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You may have heard about #StopHateForProfit – a social media ad boycott that intends to urge Facebook to evenly apply hate speech standards and improve marking misinformation and false news on the platform.

Several large national companies have joined in. The question is – should your small business? And the bigger question – what happens when your company’s values can start to impact the bottom line? JoyGenea and Michelle discuss this and so much more in this episode of “If These Heels Could Talk.”

TRANSCRIPT

J:  Hi I’m JoyGenea with Solutions by JoyGenea.

M:  And I’m Michelle with BadCat Digital.

J:  And this is If These Heels Could Talk and today we were just discussing options because these days it does seem like there are a variety of great things we could talk about.

M:  There are a lot of things to talk about.

J: Well we really thought would be a definite conversation for small businesses and something that is in important for all of us in business to be talking about which is the Facebook Ad boycott.

M:  Yes.

J: Right away I was like well I’m so tiny and will Facebook even notice and how does this affect us persay and right away Michelle’s like yeah but you gotta ask why?  And how this started.

M:  Yeah.

J:  So help us out.

M:  So the ad boycott started because – and it’s on multiple ad platforms as well.  So it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and in some cases LinkedIn and it is a boycott that is named #StopHateForProfit. That’s the call to action.  Stop hate for profit.  And it’s intended to force the question for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook executives about being more consistent with identifying misleading information, false news stories, and content that incites violence and hate speech on their platform so on Facebook, Instagram, and on Twitter specifically, a number of large national brands have joined this boycott for the month of July.  Some have committed to longer.  I mean brands like Pepsi and Coca Cola.  Brands like REI and North Face.  Huge, huge, recognizable brands and it’s shifting the conversation because Mark Zuckerberg for the first time said yes we’ll start identifying content and I don’t know if anybody’s seen that.  I have seen it in my feed.

J:  I haven’t noticed it yet.

M:  There are also committing to these platforms anyway are starting to commit to apply those filters without regard for the importance of the account that is labeling them.  So on Twitter specifically and famously President Trump loves Twitter and Twitter has actually started to identify some things and one of the things that happened last month or so I think (time is so weird right now) –

J:  It was last month –

M:  Is that another account was created to tweet exactly the same content that President Trump has Tweeted and see how long it was before that account was shut down and it was less than 36 hours.

J:  Wow.

M:  The same content in the same order at the same time.  So what would happen was President Trump would tweet and then this account would tweet the exact same thing.  Word for word. Character for character.  Everything the same.  And less than 30 hours later that account was shut down.  They got a couple of warnings and then they were shut down.  So the question becomes, is a person or a business’s relative importance larger than what their posting and its potential consequences and so that’s part of this boycott and regardless of what people think about why and if this is a thing or not.  Our focus of our conversation today isn’t the validity of stop hate for profit or whether or not this is violating free speech.  Frankly, that’s something that is higher than my pay grade.  I don’t know about yours.

J:  Oh, I’m not even stepping in that puddle.

M:  And it’s very personal and it has to do with how people interrupt the constitution and all kinds of things.  There are legal ramifications.  Political ramifications. Like whatever. There is a ton of really important stuff that’s bigger than the word ‘whatever’ but that’s the word I’m using cuz my question is-

J:  Yes.  What’s your question?

M: Do we advise our clients to join?

J:  I think that is a great question and I think that really depends on how they feel about the reason people are boycotting.

M:  So I actually I agree with you on some level in terms of whether I bring up the conversation or not but from a business perspective – no feelings, no politics.  Numbers aside.  If I’m a small business and I have a $1000 a month to advertise and I split that between (well, let’s make it realistic and say $5000 a month to advertise).

J:  Good job. Yeah, I was gonna say.

M:  And I split that between a radio ad, some you know search ads, and Facebook and Instagram ads.  Can I afford to join a boycott?  Is that? Is shutting down that advertising channel going to hurt me or is it going to help me to be a part of a movement that am I going to get more play off the movement than I would off the ads. 

J:  So how do you calculate that?  That’s my greater question. As you’re having conversations with clients cuz I have had a couple of clients ask me. Also, I don’t do their Facebooks ads.  That’s not my specialty by any means.  But they’re doing their own and one of them in particular feels really passionate about this.  I said, well that answered your question.  I’m like, your organization’s already passionate.  This is part of the subject matter. I’m like then that answers it.  And the greater question I pose to this person was just are there other avenues that you could also be pursuing for similar dollars that might benefit you more that you have just not explored.  This just became easy and focused and you just got in your own marketing rut.

