Everyone’s on Facebook these days. Everyone. No, I’m not exaggerating. My grandma’s on Facebook. She has no idea how she got on Facebook, but she’s on it. I’m sure my Grandpa one day decided that he’d figure out what this new-fangled ‘Facebooks’ was that everyone was talking about and made them both profiles. Everyone is on Facebook.
Which is kind of funny when you think about it. I mean, I’m on Facebook, but I don’t use it for myself; I use it for other accounts I’m an admin on. I don’t have a feed that Facebook can advertise in because I don’t have likes to populate that feed. I also don’t have friends on Facebook to fill up my feed with baby pictures, grandbaby pictures, and selfies filled with over-exposed cleavage. It makes me wonder how many people that are ‘on’ Facebook are only on it in the same way I am; that is, not actually for their own personal use.
Today, that became even more of a burning question in my mind when Facebook announced that it advertises to a total of 101 million people between the ages of 18 and 34. This is interesting because the US government says that there are only 66 million people in that age range (according to US census data).
To put it more simply: somebody’s lying, and it’s probably not the US Census Bureau. It could be that people are lying about their age online, but I find it hard to believe that someone who’s 35 would lie about being 34 just to mess with analytics data.
So what the fuck? Facebook is supposed to be this advertising god, right? Something that advertisers flock to in an attempt to target people they know they can sell to. A tool that allows such segmented targeting that you can create 50 different campaigns for 50 different people, each one with a different message and overall feel. But how many of those 50 people are actually seeing the message? Who the hell knows anymore.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been in hot water over some faulty analytics data, either. In 2016, it was discovered that Facebook had been falsely inflating video metrics for over two years. That’s right. Facebook had been lying about how many people watch video advertisements for over two years and got away with it. Marketers thought they were doing a great job and sold these services to clients. That means marketers were lying to clients; maybe not on purpose or with any malice, but they were lying nonetheless. When Facebook lies, it makes everybody look stupid.
And now, after almost another year of marketers throwing money at this platform, we’re coming to realize that they’re probably lying about even more analytics data – the number of people we’re reaching on a daily basis.
With everything that’s been happening with social media and ‘fake news’ over the last few years, it’s becoming harder and harder to believe anything we read online. Was there this kind of number-fudging when television first became a viable form of advertising? I’m not 100% sure, but I’m sure that someone lied at some point about how many people their network was reaching.
“But oh, we’re not a media company,” says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. So when people start spreading hate, racism, and anger all over his site, it’s not Facebook’s fault. They’re not a ‘media company’. Since Zuckerberg made his original statement, he’s come out and clarified that maybe he misspoke. Yes, maybe Facebook is a media company, he says, but it’s not a traditional media company.
Are you shitting me, dude? You run a social media company. It’s in your description. You are a media. company. Plain and simple. And when you create a new platform that’s specifically designed for disseminating media programs to your one billion users across the globe, I think you’ve crossed over a threshold.
Sorry. This is turning into more of a rant than a news story. (Goes to categories box and checks ‘Rants’.)
What I’m trying to get at is this:
- Facebook – you’re a media company. Advertisers go to you and spend billions of dollars every year because they believe what you say, so quit lying to people. This includes the people who pay you money to use your service as an advertising tool. It’s going to cost you their trust. This will, in turn, cost you money. Don’t lie to people. That’s some pre-k shit right there, Mark. Tell people the truth and they’ll appreciate you for it.
- Marketers – WHY ARE WE STILL FALLING FOR THIS SHIT??? Are we just going to keep giving Facebook chance after chance, only to find out a year later that they’re lying to us again? Please. Let’s look at some other forms of advertising. Maybe if we pulled back on the advertising a bit (or even a lot), Facebook will see that they need to get their act together and give us more accurate data. This way we won’t look stupid in front of clients. Just a thought.
The longer we let them do this do us, the more it’s going to happen. And it’s not just Facebook. YouTube (and in turn, Google), Twitter, Instagram (Facebook for people who don’t like to read), Pinterest, et. al. are going to start taking a page out of Facebook’s…book and start lying to us because they can. Hell, they probably already are.
So let’s hold them accountable. Let’s quit believing every number that gets thrown out way.
Let’s get it together, all of us, media companies and marketing firms alike, and maybe the world will work a little better. At least the advertising world will be, and that’s really all that matters.