Ever since my iPhone started tracking how much time I spent by looking at the screen and reporting my total “screen time”, I’ve become awkwardly self-aware of how much time I could have left in the day working on things I actually cared about. And even with that knowledge, I feel like I spent far too many hours dealing with Facebook this week.
The issues ranged from managing social media ads (full disclosure: for a client, not for me), to reviewing and updating non-performing posts. There were even a few attempts to connect with people who interacted with our pages. The highlight was a job applicant sending a message on chat, saying “screw you”. Needless to say, he (or she) did not get selected for the interview.
Online marketing is such a fun place.
Revealed: What Facebook is collecting about you
The question I ask myself is this: how come are we collectively submitting to Facebook’s every whim? Last I checked they didn’t pay me – it’s quite the opposite actually. They make money off my data – and expect me to continue to fund Mark Zuckerbergs vacation fund.
If you’re curious how much is actually tracked about you, have a look in your Privacy settings. The proof is hidden deep in the settings, so bear with me. From Privacy Settings, scroll to “Your Facebook Information, and click on “Your Off-Facebook Activity”. Last but not least, you want to click on “Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity”. This link should take you straight there. For added effect, you might to re-enter your password. Take a minute exploring the list to see who has been sending data about you to Facebook. You’ve likely agreed to this by blindly accepting cookies and privacy statements of those sites.
I wasn’t happy about the laundry list I found and the websites reporting data back to Facebook about what I do there. Near the top of the list, to my surprise, was my own training site, libertytrainingacademy.com. We once dabbled in a few online ads, and I guess we never removed the tracking codes when we gave up paid advertising altogether. The tracking codes are gone now. There’s no need for Facebook to be collecting data about my clients, as it serves no purpose to my clients (or me, for that matter).
What happens with the data
So what happens with everything Facebook collects about you (and your clients)? We originally installed the tracking code, a Facebook Pixel, in order to collect statistics and make our site and ads better. I practice what I preach, and don’t advertise on Facebook anymore, at all. Instead, we have shifted to relying on organic reach only, following my growth hacking system. Social media is a long play and should be about brand awareness, and sharing stories, not drumming up some quick sales. I’m done taking advice from the so-called gurus on the internet who I’ve never met and have no verifiable results. Long story short, what I propose is to uncover your unique story as an entrepreneur. Figure out your why and talk about it all the time. Use your story to find your unique angle and create meaningful conversations and real connections. In my course, I show you how.
Back to Facebook, and something that happened this summer. Under normal circumstances, I travel a lot. I’m usually going somewhere at least once a month. But then Covid19 happened. As the virus is potentially lethal and is still surrounded by a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions (as it’s brand new), I’ve taken the cautious approach and haven’t been anywhere since March 2020. To prevent going stir crazy I bought myself a new motorcycle later that summer. After over a decade on my first bike, it was time for a serious upgrade. And with that purchase, came an invitation to join the dealer’s Facebook group. Owning a Harley, apparently, is a bit of a social thing as well, even virtually in Covid times.
What happened next, is where it gets interesting. In the days and weeks following my purchase, my Facebook ads changed to display motorcycle accessories, clothing and other related products and services. By combining data from both my on- and off- Facebook activity, in part provided by Harley’s own groups and websites, Facebook had constructed a profile about me, allowing third party advertisers to target me with advertisements related to my activity and interests.
Facebook had constructed a profile about me, allowing third party advertisers to target me with advertisements related to my activity and interests.
Feeding the competition
Now does Harley not sell motor clothes and accessories themselves? Of course, they do. Arguably, the biggest money-pit in owning a Harley is not the motorcycle itself, it’s everything else you can buy with Harley-Dadidson logos on it. The real question is whether using the data collected by my activity, is legitimately used by their smalltime competitors to target advertisements.
The more data we feed into the Facebook marketing engine, the more accurately your competitors will be able to target their advertisements to go after your customer base. While I believe in abundance and subscribe to the idea that there’s in principle enough business to go around for everyone, the idea of providing competing businesses with my customer’s data isn’t ideal. Or in alignment with privacy legislation, no matter how much fine print you write around the indirect data feeds and artificial intelligence applied. Just saying.
Stop the madness
Entrepreneurs – ask yourself: are you in charge of your own brand and platform, or continuing to play in somebody else’s sandbox?
Stop focusing on what doesn’t work. If you must advertise on Facebook – do so. Even though I don’t recommend it for most entrepreneurs, it does work, eventually. Provided your pockets are deep enough and you know what you’re doing. But don’t build your entire platform in a place where you’re not in charge. What if your ads (assuming you’ve had some luck in getting positive results) stop working tomorrow. Alghoritms change and this happens to business owners all the time, for a variety of reasons. What would you do next?
Let’s make Facebook (and any other platform for that matter) no more than one strategy in your online marketing plan. Stop putting all your eggs in Mark’s basket.
Stop wasting money on stuff that doesn’t work. Take the fast track to structurally improve your online presence and develop the essential skills to turn your personal brand into your own legend. Thousands of entrepreneurs and business owners are using something that’s working very well right now for anyone looking to add a little “magic” to their branding and marketing message. But don’t worry, this is not another get-rich-quick-scheme. Overnight results don’t exist. But if you’re willing to do a little work… click here to read more about my social media course on how to reverse the social media flow, and set things up the right way.
Wilko van de Kamp Author | Artist | Advisor
Hi, I’m Wilko van de Kamp, creator of Liberty Training Academy and author of the Freedom Project book series. For more than 15 years, I have helped people and their companies achieve their own results beyond their goals. I work with authors, coaches and experts to build their brand to become a #1 industry influencer and increase their impact on the communities they serve. We focus on every aspect of personal brand building through technology and storytelling, with a relentless focus on accelerating the achievement of their personal, professional and financial goals. And I would love to do the same for you! To get started, you can preview any of my courses free of charge.