M:  Seeing it from a business perspective as well, I also want to acknowledge that a lot of these brands took a big hit in Q1 of 2020 as most businesses did and they’re looking for ways to save money.  So would it be beneficial on spreadsheet of money – just money – if as a brand… Let’s say I’m Coca-Cola and it is imperative that my brand stay out in front of consumers consistently and this not because I think people haven’t heard of Coca-Cola.  Like let’s be real.  But this is because I want people to want a Coca-Cola when they go to the store and they are looking at something to buy.  I want them to pick the thing and not see an ad for say something else that maybe somebody else makes, like some sort of new fancy water.  That somebody else makes.  And think huh I want to give that a try and buy that instead.  And it might seem silly that Coca-Cola cares about that $1.79 that you paid but it happens at a volume that they absolutely care.  They’re gonna save, I think the number that I saw and I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong.  It’s been different in different news sources.  Something around-

J: That’s it, it’s just an estimate.

M:  Yeah.  It’s something around 20 million dollars a month in social media advertising that they’re going to save.  And by spearheading this movement they’ve actually got more play.

J:  Of course.  Because they are who we talk about when we start to talk about this movement. 

M: So for national brands that join this play; large national brands that are newsworthy that are a part of this.  It’s better for them fiscally to join than not because they’re getting all of the advertising for free.  For my company.  For your company.  For our clients’ companies who are not nationally known consumer brands by and large, is that smart still?

J:  I would say as small as we are probably not.  And that’s what you have to calculate out.  And it is probably time that you look at some of these numbers anyways and review them because we are in that middle of Covid experience for business

M:  Yes.  We hope we are in the middle.  Feels like it’s starting over again.

J:  No, we’re not at the beginning.  The beginning was that thing where we’re like what are we doing what are we doing.  We’re out of that.  Now we’re like we don’t know what we’re doing and we’re kind of growing comfortable to this and we don’t know when this is going to end so fine have another martini.  Like we’re in that phase.  That’s part of what came to mind for me as we started to talk about this.  Was the fact that this is potentially disruptive.

M:  Absolutely.

J:  And not just in Facebook and not just as social media.  Its disruptive to marketing.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Potentially.  Because that means not only will they be saving that money but they might possibly come out of the month saying maybe we’re not really getting what we thought we were.

M:  Yeah. 

J:  Maybe we do need to look at other-

M:  Avenues.

J:  Other avenues.  Other possibilities.  Other ways to reach our target demographic.  That we just you know virtual reality advertising. More streaming.

M:  Streaming services.  Streaming radio.  Podcasts.  Not making a bid to sell anything.  We’re very happy with our non-profit, non-sponsors.

J:  Oh, but sponsors feel free call us.  We will have conversations.

M:  I think we might have to have a whole conversation about that one. 

J:  You know, I’ve always been huge endorser of Ziploc.  I keep waiting for them to call.

M:  They are pretty cool.

J:  See.

M:  Well the thing is though that investors are thinking like JoyGenea is thinking.  They’re thinking like you’re thinking.  So they’re thinking this is going to disrupt this and these brand advertisers aren’t going to necessarily come back. So as an overall percentage of Facebook ad revenue, the brands represent large national brands represent less than 10% of their ad revenue.

J:  That is so wow.

M:  Yes.  The vast majority of their ad revenue is main street not wall street.  So the vast majority of Facebook and Instagram ad revenue is us.

J:  It’s us.

M:  So if you ask me would a single small business leaving Facebook ads make a difference, no.  But if you ask me would a mass exodus of a small business leaving Facebook and Instagram make a difference absolutely. So now does that add something to the conversation.

J:  It kind of does.  When you start to talk to other people and other opportunities that might be available particularly for small medium sized businesses.  Mmmmmm.

