Facebook is no stranger to controversy these days. Embroiled in scandals that range from data breaches to ethical concerns, they’ve desperately tried to correct their image. Unlike major news outlets that lean left or right in the political spectrum, Facebook has managed to piss off both sides of the aisle. The economic ramifications of losing CrossFit probably amounts to less than a ripple. However, it’s the perception of bias that might lead other corporations to follow suit.
It’s a little bit of an ironic situation for CrossFit to scorn Facebook. The kettlebell community has long been divided over CrossFit’s adoption of the American Swing. Many experts will say that it is inferior and might be even dangerous over the more accepted Russian Swing. The fact that CrossFit simply calls their version the Kettlebell Swing doesn’t help matters either. However, while I prefer the Russian style swing over the American style, CrossFit has done so much to promote kettlebell awareness.
In fact, many of my favorite kettlebell trainers are CrossFit Certified. There’s no denying that their numerous gyms across the U.S. have introduced kettlebells to a whole new generation. That’s why, after almost 20 years of business, it is perplexing to have them cut ties with these Facebook-owned properties entirely.
Why CrossFit Choose to Quit Facebook and Instagram
In a detailed post, several points are made as to how they came to this decision. Interestingly enough, every one of the 8 points starts off with the word “Facebook”. If it wasn’t clear before, CrossFit is pointing the blame squarely on the social media giant. I’m not going to cover every point, but there are a couple that really stuck out to me.
CrossFit, Inc. suspends use of Facebook and associated properties https://t.co/gdRs4nXa9k
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) May 24, 2019
Before I get into that, one look at CrossFit’s recent Twitter feed and you’ll see a bunch of retweets of articles from established media outlets regarding this situation. As a marketing and SEO guy, the potential to capitalize on this is substantial. The backlinks generated and pointing to the announcement page could have a huge impact on SEO and provide an opportunity for selling whatever program they’d like.
I must say, to CrossFit’s credit, there’s not so much as even an internal link in the content of their departure announcement. No workout’s, programs, certifications, or any products mentioned even in a sidebar or footer. Just the matter-of-fact statement. Therefore to call this a publicity or marketing stunt just doesn’t make sense. If I had to guess, a last straw moment was reached which ultimately lead to the decision to terminate the Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Notable Issues CrossFit Outlines
According to CrossFit’s announcement, the mysterious deletion of a popular Facebook group (Banting7DayMealPlan), was what prompted this whole thing. The group has been reinstated and with 1.6 million members it’s become a popular source to learn about:
food that is as close to its natural state as possible – free from processing, additives, preservatives and sugar
As far as I know, there is no affiliation between CrossFit and this group. Which just goes to show the respect CrossFit has for their values and ideals. It actually coincides with this portion of their statement:
CrossFit, Inc. defends relentlessly the right of its affiliates, trainers, and athletes to practice CrossFit, build voluntary CrossFit associations and businesses, and speak openly and freely about the ideas and principles that animate our views of exercise, nutrition, and health.
If that doesn’t sum up the definition of altruism, I don’t know what would! That statement isn’t even the most notable. Instead, I’d argue that calling Facebook employees “utopian socialists” takes the cake. This isn’t a new claim. Many other tech giants like Google and Microsoft have also been under scrutiny for promoting content and political beliefs that fit their agenda. The difference this time is that a business (not an adversary or independent study) is calling shenanigans. There isn’t much to gain but so much to lose by CrossFit not playing the middle ground.
The Cost of CrossFit’s Decision
…And just like that, an audience of 5.1M is gone
Let that above graphic sink in for a moment. I actually took a screen grab of the Bing search results because Google has already removed it. In both cases, an error/page not found message is displayed. Over 5 million followers lost. Compare that to their current number of twitter followers (973K) and it seems crazy to pull the plug from a business standpoint.
Personally, I feel a little conflicted. I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook. I don’t promote on it much and use it solely to keep tabs on friends and family. It’s become comfortable and if it were taken away I’d probably have some withdrawals. Instagram, on the other hand, is like a breath of fresh air. A community filled with positivity and so many marketing opportunities. Even though it’s been around for a while, it’s new to me and is a vital tool for promoting my brand, Kettlebell Krusher.
The problem, as it pertains to CrossFit, is that Instagram is a Facebook-owned property. So if you’re going to quit Facebook, it would be a little hypocritical to stay on Instagram. Even though they had more followers on Facebook, I think their absence on Instagram will be felt the most. Still, I have a lot of respect for what CrossFit has done and perhaps this might entice other businesses to re-evaluate their social media accounts.