Is Facebook a new form of slavery for brands?

I’m an early riser , and since I was the first to awake when visiting my family, I decided to prepare breakfast for everyone.
My mom is used to having her green Lipton tea every morning, so I grabbed the teabag and put it in a mug. Something caught my attention at that exact moment.
What I could see on the teabag label was an enormous Facebook logo, and no Lipton logo at all or almost none… (the Lipton logo is actually on the other side).
As far as I know, Facebook doesn’t produce tea.
But more importantly, Facebook is the very first platform that has successfully gotten many other brands to advertise them for free and be perfectly happy to do so on a very large scale.

I was quite shocked when I saw brands pushing their Facebook pages on advertising (TV, subways, magazines…), showing the logo or writing their page’s address.
“” by definition always puts Facebook first and your brand second. Yes, even if you’re a luxury brand.
But to put the logo directly on your product, that’s going one step further…
I agree that marketers should learn to be consumer-focused rather than brand-focused.  But this is neither: this is being platform-focused.

If you take a step back and ignore the power of Facebook (I’m referring to the whole group: Facebook/Instagram/Oculus Rift/Messenger/What’s App), this is total marketing nonsense, and I think it’s maybe time to realize this…
Don’t you think so?

Here are a few points that come to mind:

1. It’s not because you are on Facebook that you have friends, rather the contrary

Stop trying to tell people you are on Facebook.  This is 2016…Since 2009, people who really care have figured that out.
Once again, I don’t own a mobile phone to make new friends.  I have a mobile phone so I can connect more easily with my friends.  That’s what Facebook also does.
Brands should not try to win so-called “fans”.  In fact, if they really are “fans”, you should not advertise so much about being on Facebook; they should o come to you organically, like real friends do.
The number of fans/followers is just a vanity metric.
Erasing your brand from your own product in favor of Facebook, in the hope of winning more fans, is a dangerous move and one that I will never recommend.

Imagine a real person yelling to everyone “I’m on Facebook! Hey, did you hear me, I’m on Facebook!! Hey, don’t you want to be my fan? I’m on Facebook! Itsounds silly, but that’s what brands are doing.  And yes, they are wrong to do so.

If you want to attract anybody anywhere, you have to at least explain why they should be interested. Saying “Join me on Facebook” is not a good enough reason.


2. Being on Facebook doesn’t make your brand look “cool” or “digital savvy”

Actually it’s rather the contrary (Facebook is kind of passé). Facebook presence today is more of a requirement or an expectation than a savvy strategic choice. The new trendy move would be to claim that you have no digital presence at all. That’s what very new cool Gen Z brands are doing.

Ok, you don’t want to be trendy but you do want to talk to a broader audience, right?
My mother is 66 and has been on Facebook for years.
When I asked her to take the picture of her tea bag, she replied, “Which side? There’s one with an “f” on it”.
She didn’t recognize the Facebook logo. She couldn’t care less if you’re on Facebook or not. I bet she doesn’t even know you can follow brands and she’s not in the slightest bit interested in any of this.



3. Facebook will try to get everything from brands

I pay very close attention to how Facebook talks to brands.  Here’s an overview:

  • Prior to 2009: There is no space for brands on Facebook, and please do not open a private profile
  • 2009 >2011: Facebook will allow you to create a brand community, where you can gather all your fans and talk to them
  • 2011 > 2014: Guess what? You’re boring, so if you want to talk to your fans, now you have to pay
  • Since 2015: Forget about the fan thing, we are a media company.Why are you still bothering to invest in TV? Invest every ad dollar you have within Facebook.

BTW, we are dropping the price of video ads compared to YouTube and it’s easier to target with us, so…

In the near future:

  • Commerce should totally be handled through Messenger.
  • Why bother having your own blog with your own traffic and long tail SEO, when you can get everything into Facebook instant articles?
  • Having hard time to tell stories? You want to create entertaining content with the best in class?  Partnerships take time to create; just use Facebook Anthology instead
  • Messenger bot with Ai will totally revolutionnize the relationship with have between brands and Consumers and it’s coming

The magical thing here is that brands can never seem to get enough of Facebook. They don’t understand that the more they invest in it, the more they become slaves to it.

4. The modern oligopolistic situation is dangerous

I’m being unfair.  It’s not just Facebook.  A handful of companies (mostly the GAFA + Twitter + SnapChat – not integrating Chinese platforms), now own the media industry and the brand ecosystem.

Actually, every single one of them would love it to be only about them.
They are fighting hard to be THE ONE, but from a brand perspective, the choice is now very limited.
Since TV doesn’t deliver the way it used to, every platform is trying to get a piece of the cake (where the money really is): Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Snapchat?
It’s a hard choice, but brands should regain control and see platforms for what they are.  Brands need to be careful not to become a slave to any of them.

  • YouTube is great because it’s what people use today to search online, and you have a real SEO impact.
  • Facebook is great because it offers the best targeting.
  • SnapChat and Twitter are great if you target very specific communities
  • Etc…


For many years, I criticized Facebook for lying to brands (and now that Instagram belongs to them, they do the same with that platform), and I wondered how they could become a tool and not just be a cool spot.
I still can criticize Facebook (they still lie for their own interests).  But I have to admit that they have done an amazing job in becoming first and foremost a tool for brands and in trying to become a tool for users too.
This is where their future challenge lies, and Messenger/What’s App will be their next Trojan horses.

However, trying to take the place of internet (which is what Facebook is attempting in certain countries) may be a dangerous move that authorities could reject. This is what has happened in India, for instance, where many future internauts will be coming from.  Sometimes, trying to be too big can backfire on you.

gregfromparisAuteur: Grégory Pouy
Comments are closed.