Crossfit Inc. deleted its Facebook and Instagram accounts earlier this week as a result of Facebook shutting down a South Africa-based Facebook group “Banting 7 Day Meal Plans”. Although the South Africa group with 1.6 million followers has no affiliation with Crossfit, they do espouse the benefits of a low-carb, high fat diet that so many CrossFit followers implement in their daily routine.
Greg Glassman the CEO of CrossFit said recently that Facebook “doesn’t comport with my community standards for privacy and decency, so we’re out.” He has a long list of grievances with the social media company but are these fair?
In general, I believe peoples misunderstanding of lack of knowledge of how Facebook decides who gets to advertise and take part in their network are giving Facebook a bad name and has been under a tremendous amount of bad press over the last 2 years.
User Experience Is Facebook’s Priority
Facebook’s main concern is user experience. If their users have an unpleasant experience, meaning they are seeing content that they may not like, they will in turn lose their users which is imperative to their business model. Facebook has openly stated that their business model is based on putting “the right ad in front of the right person at the right time”. Meaning they need the content produced by its advertisers and users to be appealing and engaging.
This creates a frustrating environment for businesses like CrossFit, especially when you don’t thoroughly understand that there is no actual person making decisions on which accounts get shut down or which ads get disapproved. It’s the artificial intelligence that is making these decisions, at least on the first path, hence forth why “Banting 7 Day Meal Plans” group was immediately reinstated.
Facebooks “Lack Of Privacy” Is Good For Small Business
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing malicious about Facebook harvesting its user’s data. Facebook wants to give its users a good experience on its platform. It also has a responsibility to its advertisers which are mostly small businesses. We are in a gold rush with eCommerce and online business right now. Regular people with very little startup capital, are able to start a business and can afford to market their services or products on Facebook. They are also able to get substantial return on investment because of Facebook allowing people to hyper target users based on their interests and actions on and off of Facebook. Their algorithm not only helps advertisers find the most qualified user, someone who will identify with that brand and become a customer, but it is also focused on keeping the user experience of Facebooks users engaging.
Understanding Facebook’s Policies
As the owner of a Marketing agency that specializes in Facebook ads and has worked with numerous health and wellness and supplement companies, this frustration is all too familiar but can be solved quite easily. First off, understanding the policy and working with Facebook and its support is key to making sure your account is always in good standing. Facebook offers a free certification course called “Facebook Blueprint”. Often going through this course will actually reflect on your fan page or ad account with Facebook. It will also give you an understanding of the policies so that you can ensure that you don’t have to endure problems with ad accounts or pages being shut down.
This does not prevent it 100% but can definitely help. You see over the last 6 months Facebook has tightened its policy because of a few “bad actors” that have given the health and wellness space a bad name. Unfortunately, companies like CrossFit and groups like “Banting 7 Day Meal Plans” who may have great intentions, may be helping thousands if not millions of people change their lives through contrarian health beliefs and lifestyle, have to deal with the black eye that so few have given the industry. The bottom line is, if you don’t make unsubstantiated claims, provide a good experience for your audience with engaging content and have a pleasant customer service experience for your customers, Facebook will let you “play in the sandbox” so to speak. But at times since their algorithm is the one flagging accounts for policy violations, then you may have to deal with some of your ads or posts being disapproved or accounts being temporarily shut down.
So, in conclusion, as long as you are playing by the rules whether you like them or not, Facebook and Instagram are a great place for your business to be and to stay present with your audience. But understanding their policy and working with Facebook is key, especially if you are in a controversial space like health and wellness, supplements or weight loss. Companies like Crossfit who clearly don’t understand why Facebook does what it does or how it makes decisions, are making HUGE mistakes by leaving the platform. But hey, Facebook is not the only game in town, it is just the most popular and where the largest number of users are.
Brandon Fargo is the CEO of Brahvia Consulting