Talk of the Facebook & Cambridge Analytica scandal is buzzing everywhere. It’s the biggest data security breach the internet has yet to experience—and it has affected over 50 million people.
According to their website, Cambridge Analytica “uses data to change audience behavior.” Their company pulls massive amounts of online user data from a range of sources and puts it under an analytical behavioral science lens. This includes applying a series of different tracking and categorizing algorithms to the data collected to find patterns—such as what common negative sentiments about a specific politician exist within a certain demographic—with the intention of better understanding driving online marketing campaign trends within specific online audiences.
They collect their data from a range of sources, including Facebook, other social media sites, and independently hosted polls, and then sell that data to companies and politicians for marketing campaign use. They have a political and commercial division—or, had, as the company went bankrupt on May 7th, 2018, and won’t be revived under a different name.
As a responsible business owner, the situation may be having you scratching your head and wondering what this means for your online marketing strategy. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s still unclear whether Facebook assumed the data was being collected for research, or if the company was aware the user data was being turned around and sold to other businesses for the purpose of ad targeting. The truth will continue to unfold, but it has immediate implications for users and businesses.
What Does This Means for Users?
Many Facebook users have been left questioning if they should quit the platform for the sake of privacy, or future interactions with private entities such as business pages going forward to keep their personal lives more secure. If thinking that clicking the ‘like’ button on your favorite dry-cleaning service in town puts your personal information at risk, this could result in a decline in engagement for business owners and their Facebook pages.
It also means, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, that some of your customers may feel like they cannot trust your page as a company. Across the board, trust is needing to be regained within the social media sphere. That means, even if your business did nothing wrong strategically, that you may see an overall decline in engagements, views, and conversions as a result of this scandal. It’s not the end of the world though. If managed carefully, this also means that you have the opportunity to connect with users and rebuild that connection as a personal company that cares about their concerns. The ceiling in some ways has been lifted, as far as reach potential.
What Does This Mean for Your Business’ Marketing Strategy?
The bottom line for local businesses is that you need to diversify your marketing strategy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, along with years of Facebook limiting business pages with their algorithmic delivery strategy, suggests that utilizing an organic posting strategy on a Facebook business page as a primary means of reaching your target audience, without any other marketing strategies, is becoming more and more unfeasible. Incorporating targeted ad campaigns, Google analytics, and effective SEO into your marketing strategy are absolutely necessary for helping your business grow and thrive, as a result.
If customers aren’t going to engage with businesses through Facebook—other avenues will need to be explored, tested, and enacted. Making sure that happens needs to be a top priority in your marketing strategy.