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Why We're Not Giving Any of Our Ad Dollars to Social Media in 2022

Updated: Jan 10, 2022


Managing social media accounts put us on the map. That's how GHOST ROCK began - copywriting on behalf of businesses for social platforms. This led to photography and video production for online platforms and a handful of valuable contracts with established businesses.

We owe social media our business in a lot of ways. But just like a child that grows to realize that their parents are deeply flawed, we are cutting the cord and striking out on our own.

Does this mean we'll lose business? Maybe. Does this mean we're shutting our company down? No.

Here are the reasons we're not giving social media platforms any of our add dollars in 2022 and beyond.

Diminishing Returns

Like many advertising tools and trends, the major social platforms of yesterday (about 10 years ago) are not those of today (i.e. TikTok just shot to the top of platforms with the most traffic). When we began to create and manage ads for clients in about 2016, the results were immediate and impressive. A small budget saw big results in online and in-person bookings and sales. By 2019, we noticed a change. While ads were showing increasingly huge returns in traffic, the ROI (Return on Investment) became less apparent. In other words something like this: Facebook tells us we've reached 100,000 people in our targeted audience, up from 50,000, but the 50,000 had trackable sales of $5,000, while the 100,000 shows only $200.

This has to do with a lot of things: algorithm updates, privacy cases against the behemoth that led to more algorithm updates, more competition on the auction that raises the cost of advertising, and, most notably, declining use of the platform. The latter is something you won't see in the news, Facebook certainly will not be publishing stories about how their user base is aging and becoming less interested. By all accounts Facebook, and its subsidiary Instagram, have billons of active users, but we believe this is misleading. What defines active? Someone who is an aspiring foodie on Instagram and someone who logs in once a month to send an out-of-state friend a message are both 'active' users. We suspect the latter is becoming more and more common. But when the numbers are generalized, the reporting obscures the passive user base.

Long story short, the jig is up. We've gotten wise to the tedium of posting pics of every meal, and reading about every fart a friend's dog makes. We realized that the never-ending pressure to put a gloss on mundane tasks is boring and that our newsfeeds are filled with what almost always amounts to narcissistic garbage.

As co-owner Nikola said just yesterday, "Facebook will soon be a graveyard of memories of people who are literally dead."


The Kids are Not Alright

Challenges that pressure kids to eat Tide Pods or stick pennies into live outlets are out there. Who knows where they begin and what is behind putting kids in life threatening situations. Maybe just kids daring each other like they always have, but amplified to millions of emojis pushing kids to prove themselves.

One of the most infuriating moral oversights is the lack of consequences for predators masquerading as teens, grooming, human trafficking, sexual harassment, threats of violence. These types of things happen all over the Internet. Chatrooms in the 90s were dangerous places to be. Arguably part of their appeal. But social media has allowed the dark machinations of society's underbelly to scale without fear of retribution.

There are Better Ways

Numbers don't lie. When we see decreasing returns in one place and increasing returns in another, it follows that we focus our resources on the avenue that is showing the highest return. Where we've seen the most fruitful ad placement in the last six months has been the sponsorship of independent creators. Podcasts, product reviewers, personalities that consistently produce great content and thoughtfully maintain their online community have proven to be pure gold. Quite literally, with returns on investment at over 250% in real money, it's difficult to argue with the loyalty that some creators inspire.

While the inflated numbers reported by Facebook show scrolling disinterest, creator sponsorship shows us users reward businesses who put their money where their values lie.

2022, here we come. Roughed up, but wiser. We survived huge losses and built up grit. Now we're ready to put our money where our mouths are and let the chips fall where they may.

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