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Facebook - What's Next and How to Plan for It?

As a fundraiser, you understand that your duty is to be a good steward and always act with accountability and integrity toward your donors. Facebook is now faced with a very similar challenge, as it works to rebuild trust, while still delivering on its business model’s promise of personalized experiences, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Giving users greater control of their own data, onboarding the EU’s GDPR, taking down easily compromised targeting tools like the Partner Program (source of the Cambridge Analytica dust up), and upgrading its privacy policies, suggest that Facebook’s leadership in people-based marketing is headed in the right direction. And, with its substantial resources and culture of innovation, I remain optimistic that Facebook will continue to be a highly impactful platform for supporter engagement.

Here are some reasons why:

First, according to Facebook’s publicly available statements, the platform is prepared to meet new privacy requirements under GPDR, which carry heavy penalties for violations — as much as 4 percent of an organizations global revenue. When the Cambridge Analytica news broke, Facebook was quickly able to roll out new privacy settings. In this regard, Facebook is not alone — numerous other platforms, from Google to Amazon, who have vast amounts of customer data, will follow suit to ensure customers and donors are clear on what data is being captured and how their data is being used.

Next, viable targeting alternatives are still available to reach donors and charitable communities on Facebook and other scaled platforms like Google, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pandora. The key difference now is fundraisers will need to put more intelligence into their audiences prior to creating Facebook Custom Audiences. Previously, you could rely on syndicated segments that were prebuilt via third-party data providers (Partner Programs). Now you have to put more time into thinking about why you are targeting an individual, what sites are best to message them on, and put more effort into controlling your data between the platforms. In retrospect, we should all seek this level of control anyway as part of CRM best practices.


Finally, while inferred third-party models are out, the best practices of people-based marketing are still in. From the CRM perspective, for fundraisers with constituent databases, you can still append data to those records to increase resolution of your target and pull qualified lists onto the platform and conduct targeted campaigns. Dozens of productive use cases for people-based marketing still exist to help fundraisers manage digital fragmentation and the need to connect experiences and message sequences across devices and platforms. 

CRM marketers have already gone through numerous waves of regulation over the past 20 years or so, from “do not call,” and “do not mail” to CANSPAM.  Improved privacy and data transparency at Facebook is just another meaningful change that fundraisers will now adapt to. The marketing premise today is still all about marketing to people and not proxies (e.g., cookies); and using what we know about an individual to align with their personal motivations and giving needs. 

I fully expect Facebook to keep pushing the frontier of people-based marketing and meaningful user engagement. This will lead to better donor experiences and scaled revenue for a long while to come.