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If Facebook marketing can influence elections, what can it do for your small business?

Have you ever felt like you were just talking about something, and then suddenly you saw a bunch of ads about it? Sure, we all have. It may lead some people to think that companies like Facebook/Instagram, Google, or Amazon are listening to our devices. In reality, they aren’t actually listening (at least we can’t prove they are). Instead, they are actually predicting our behaviors.

Have you stopped to think about how social media companies operate from a business standpoint? Let’s take Facebook as an example, their core business is ads. As a social media giant, they are cranking out 2.5 billion pieces of content and 500+ terabytes of data each day. If you are familiar with server costs, that’s a shit ton of money they are feeding to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Most social media consumers don’t realize that companies like Facebook have tremendous operating cost and they have to generate revenues to ensure you can keep posting pictures of your cats on Instagram (Facebook owns Insta). So, what do they do? They run ads.

What’s really interesting about social media platforms is the abundance of rich data they have access to when compared to more traditional means of advertising. The ironic thing about Facebook’s server costs is that it essentially acts like an arsenal of inventory for them to run their ads. Since every single interaction, post, picture, video, check-in, message, and status update all have to be stored somewhere.

If you already have to pay for the data you are storing, wouldn’t it be tempting to monetize it? Facebook has 1.59 billion daily active users. With massive amounts of consumer data comes insane algorithms designed to connect the dots between our feelings and emotions to actually predict our behaviors.

Just recently, I saw a documentary that mentioned how Target found out a teenage girl was pregnant before her own father did. Much like Facebook, corporate retailers like Target know the importance of data and how it can provide a better customer experience which yields higher profits. Well, in the case for the pregnant teenaged girl, Target had an algorithm that recognized women were pregnant long before they started buying diapers and baby food.

Women nearing the second trimester were loading up on unscented soaps, wash cloths, and vitamins like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Unfortunately for the girl, she happened to make these purchases prior to telling her father she was pregnant. Target recognized the purchasing behavior and decided to send a direct-mailer to her parent’s house advertising baby items. As you can imagine, it caught her father’s eye and it didn’t go over so well for the soon-to-be teen mom.

So, if Target has enough data to accurately predict their customer’s next purchases, how much do you think Facebook knows? Every time you interact on social media, it’s yet another datapoint that gets added to your profile. As a result of this, Facebook has built one of the world’s most advanced ads platform that can actually predict your behaviors. People tend to be creatures of habit and having access to massive amounts of consumer data allows social giants to exploit your behaviors for profits.

It’s no secret that the media despises Facebook for exploiting consumer data for profits, however, it seems as if there are so many other companies doing the same thing but, they tend to fly under the radar. Why is that?

I’m sure we all have heard of Cambridge Analytica at this point. Most people who don’t have marketing backgrounds probably view them as evil too. Could it be possible that Cambridge Analytica was simply using the Facebook platform the way you are supposed to use it? Could it be possible that the media has painted both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica out the be evil when in reality it’s because the media didn’t get their desired Presidential candidate (Hilary Clinton) elected?

It seems everywhere you look there’s a negative headline about Facebook and people love to throw around rumors that the social media giant is promoting fake news. The truth is, the Trump Campaign utilized big data to seek out people on Facebook who at the time didn’t associate themselves as conservative. They were able to create targeted ads to reach folks who may be on the fence in order to convert them to voting for Trump. Despite all of the media forecasts illustrating Hillary Clinton to be the next president, the world was stunned on November 8th, 2016 when she lost the election.

Let’s think about this for a second. Should we trust the media any more than we trust companies like Facebook? It could be argued that the media is the one actually churning out fake news to promote their political propaganda. To be clear, this is not a political post. Instead, this post is to illustrate the power of social media marketing and running targeted ads.

Social media marketing has gotten so advanced that media outlets scrutinized Facebook to the point that they actually removed detailed targeting for political affiliations within the US from their platform.

 It could also be argued that Facebook chose to remove political affiliations because they don’t want the Republican parties utilizing their platform to get a leg up in the upcoming president elections. As a company, they are admittedly liberal and have even been scrutinized for adjusting their newsfeed algorithms to display more liberal content than conservative content, however, that hasn’t been proven.

If Facebook is powerful enough to alter the outcomes of millions of voters, what do you think it could do for your small business? Social media marketing is a massive opportunity for independent business owners yet the majority of SMB’s have never had professional social media marketing services available to them.

No matter what type of business you are, if you sell goods or services, there is likely an opportunity to acquire a ton of new customers using social media platforms.

Here are just some examples of how retail stores could attract new customers on Social Media:

  • Jewelry Store: run targeted ads for folks with an upcoming anniversary, people with an interest in engagement rings, people in a relationship, etc.
  • Automotive Shop: run targeted ads to seek out people who have like competitors pages or checked-in at competitors store like Valvoline Instant Oil Change
  • Boutique: seek out customers who have an interest in Lululemon, Nike Women’s Fitness, Yoga, etc
  • Dog Groomers/Daycare/Pet Food Stores: Target folks who have pets, like PetsMart, etc
  • Children’s Daycare: You can actually targeted people with ads who have children of specific ages

I think you get the point. If your business that doesn’t currently have a monthly ad spend budget, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to grow your business. We encourage all small businesses to start with a paid budget of at least $200 per month for the best results.