Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Editorial: Concerning the Ban of Animal-For-Sale Ads on Facebook

The recent decision of Facebook to enforce its ban on animal for-sale ads will have far-reaching consequences. It's unclear what Facebook's motivation is. Perhaps they don't want to be facilitating the ugly trade in animals that happens all over the world. That would be very unusual, since Facebook has not been very active in discouraging so many other forms of heinous human activity. Are they banning posts about bestiality? If they have humanitarian motives, you'd think that would be a much higher priority. I don't believe they ban pedophilia or other forms of human-to-human abuse either. Why For-Sale ads, especially since there are many legitimate ones?

The ban will undoubtedly affect many types of groups that depend on Facebook, including rescues - and certainly sport horse breeders. It has already affected a number of breeder groups and pages. Groups that included "Sales" or "For Sale" in the name have already changed names, and tried to remove all words that might trigger FB to delete them. Whether that is effective, and for how long, remains to be seen.

I believe that this is an important wake-up call, whether you are selling horses or other animals, or stallion services, or training services - basically, if you are depending on FB in any way. Breeders have come to depend on the social media giant to connect with potential buyers for the youngsters their breeding programs produce.

Some marketing specialists have encouraged breeders and trainers and other equestrian small businesses to build their marketing plan around Facebook. We have come to think of Facebook as our friend. We enjoy it as a happy, social place - and we tend to forget an important thing: Facebook was not started as an altruistic venture, and it has never been. Facebook is not your friend. It is a private company and doesn't make decisions based on your best interests. It makes decisions based on Facebook's own best interests, period. Not only that, but it will never share its whole decision-making process with you. Facebook will publish "a" reason - and it may sound convincing - but FB has a pretty poor record when it comes to completely transparency. The only thing you know for sure is that a decision that Facebook makes is a decision that Facebook feels is good for Facebook's bottom line.

From a professional marketing standpoint, I believe the best approach for any business is to build your business around your own website - and to use Facebook for what it's good at: announcing current news, connecting with others, sharing knowledge - and driving traffic to your own website. Your website should be the core of your business. Facebook is so easy to use (mostly) that it's tempting to have your business "live" there. But there are huge advantages to your own website.

  • You own your website: you control it, no one can tell you what you can and cannot post. 
  • Your website can become a useful reference and an archive and a gallery of all your business history. It's much easier to have all your foal photos on one page for people to see, for example, and easy to add it to your menu so people know just where to go. It takes a lot of work to organize photos on Facebook in a way that works for other people to find what they're looking for.
  • Your website is where people look for you. For stallions, the number 1 place breeders look online is the stallion's own website. (Reference: http://www.warmbloodstallionsna.com/survey2014.php. Scroll about half-way down the page.) I suspect the same is true of farms and other businesses like training.
  • You can post your sale horses on your own site, and on a sales site, and then promote the listing on Facebook without violating their policy.
Centering your business on your own website, and using Facebook just for the "social" part of your marketing plan, is your safest option - and very likely your most effective one too.

No comments:

Post a Comment