Standing up for social justice means pivoting—not pausing—your marketing efforts

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3fold knows advertising can be a force for good. In fact, it’s how we’ve built our business. When social movements emerge, knowing how to pivot your marketing plans can allow you to show your support without losing momentum toward your goals.

We already know Facebook is notoriously slow to address—and often immune to hearing—the growing global concerns for the rise of hate speech and attacks on democratic processes happening on the platform. When #StopHateForProfit launched to push Facebook to address its hate speech and misinformation issues by pausing advertising spending, we knew this aligned not only with our own mission, but that of many of our clients.

In June 2020, a number of civil rights groups, including the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, and Common Sense Media, launched the #StopHateForProfit campaign. With moral arguments making no headway, they decided to take a swipe at the company’s pocketbook. #StopHateForProfit encouraged companies to halt advertising on the platform for at least one month to try to get Facebook’s attention.

Throughout June and July, small and large brands alike, including corporations like Patagonia, Walmart, and McDonald’s, joined the campaign. 3fold and our clients were among them.

Pivoting for Activism

When we asked our clients to consider the #StopHateForProfit campaign we provided them with an overview of the situation and a few options to engage given the audiences they serve. As their advertising agency, we have a responsibility to serve our clients’ best interests at all times while delivering the biggest ROI possible and ensuring we’re meeting the goals they hire us to meet.

To do this, we created an Activism Pivot Plan.

The plan:

  1. Our team fully researched and vetted the #StopHateForProfit campaign.
  2. Based on each clients’ individual needs, we identified how it could fit into their overall strategies and where opportunities for pivoting existed.
  3. We pitched the campaign and our recommended changes to our clients. This included options to re-engage their customers in new ways. Supporting the campaign without pausing their own progress.

The Effects

  • Southwestern Community College District: Facebook budget reallocation to Google Search decreased campaign cost-per-click by 34 percent month over month.
  • CSU Fullerton: Facebook budget reallocation to Paid Search contributed to a 92 percent increase month over month in student enrollment form submissions.
  • Los Rios Community College District: Facebook budget reallocation led to a 20 percent increase in new user traffic to their website and increased overall time on site by 175 percent.

So, What Happened with #StopHateForProfit?

3fold and our clients joined more than 1,100 businesses, 100+ non-profits, and countless consumers in the campaign. The message to “stop valuing profits over hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism, and disinformation,” was noticed.

Industry Results

  • Facebook removed more than 22 million posts for hate speech in the second quarter.
  • 56 percent of agency buyers said clients paused Facebook ad spend in July.
  • Facebook announced a policy change on August 11 to ban blackface images and more implicit forms of hate speech, such as antisemitic stereotypes.

Realistically, we all know Facebook will likely continue to see increases in ad revenue next quarter. After nearly three months of conversations, senate hearings, and boycotts, Facebook’s stock price still rose by 21 percent, starting at $231 in June and reaching $281 toward the end of August. However, we are also seeing more (if imperfect) restrictions on “acceptable” content and speech in both paid and organic environments on the platform.

Words and people matter. The media, including Facebook even if they deny they are “media,” plays a crucial role in listening and reshaping how we treat and communicate with each other online.

Did the campaign change everything? Of course not. Was it worth it anyway? We believe yes. 3fold was founded on a vision of “contributing to thriving communities” and we will continue to work, donate, volunteer, and advocate for anything we believe makes us all stronger, safer, and healthier.

More on Facebook’s hate speech progress report and scorecard here: https://www.stophateforprofit.org/progress-report