Ages ago, I saw something on TV that caught my eye.
I didn’t really have any massive desire to watch it…
…it just kinda, piqued my interested a bit… I suppose.
It was a Panaroma special on Facebook.
“What Facebook Knows About You” or something.
Saturday night Cat was out with some friends, so I figured, I’ll watch it and can finally delete it from the planner.
It’s been there since May last year, after all.
(You can see how desperate I was to watch it…)
The thing is, half of the complaining wasn’t about what Facebook knows about you at all.
It was stupid, no… pretty idiotic criticism over Facebook privacy settings.
i.e. people being stunned that if they made a comment somewhere, other people could read it.
Or if you upload a photo and your privacy settings are set to public, the whole World can see it.
It shows not only a true fundamental lack of knowledge of how Facebook works, but secondly and far more importantly, a fundamental lack of knowledge of how the Internet works.
The thing is, Facebook make it relatively easy to check your privacy settings. Mine are relatively tight, and I don’t accept random friend requests.
Unless I’m actually friends with that person, I just don’t do it.
There’s even a setting in your own profile page, that lets you see what’s visible on your profile to who.
So… if in the eyes of the law “ignorance is no excuse” – how should that be different for users of a platform, who are using that platform entirely voluntarily?!
Why should it be Facebook’s responsibility to try and protect the fools and the “keyboard warriors”.
You know the ones I mean… the ones that clearly support causes or people that are “controversial” – i.e. Donald Trump or Britain First supporters, and the like…
But then they’re stunned to learn that their Facebook friends see they’ve been commenting on posts from those pages.
And that makes them worried, because they know these people in “real life”… but wouldn’t dare voice those opinions in public…
Closet racists… Closet homophobes… whatever…
Frankly as far as I’m concerned, if you’re not willing to voice your opinion publicly in the street you shouldn’t voice it through a keyboard. Simple.
But I have digressed, somewhat….
And so… on to the more important (and lesser focused on, if I might add) topic of “what Facebook knows about you”.
Let’s get something straight quickly: Facebook doesn’t care about you.
They don’t care about your cat’s name, although they probably care that you, user #3492374723 have a cat.
They don’t care you checked in at Bob’s Diner. They probably care that user #97324321 checked in at location #37423492384 though.
And yes, I’m maybe over simplifying a little, but you can see my point?
The whole point of Facebook getting to know every little thing about you, is so that you can see ads that are relevant to you.
After all, Facebook is free for you to use, in terms of monetary cost….
(And I should add, this is just the same as Google).
…but it’s not free in the respect that you give up a little of your privacy.
Pages you like.
Comments you make.
Even products you purchase…
…it’s all connected.
But as one person very clearly pointed out in the middle of this Panorama program …
(and it’s relevant that this person is a man… well, I guess it is… I’m sure I can offend someone here, of course….)
“I’m looking at a cycling website looking at bike wheels, then start seeing ads for bike wheels… I’d rather see those, than adverts for ladies shoes…”
And that’s so true, isn’t it?
I see some really irrelevant ads on Facebook sometimes, and I get annoyed.
Not at Facebook, but at the Advertiser, because I know they’ve screwed up their targeting.
I remember in the ‘early days’ of Facebook advertising you’d often see people complaining about the types of Ads that were in their news feed.
Partially because ads were new to them but mostly because they weren’t relevant.
You don’t really see people complaining that often that ads are irrelevant these days, more that the product that’s being advertised looks shoddy or poor reviews or whatever.
So let’s get to the point here… the question is: What does Facebook know about you?
The answer is simple: Pretty much all your online habits, if you don’t use private mode on browsers very often. They profile you based on your page likes and engagement in posts on certain topics, and they know whether you prefer interacting with text posts, photos or videos (based on how often you’ll comment/like posts of those types). They know where you are when you’re using the app (and almost certainly keep a record going back to the start of Facebook-time so will by that logic, know your favourite restaurants and places to go). They’ll often know what sort of products you shop for, and whether or not you buy them. There’s a good chance they know you’re a business owner, and possibly – how much you / your company earns (I have nothing to back that up, but I’m going on common sense based on the fact it wouldn’t be hard to connect the dots, and any public information is public information). They’ll probably know your political persuasion, and they probably even know how much your house is worth.
Sounds a lot. It is. But the more important question: Is that a big concern?
Well, not for me… otherwise I wouldn’t use Facebook.
But I guess here’s the important thing: I use Facebook knowing they know all this. I don’t care, because I know they know this not for any other reason other than to serve me with ads that are more relevant to me, because – and again here’s an important point – it’s not for my benefit that I get ads that are relevant to me as such, it’s that I’m more likely to buy a product / engage with a company with an ad that’s relevant – and THAT means happier advertisers.
And happier advertisers spend more.
And THAT is what Facebook want.
That’s why the ‘organic’ page posts are likely to disappear over the next year or two, and why if you want ANY traffic from Facebook, it’s going to have to be through Pay Per Click.
But more on that another day.
The ultimate question for you is this: do you want to shy away from this technology, or do you want to harness it for the good of your company?
Do you want to take advantage of this extraordinarily detailed targeting, so that you can profile your exact customer down to practically what they had for breakfast?
The normal answer here is “Of course I’d love to, but I have no idea where to start”.
Well, that’s good. Because it just so happens I can help you there.
(Funny that, eh?)
My book, Fix Your Website Fast, talks all about how to get the most out of your website and subsequently – the marketing of your website (which includes Facebook, obviously…)