M:  It’s interesting to know.  If you’re thinking about like this concept of stop hate for profit and the Facebook ad boycott I think the thing that is the biggest thing for me is what are your brand’s values and how does your brand live those values?  And are you willing to take the risk that you will lose sales because of you standing up for your brands values?   And this is a question that nobody can answer for anybody else.  And that we shouldn’t in any way and don’t in any way judge other people’s answers for because that’s part of this.  Part of this is this, like I mean because now it’s a bandwagon, right and everybody wants to jump on but there’s a diminishing return as more and more people jump on the bandwagon because you’re not standing out for doing it.  So you don’t get the benefit of –

J:  The free advertising.

M:  The free advertising because the free advertising next week we’ll be on to something else.  You know.

J:  The news cycle is short here people.

M:  Yeah.  Facebook, Google, Apple and I think Twitter are testifying in front of congress next week.  That’s going to be the news.

J:  Yeah.

M:  Next week.  It’s not going to be this.  They’re testifying about monopolies.  Legislation around breaking up monopolies. That will be an interesting one and maybe that’s what we’ll talk about next week.

J:  So disruption is.  I think disruption is inevitable in a lot of areas.

M:  I think so too.

J:  And I don’t know what’s going to disrupt this.  Like one thing that is kind of interesting that this has brought out for me is what is going to disrupt this.  Like I watch this disrupt marketing.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Immensely.  When social media platforms came out.

M:  It changed.

J: And everybody said these are not going to do anything and I went oh my lord like this is disruptive.  Like I saw it and I just went this is going to be.  I had no idea it would be this big but I knew it was going to be big.  Real fast.  And I’m like wow.  No, this is disruptive and to watch newspapers and radio like get socked down to these miniscule levels.

M:  Miniscule line items in people’s marketing budgets.  It used to dominate people’s marketing budgets and now they’re lower and lower and lower.

J:  Radio is making a little bit of comeback.

M: Radio’s doing really well and radio including streaming radio.

J:  Yes.

M:  Is really doing very well but print is really, really struggling.  And I think it will be for quite awhile.

J:  And even books like found a way to rebound when they were disrupted.

M:  Yup.

J:  Like they’ve plateaued out and they’ve kind of found their place and their people.  It will be interesting to see us just in life what does disrupts Facebook and these social media conglomerates. 

M:  Well and I think that part of it is there all starting to want to create their own little microcosm of the internet.  We were talking about your Roku and how you can’t get Facebook tv.

J:  There is no Facebook tv. 

M: Well Facebook Watch.  It’s called Facebook Watch.

J: Right. 

M:  But you can’t get it on your Roku. There is no app for it.

J: Which is really annoying because now I need to sit and watch my little programs that I like on there with my ipad.

M:  On your ipad.  Yeah. 

J: Seriously.  But I have my fifty something tv over here.

M:  But if you have a different way to stream from your ipad to your tv you can watch it on your tv.

J: Which I did in the end of course just project it over there but I was still annoyed.  I’m like yeah but I just want.

M:  Because we’re used to all of these different systems working together.  So the disruption of apps was that there were software programs, applications (that’s what apps means so for those who are you know under twenty and don’t remember a world where there wasn’t an app for that). 

J:  There were softwares for that. 

M:  So these software programs and we’re used to them being relatively universal.  In reality they’re not.  In reality every app that’s available on Apple and Android devices is actually two different pieces of software and in fact when you’re listening to a podcast like this one, we have to develop the podcast and then submit for multiple platforms.  We don’t develop a podcast and submit it in one place and then it disseminates to 6 other platforms.  We have to sign up for those platforms and make sure that the podcast fits the rules for all of those platforms.  It’s added a lot of complexity to get everything to link together.  The other place that we see this in marketing is of course multiple systems in data and everybody wants all of this information on everything but the common tools that you use to gather data online are absent of personal and private information because it’s illegal and then the things that you used to sell to people like client relationship management software, crm software, is based on the individual.  So I can’t tie in a lead form that was filled out on my website to an actual person in this without some serious work and that work is happening and it’s being done and there are solutions that are being developed with SQL databases and all kinds of fun things that I geek out about and everybody else’s eyes glaze over so I’m gonna stop talking about them now.  But point is we want everything in this world to work so seamlessly and quickly.

J: Well, we’re being trained to do that.

M:  Yes.

J:  Like I just feel like my whole life things have just continuously gone into this narrowing and narrowing aspect of like it all just goes together.

M:  And then two weeks ago Apple comes out with the news that the latest version of Safari won’t support google analytics. Now what do we do?

