Why Facebook Is a Gold Mine for Marketing and Scary for Consumers

As a marketeer and a consumer, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Facebook is where I keep in touch with friends from all over the world. I follow a few of my favorite artists and musicians, but I’m way past the enthusiastic stage for meeting strangers online.

The Dark Side Of Facebook

My job as a VP Marketing has exposed “the dark side” of Facebook. On Facebook, the masses are voluntarily giving up their privacy by telling the world what they like. Facebook knows your hobbies (“where you spend your spare money”), everything you like, when you use Facebook and much more.

I go over my Facebook privacy settings a few times a year — but I’m in the minority. I doubt many of my less technical peers even know how to limit their exposure on Facebook.

I Knew Something Was Up When..

A few years ago, I started seeing ads for concerts on Facebook. Of all the types of ads that I could possibly see, music ads bother me the least. Much better than medicine or a bad habit! I was looking up concerts on Google and seeing ads on Facebook. Somehow, Facebook knew what I was doing outside of Facebook. (It is called the “Facebook Pixel” in technical language.)

When I search for something on Amazon, I see ads of specific products that I looked up — on Facebook (and everywhere else)

Uploading Spreadsheets to Facebook

When I started placing Facebook ads, I felt a sense of terror — at the power I had as a marketeer, and how other marketeers were stalking me as a consumer.

Like most Facebook users, I’ve joined a few groups connected to hobbies. Harmless, right? As an advertiser on Facebook, I can target people who have joined groups (say, related to music, stores, clothes..).

The ultimate step to targeting people on Facebook is the ability to export a spreadsheet from Salesforce, or any customer database and upload it to Facebook. Facebook tries to match the spreadsheet with existing users. The more info you have in your spreadsheet, the better the odds that Facebook will locate them. The tricky part is the email — for B2B, most people add their work email and they use their private email address on Facebook. You can resolve this by paying people to hunt down email addresses via obscure public search engines.

Now that is power! Uploading a spreadsheet of “almost-customers” to Facebook, and the site “finds” 20-30% of them. This is the holy grail of marketing — being able to target specific people.

I love it and hate it. The more I dive into social media marketing, the less I am active on social media. I’m sure I am not alone.

About the Author
Kenny Sahr is a startup marketing executive. His first startup, founded in 1996, was featured in Time Magazine and on 60 Minutes. Kenny moved to Israel from Miami, Florida. In his spare time, he is an avid music collector and traveler.
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