, a ‘page’, a ‘partner’ or all those things?
I’m pretty sure not even Facebook staff understand the connections and rules between all these. It feels beyond all human control.
No wonder they took out half the non-media pages in Australia when they hit the ‘kill all media’ switch.
5. Facebook Is Old, And It Makes You Old
You know it’s true. Anyone young bailed out years ago, leaving Facebook to churn out ‘remember the old days’ nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a really bad habit for business people. We’re out of space and I wrote a whole story on that, check it out here: A Warm, Cosy Habit That’s Holding You Back.
Now to check out alternative promotional channels for the book, oh look there’s only one other and it’s also an unregulated global monopoly.
Wish me luck.
PS Point 6 their own-brand emojis are an affront to all that is good about design, just had to get that off my chest.
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