The Facebook Boycott: Determining Whether Your Business Should Participate

Jul 2020

More than 400 companies have recently declared that they are pulling their advertising from Facebook for the month of July to take a stand against hate speech and racism on the platform. What does the boycott mean for your business and how should you respond? We’ve developed a guide to help you navigate this new movement. 

What is the Facebook Boycott?

The Facebook Boycott is one of the latest responses to the Black Lives Matter movement. Civil rights organizations including Color of Change, the Anti-Defamation League, and the NAACP have united against Facebook’s alleged failure to enact appropriate measures against racism and hate speech on its platform. Their campaign is called Stop Hate for Profit and it calls for businesses to hit Facebook leaders where it hurts most: their wallets. Businesses participating in the campaign agree to halt their spending on Facebook for the month of July. To date, Verizon, the North Face, Unilever, and hundreds of other businesses have announced their participation. According to Color of Change’s campaign announcement, the hope is that “losing ad revenue for one month may cause Facebook to reconsider how it has ignored the demands of Black users and civil rights organizations.”

Should Your Business Participate?

Admittedly, the stakes are different for major advertisers. According to an early New York Times report, many participating brands’ annual Facebook budgets are in the millions. These brands are well-known, their advertising spans multiple mediums, and their fan bases are large and established. While it’s unlikely that these large businesses will experience a long term disadvantage from taking a month off of Facebook spending, smaller businesses might not be in the same boat—especially in light of economic conditions due to the current pandemic. If you’re uncertain about the best path forward for your business, we’ve outlined a few practical ways to assess your current efforts on Facebook to determine whether a halt in spending is right for you.

Determine Your Ad Value

What goals are your Facebook ads currently reaching for your business, and how do those efforts contribute to your bottom line? Facebook has increasingly limited organic reach, so the lack of awareness and lead volume from Facebook ads may deliver a much stronger blow to a smaller business’s ads ecosystem than it might to that of a larger business. Can you afford to go without the awareness and revenue that your ads generate, and are you prepared to weather the period of time it might take for your ads to gain momentum again once you turn them back on?

Research Your Competitors 

Learn how other similar businesses in your vertical are handling the boycott. Are your competitors participating and are they publicizing their participation to their audiences? Search for statements on their social media and websites, and browse the Facebook Ad Library to see if their ads are still running.

Monitor Community Sentiment

Current assessments estimate that nearly 70% of consumers are unaware of the boycott, but you should still keep close tabs on your community. Monitor your ad comments, the comments on your organic posts, and your messages and DMs for negative sentiments. If a substantial segment of your audience is reacting negatively to your advertising because of your lack of participation in the boycott, it could make sense to cut back on your Facebook spending this month in order to maintain a positive reputation. 

Alternatives to Facebook Advertising

There are plenty of places to reallocate your Facebook budget. If you decide that a spending hiatus is right for you, there are many ways to make up for the leads and awareness you’ll be missing out on. Now may be the perfect time to explore advertising options on other digital platforms you might not have otherwise considered. YouTube, LinkedIn, Bing, the Google Display Network, and programmatic ads are all highly effective advertising avenues, several of which have similar costs to Facebook advertising. Additionally, you can get around spending money directly on Facebook by initiating an influencer campaign to bolster your reach on Facebook or Instagram and potentially get in front of new audiences. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and your audience and goals are a good fit, consider venturing onto a new advertising platform. TikTok, Reddit, and Snapchat all have growing advertising opportunities. 

At the end of the day, it’s not just your business goals and metrics that will determine whether you participate in the boycott, but your customer-facing company values as well. There are many factors to consider, and not all of them are tangible. 


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