Dear Mark Zuckerberg. I am writing an open letter to you because I am a South African and we like writing open letters. It’s just part of what we do, like winning Rugby World Cups.
You may be aware that Facebook is the biggest social media platform in South Africa and a lot of brands and small businesses rely on you to reach customers and clients. So, this matters, not just to me, but to many others. You have enormous power in my country and I wish you’d care about us more.
Here’s the crux of the issue: for a bunch of reasons, I would very much like to spend some of my marketing budget with you. But I won’t, because Facebook, aka Meta, won’t let me change the name of my client’s page and won’t tell me why, either.
And I’m certainly not going to invest precious money in promoting a brand that no longer exists.
My client is a Johannesburg community radio station. We are small and we would like to grow. Advertising on Facebook would make a lot of sense for us, because we want to target people within our broadcast footprint – and Facebook is great for local and hyperlocal targeting.
In August, we changed the name of our brand from Star919FM to 919. I managed to change our Facebook URL, but not our page name. “Computer says no,” to quote Carol from Little Britain. It seems that we are STAR FM on Facebook, and always and forever shall be. There is no query button to click on. Nobody to ask for help.
When I did the obvious thing and sounded out the Facebook social media group I’ve been part of for donkey’s years, they told me your Bryanston offices are a shell with a security guard and no-one else. “I want to cry and scream,” to quote someone who works in the same industry and has the same problem.
She mentioned chaining herself to a chair to get results, but she’s not hopeful. Neither am I. This is making my client look bad, through no fault of our own. When we try to explain, we sound like we’re making excuses.
Given how much you make in ad revenue, it makes no sense that you’d put in place some arbitrary rule to frustrate the very people you rely on for your millions.
For a platform that supposedly makes it easy to access anyone, anywhere, you certainly value opacity and intransigence when it comes to your own organisation. It seems there might be a light at the end of this particular tunnel. It turns out you have partner agencies who can help.
I’ve messaged one of them on LinkedIn and another social media professional on the Facebook has kindly tagged someone who might be able to help.
I’m choosing to feel positive, like when my radio station client reminds listeners who are battling potholes and load shedding and drivers who don’t know how to use traffic circles.
But it shouldn’t get to this stage. Screaming and tearing out our hair in sheer frustration shouldn’t be part of it.
In my industry, we spend so much time talking about customer experience and user journeys, and how to make it better, and yet the gorilla in our marketing landscape can do what it likes. Spend money with us, you seem to be saying, but we won’t lift a finger to help.
So, here’s a solution: tell us who to ask for help and where to go. Make using your platform better. Make it easier for us to spend money with you to build our brands and our businesses during tough times. Our economy really does need you to come to the party, and I’d like to think that you need us, too. This doesn’t have to be so hard. Please.
Britten is a communication strategist