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How Facebook is Making Social Awareness an Advertising Trend

It seems as if the world is becoming more socially conscious every day. In the past few years, social media sites have gone from being a cool way to connect with friends to a hotbed of political activity.

As a result, businesses who advertise on social media are becoming more conscious of the effects of their ads based on where and when they are placed. Let’s take a look at how recent events will change Facebook marketing trends.

Pausing Ads in Times of Social Unrest

When considering social media digital marketing, the most direct ’cause and effect’ response may have come about during the storming of the Capitol. As rioters pillaged and looted the building, advertisers held back by going dark with their social media ads.

The reasoning behind this being that when people are worried about their nation’s future, bombarding them with ads seems tasteless and ineffective. After all, if you were worried about whether you would wake up to a safe America tomorrow, would you be concerned about buying the latest mascara?

Social media was further affected when former President Trump was blocked on several platforms for allegedly publishing posts that provoked the riots. At this point, experts took to social media to express their stands on the matter.

Jonathan Kagan, CP of Search Cogniscient Media/9 Rooftops was quoted as saying, “We advised our clients that there was so much coverage of the situation, running into a brand safety scenario of coming off as tone-deaf/insensitive to the situation in DC would be inevitable. To avoid possible brand association, we recommend they temporarily cease paid social ads.”

Lisa Barone from Overit took to Twitter posting, “Most brands should pause. People are suffering. They’re scared. If you can’t be useful in a situation, say nothing.”

When brands advertise during times of social unrest, they may seem insensitive and may even run the risk of incurring negative comments and feedback from potential customers. But those that aren’t seeing these effects may choose to continue advertising.

In fact, some people feel that advertising on the right news channels and aligning themselves with political views that represent their values can help their brands. Furthermore, spreading relevant positivity while advertising may boost morale.

However, if you are going to continue advertising in the face of political turmoil, it is important to commit to your cause. Make a bold statement and back it up with your brand messages to make it clear you are owning your stand while eliminating possible miscommunication.

Assemble a team so you can deal with any potential crisis and put out fires before they escalate.

Diversify by advertising on a variety of channels. That way you can pull your ads from platforms that aren’t working while maintaining a presence on those that are effective.

The Aftermath

Although the political unrest may have calmed down over the last few days, there is lasting aftermath that will come into play in how businesses advertise moving forward.

Facebook recently announced that it will be testing news feed topic exclusions for advertisers in 2021. The new features will allow marketers to choose whether or not they want their ads shown next to potentially sensitive content.

For instance, if a child’s brand thinks it best not to display an ad next to an article on an adult-oriented TV show, they would be able to have a say in regard to placing it in another location.

Along with adult content, crime and tragedy and political and social issues are among those that might be considered inappropriate for some brands. Facebook will continue working with the tool to add more topic exclusions as they see fit.

When announcing the new feature, the platform made mention of privacy considerations. However, it is unclear how their process of protecting user privacy will come into play with the new ad topic exclusion.

The most relevant quote in terms of privacy and how it relates to the new feature came from a Facebook communications spokesperson who stated, “This is the first time a feed environment will be managed through controls. Before release, we need to understand ad performance and efficacy while honoring our commitment to privacy.”

While advertisers had previously created blocklists of keywords to exclude, this option will give businesses more control over where ads are placed in the Facebook news feed.


Recent political events have affected how businesses are advertising on social media with more sensitivity being paid to hot button topics. While some are playing it safe by staying away from emotional and political issues, others are capitalizing on it by taking a strong stand for or against it.

With much of the unrest dying down, we can only wait to see if this is an ongoing trend but in reality, the world has been becoming more socially aware in recent times. It makes sense that brands will be integrating these values in their advertising strategies whether it be to take a stand or avoid the matter altogether. What side of the coin will your business be on?

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