Repeal of Facebook’s racial discrimination feature; what it means for SME’s

Social media marketing, especially Facebook Ads has in the past helped to improve the bottom line of many small business owners. The future remains unclear now that Facebook has indefinitely suspended the racial discrimination feature on campaigns. This feature played a vital role in campaign targeting where one could include or exclude people based on their culture or ethnicity. It emerged that unscrupulous businesses people were using this function to disadvantage minority groups in real estate and financing.

The ethical and legal concerns are well-founded; people have been locked out of opportunities with this multicultural marketing feature. It’s a dilemma when a function made with all good intentions finds new use in racial vilification and fueling inequalities. In the backdrop of all that one cannot help to think that Facebook was not doing enough in ads reviews to stem out all ill-intended campaigns. That’s why we are here, staring a bleak future for small market enterprises that could lose a fortune.
Facebook charges advertisements per dollar per view. Thanks to the audience optimization tool, one can customize who sees and who doesn’t see their campaign. Targeted ads are efficient on the budget. The multicultural marketing function helped to enable or disable ads in specific regions based on race. The repeal of this targeting feature certainly means that it will become more expensive to reach a target audience per dollar of your campaign. Big corporations might never feel a pinch, but small businesses have been hit below the belt. For a young woman selling hair treatment products designed for black women, her Facebook campaigns will just drown in the massive sea of online advertisements with zero impact.

The multicultural targeting function also helped to boost engagements. That is because the ads got to the right people with interest in your brand. By engaging with your posts, the right audience could help you further expose your brand to new positive markets. Sadly, with the end of that targeting feature, a small business might have to deal with offensive reviews and damaged reputation, all because of marketing to the wrong audience.

Online marketing serves a primary role of enabling small businesses build lasting relationships. Targeting can help you get the message out with laser accuracy. Without proper targeting, there is lower customer retention and few relationships developed over an extended period. Multicultural affinity targeting enabled young entrepreneurs to zoom on their potential clients in the market and spend time conversing, luring and nurturing them with relevant campaigns. In the future, such preciseness ad proficiency might never be possible again.

The controversial racial segmentation tool helped businesses identify areas of need and to improve on them. It is much harder to get relevant feedback and inject that into product development without ethnic targeting. In the past, small businesses could just focus on the individual needs of people within their small targeted cultural groups and tune their products and services towards their needs. With an end to ethnic targeting, you will be forced to spend extra costs on market research. Equally, measuring the performance and impact of your marketing endeavors will not be an easy task.

Using Facebook’s racial segmentation feature would allow you to appeal directly to specific people. It was easy to make your customers feel special. The repeal of the same means that you will have to redesign your messages to be all-inclusive, or else you risk offending and disrespecting people from other communities. As you generalize your message, you risk watering down your unique selling point. Your brand identity will lose meaning to the people that it matters.

Repeal of Facebook’s racial discrimination feature is a move that will, in the end, suppress the diversity that is a building block for our green planet. In the future, it will be challenging to empower small minority groups with meaningful messages. There is already nonchalance with mainstream media adverts where a lot of people feel like the marketers are not like them, they don’t share in their experiences and they don’t identify with their problems. A small nonprofit targeting to improve the lives of Hispanics might have it rough appealing to the right people for funding.

Facebook needs to do a deep soul searching before, moving to scrap off the racial segmentation tool entirely. It’s not just businesses that stand to lose, Facebook itself will lose millions in advertising revenue when their campaigns turn less efficient. But all we can do now is just wait and see.

Tony Fountain