- Understand why Starbucks is taking this position
- Uncover what larger implications this may entail
For some time now, many companies and brands have been faced with a difficult decision that has the industry in an uproar: should Facebook remain a platform for organic social content. To take a quick step back, organic social content refers to posts that a brand makes on a social platform that is not amplified / supported with paid investment. For years, organic social has taken a beating: it provides no additive reach, it drives no real engagement, it’s a waste of time and resources. But there are those that take an opposing view that argue that organic social allows followers of a brand’s social platforms to converse directly with a brand and develop a relationship. These are all great arguments for or against organic social.
But I digress.
As I just mentioned, organic social has become a playground for the public to engage in conversations directly with brands. This has also opened the door for negative commentary as well. Hate speech and arguments can tend to dominate and wash out a message. Whether a brand posts something seemingly innocent and brand marketing related, it can take a negative turn.
This is exactly what Starbucks is facing with regards to its organic Facebook presence. According to BuzzFeed News, Starbucks “is in the process of evaluating its organic presence on Facebook, and whether they should continue to have a presence on the platform at all.” Simply put, they are inundated with hate speech. Whether in regards to social issues or on their values ( Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, climate change etc). And it’s not that Starbucks is running away from organic social or even community management, they simply can’t manage the volume anymore.
And it’s counterproductive to what they wanted their Facebook presence to be about. Starbucks strives to promote an inclusive and welcoming online community no matter the platform. This constant hate speech is killing that community approach. You will also remember that Starbucks was at the forefront of the potential Facebook boycott in June and July of 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement hit a peak. So, Starbucks definitely makes bold stances and heavy claims. They put their money where their mouth is.
This is not a case of that. It’s a case of whether social (and really all online communities) should be allowed to have complete freedom of speech, or if there should be some censorship. It’s a massive debate that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.