The dilemma of Facebook

The dilemma of Facebook

The Dilemma of Facebook is a two-part documentary series that has been on SVT Play for a week. It is one of the most interesting contemporary documentaries I have seen in recent years. Why?

The documentary series provides a good overview of how Facebook works. How an algorithm based on our online behavior controls what we see in our news feed. How this is intended to create relevant content for each individual.

In one sense, it sounds fantastic. A personalized news feed automatically customized for me.

If you are a regular user of Facebook, you can assume that Facebook knows more about you than your partner.

The dilemma of Facebook – the problems

To create this personalized feed, Facebook collects an enormous amount of information about you. If you are a regular user of Facebook, you can assume that Facebook knows more about you than your partner.

An imaginary dialogue that humorously symbolizes how much Facebook knows about us.
An imaginary dialogue that humorously symbolizes how much Facebook knows about us.

This well-produced documentary takes its cue from the problems with Facebook. How Facebook’s good intentions have also led to a digital reality of lies, ignorance and genocide. How disinformation has shaken countries like Ukraine, the Philippines and Myanmar. How Barack Obama used Facebook to win the 2008 election and how Donald Trump did the same in 2016. In short: how your personal information can be used by evil forces.

The documentary paints a picture of a company that has failed to take responsibility for its unprecedented success. How today it is a hard-to-control monster, full of opportunities for evil people.

It is hard not to be moved by the documentary.

The dilemma of Facebook – the opportunities

It is the other side of the same coin that is the opportunities in digital marketing. All the data that Facebook collects about you means that your highly customized news feed can also contain highly customized ads.

Facebook is undoubtedly the most cost-effective way today to reach a very niche audience.

Facebook and the sales tunnel

Sales and marketing are often described in terms of different types of tunnels, or rather funnels, that go from wide at one end to narrow at the other.

When I talk about the sales funnel, I usually talk about five different stages:

Unconscious – Problem conscious – Solution conscious – Product conscious – Fully conscious (Köpredo)

Advertising on Facebook fits extremely well into the digital sales funnel. That's why Facebook is so successful. That it has managed to commercialize the knowledge of its more than 2 billion users.
Advertising on Facebook fits extremely well into the digital sales funnel. This is why Facebook is so successful. That it has managed to commercialize the knowledge of its more than 2 billion users.

Depending on where your prospective customer is on the awareness journey, you as a marketer will want to use different channels. If they are problem-conscious, Facebook is superior to everything else.

For several reasons:

1) You can do hypertargeting on Facebook, i.e. extremely targeted ads.

2) You can advertise against look-alikes, i.e. create profile groups based on existing customers.

If you’re launching a new product in a new market where potential customers don’t even know they have a problem that your product can solve, Facebook advertising is extremely effective.

If you’re launching a new product in a new market where potential customers don’t even know they have a problem that your product can solve, Facebook advertising is extremely effective.

The Facebook dilemma is silent

The documentary The Dilemma of Facebook – of course – says very little about this. But this insight is extremely important to have. The sensational growth of users – from 100 million to over 2 billion in ten years – and the creation of the sharpest advertising tools of all are the reason for Facebook’s monstrous success.

This is why the problems with Facebook – how to deal with the abuse of Facebook – are such a difficult problem to solve. Restricting access to users also limits the benefits for advertisers to use Facebook.

I think Facebook’s next ten years will be much more interesting to follow than the last ten years.

Watch the documentary by clicking here:

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