J:  Disruption.

M: Disruption.  So, as we move forward and we think about how is Covid going to disrupt marketing, because that’s really what we’re talking about.

J: That is.

M: This Facebook ad boycott is just one little piece.  One little part of actual circumstantial events disrupting the marketing world.   Because Covid is a huge shift and if you haven’t moved your marketing plans that’s a big problem.

J:  And this is a definite hint to that.  Do we for see some companies possibly expanding this boycott.  Like this might become longer than a month.  They might find this is…

M:  I think some will but I also think that I want to be really real about what I think that this is because I don’t – I think that the idea of stop hate for profit is a fantastic idea but I also have a fairly jaded view of large businesses and brands and how they’re only ever gonna do anything that’s good for thir brand and saves them money.  So they’re gonna take all of this out of it and they’re gonna do what’s good for the brand and what saves them money.  So if we as small businesses think like that, then it becomes a question of – it becomes not a question of is Coca-Cola gonna start advertising, probably not because they’ve been in the news forever but Coca-Cola is the parent company to 1500 brands.

J:  Yes, they are.

M:  So do we really expect all of them to not advertise?  Do we really expect brand new product launches to not come out with ads on Facebook just because they’re owned by the Coca-Cola beverage company?  I’m taking it with a grain of salt.  You can call it maybe jaded conspiracy theories or you could call it –

J: I don’t know it’s partially just business. 

M:  But part of it is just business and at the end of the day….

J:  And we don’t, I’ll be honest, I don’t want to see any of those businesses slowing down or cutting back in their revenue considering the year we have had and needing to layoff any more people.

M:  Right.  I don’t either and part of that is saving money on marketing costs so that they can keep their operations moving at the same speed.  So from a small business perspective I would say value what your brand values.  If you don’t have them written down, write them down and then evaluate and then say is this a decision that I want to make for my brand’s values, understanding that there might be consequences to it.

J:  That’s good advice.

M: Yeah. 

J:  I like that.  So are we going to be cutting back on our Facebook advertising for If These Heels Could Talk?  Have we had any Facebook advertising? 

M:  We have had some Facebook advertising for If These Heels Could Talk but I made that decision solo.  To try it and see if we you know from that perspective.

J:  I just want to be transparent. 

M:  I think that you and I should have that conversation and make that decision together because this is our brand together.  I can tell you that from BadCat’s perspective,

J:  Yes.

M:  We have stopped our advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July.  So, we have joined stop hate for profit as BadCat.  We have let clients know what was happening so that they can decide what to do but at this point have not had any takers.

J:  Got it.

M:  So.

J:  They’re still assessing it. 

M:  They’re assessing it.  They’re looking at it.  They’re deciding what they want to do but we wanted to just let people know what was going on so that they could make a decision.  And if they, like I said earlier, there’s no judgement for people’s decision.  I mean at the end of the day if you can’t continue as a brand then you can’t employ people.  You can’t help people pay their rent.  BadCat supports…

J:  A small group of people.

M: 10 families.  And I take that very, very, very seriously

J:  And those 10 people appreciate and love their jobs.  I know this they love their jobs.  They love what they do.

M:  I’m glad that they do but that’s the thing, like I make a decision like this going back to our brand values and one of our brand values is allyship.  So that’s where we’re at.  And so going back to our values, that’s what the decision is.  Every brand has different set of values.  Every brand has different things that it needs to do and things that are important.  This happened to be a clear cut for me because it was keeping –

J:  This is totally in alignment with BadCat’s values.

M:  It was an alignment with BadCat’s value but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in alignment with every business’s values.

J: Right.

M:  And it also you know have to consider the hierchy of need when you are considering your values.  It’s a privilege.  It’s a privilege to be in business at all right now.

J: It is.

M:  It is a privilege to be able to make a decision like that without necessarily considering that that could cost us XYZ down the road.  That is a massive privilege and I would never take that for granted.

J: That’s a really good place for us to leave people to think about.  That’s a really, really good point.

M:  Well thank you.

J:  Thank for joining us today on If These Heels Could Talk. We hope you have gained some insight.  Enjoyed our conversation.  Got a little motivated and possibly learned a thing or two.

M:  And congratulations – you made through 6 months of 2020!