Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: Will your supporters #deleteFacebook?

Date Published
JC Bouvier

Mark Zuckerberg has apologized for Facebook’s incredibly thin scrutiny of mercenary, amoral marketers who have nearly unlimited access to their user data; ultimately that’s a good thing, and Facebook users will be better protected as a result. Will they start leaving Facebook by the tens of millions? No.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg posted this mea culpa on his timeline regarding Cambridge Analytica’s apparent misuse of Facebook technology.

“We have a responsibility toprotect your data,and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. Butwe also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”

— Mark Zuckerberg

This statement is right of course. Facebook does have a responsibility to protect its user’s data — just like any nonprofit organization collecting supporter email, address, donation, or other data.

Facebook said it was sorry, they lost tens of billions in stock value, and in response Mark has moved to take responsibility and outline what next steps will be taken to protect Facebook users from this type of Machiavellian activity in the future.

However, Facebook’s marketing toolset can provide amazing results when used for sound and transparent fundraising activities, and you would do well to keep using this platform. The question that came up around our table was, Should we be concerned that Facebook users will start leaving in response to the Cambridge Analytica incident?

In my opinion, while I don’t see #deleteFacebook significantly denting Facebook’s monthly or daily average user counts, your team has an opportunity here to reassure your supporters. Inform them that your organization, your partner’s, and your vendors — many of whom may handle your supporter’s data — are performing all marketing activities in an aboveboard manner. Reaffirm that everyone is following industry best practices, and is in compliance with your privacy policy, terms and conditions, and of course the law.

Here are five relatively straightforward steps your organization can take right now to engage your supporters in a positive way about your use of Facebook and your data privacy practices.

  1. Review your privacy policy and terms and conditions
    Review your privacy policy and terms and conditions every quarter to verify they’re up-to-date and accurate. Take the time to review each clause with the goal of being able to explain simply, in plain English, why each clause is included. Write the clarification down in a Word document you can share with your entire organization.
  2. Get on the same page regarding supporter privacy
    Take the time to review your internal processes and external vendor agreements to ensure that everyone who handles or processes your organizations supporter data is on the same page. If there are legal discrepancies with vendors or partners, it goes without saying it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to remedy that at a pace and budget you can live with
  3. Communicate your organization’s data privacy philosophy
    Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is the bulk of your supporters haven’t read your data privacy policy or your terms and conditions. Moreover, they have no idea what your organization’s approach to privacy is and what you’re doing with the data they’re giving you. It’s worth telling them, even at the risk of alarming some supporters who had simply not considered these things. In the long run, with a sound and regular data privacy communication strategy, your retention rates will climb.
  4. Keep your supporters up-to-date when you make changes
    Progressive companies with thoughtful data privacy philosophies exist today, and you have likely encountered their efforts in your email inbox to update you about their philosophy and approach. Take a page out of their book, put a regular update placeholder in your outbound communications calendar, and make the effort to execute when you have something to say.
  5. Translate the legalese into a plain English summary
    The legalese is there to ensure that your organization and your supporters are protected by the letter of the law, but often the intent of those efforts is difficult to distill quickly, even significant effort. Have whomever is drafting or updating your privacy policy create easily digestible English versions of what those changes mean and communicate those in addition to the link to the actual legal version. See Slack’s example below — clean, concise, and I feel better already about my relationship with this organization.

Because Slack is used by teams around the world, its privacy policy needs to address the upcoming EU GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation) implementation.

Facebook will survive the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the vast majority of Facebook users won’t leave the platform. Your supporters will however appreciate your organization taking the time to explain how you intend to use the data you collect to communicate and market to them in the course of their relationship with Facebook and with your mission.

In fact, there’s an opportunity to give those supporters a better sense of why they receive certain marketing communications, including those you push to them via Facebook. Taking the time to creat meaningful data privacy communications can help keep supporters actively reviewing and engaging with your efforts, ultimately improving your overall file health and campaign performance.

About the Author:
J.C. Bouvier
Vice President, Digital Fundraising, Agency Services

Role at the Company

Working with the President of Agency Services and the CEO of AFG, I’m responsible for setting digital fundraising strategy and tactics for the Agency Services Client Management team and our clients.

What excites you about your work at AFG?

The opportunity to both build on and refine the digital practice and, working with our sister companies, to help create a sum greater than the parts.

If you weren’t at AFG, what would you be doing?

Helping others improve their marketing efforts, working on my own startup.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

Trying to get back to writing screenplays, discovering hidden terrific restaurants on the South Shore (Oro anyone?) and on Cape Cod (Terra Luna), playing competitive tennis, finding reasonable prices on outstanding wine, and sitting on the board of the Woods Hole Film Festival.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m a first cousin once removed of Ram Dass, (https://www.ramdass.org/) :: Timothy Leary’s partner at Harvard during the 1960’s LSD experiments, on my mother’s side.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

Opening the wrapped toy Eagle from the “Space 1999” TV show one Christmas. https://amzn.to/2I4Z6jN

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