An unexpected form of male privilege I recently discovered is that since my Professional Facebook Page now features a profile picture of me with short hair and no makeup, I suddenly get far fewer marriage proposals from strangers I’ve never met in the DM’s.
The whole thing started when I began hosting my music industry late show last year – the Facebook algorithm loves live videos and coupled with a couple of bucks of boost power, my reach exploded. With that, however, came the creepy guys sending my business their unprofessional love and affection.
Their broken English and overuse of Messenger stickers confirmed my suspicions that they were not here for intellectual discussions about the music industry, or to hire me for marketing work. All they saw was a pretty face on camera. Fun Fact: it was through official business channels that I was sent my first (of many to come) dick pics.
Upset, I started asking around what to do. I asked female musicians, male music business professionals, people working at Facebook, feminists of the internet, close friends, and family. Here was some of the advice they gave me that were not particularly helpful or produce the effective results I wanted…
“Flag their DM’s as SPAM!” (nope they can still message you after enough time has passed)
“Don’t boost your videos, only use targeted Facebook ads.” (I get slightly less randoms, sure)
“Exclude all the countries these creeps come from in your ads.” (My clients come from all over the world. I’m not going to write off an entire country because of one thirsty moron)
“It’s the price of fame, honey!” (if fame is a couple hundred views on my weekly videos, imagine what other girls are going through!)
Over months of tweaking and testing, here are the strategies that did work to limit the creeps, and quickly get rid of the ones causing trouble:
SEPARATE THE SEXES IN YOUR AD SETS
Have you ever noticed that despite targeting your Facebook ads based on what your fans like with the precision of a brain surgeon, they still lean so heavily male?
Well, this study has put concrete data behind a theory that had been mulling about in my head for a while – because, as a young entrepreneur with limited funds, I have a limited ad budget, Facebook’s algorithm had been stretching it as far as it could (that is, maximizing reach), by putting my ad in front of the population segment that costs the least: men.
Simply put, because the Facebook machine has crunched the numbers and discovered the self-identified women on its platform are more likely to click on sponsored content in their newsfeeds, it costs more ad money to get in front of them. By contrast, creepy guys are a dime a dozen (whod’ve thunk?).
To counteract this, what you gotta do is either spend more on ads, flip the “Women Only” switch when creating a targeted audience, or run ads separately by these two gender options.
The good old fashioned ban button never goes out of style. Use it liberally, as this is your turf, and no one should make you feel uncomfortable.
Block Keywords in Comments
While banning must be done manually, blocking keywords can be set up automatically. If your comment sections are being overrun with the same misspelled compliments, profanities, a certain emoji, or vocabulary that your fans would never use on a public forum, block those keywords, so that their comment is stopped dead in its tracks. Bonus: when you come around and clean up, you can ban them as you go.
Set Language to English
One piece of well-meaning advice I received from a female musician was to exclude certain countries from seeing my Facebook Ads. I can see where she was coming from – if all the troublemakers she was getting were from a certain region of the world (think, click-farm countries), it would make sense for her just to not bother reaching out there, even if that meant potential fans might never hear her music.
The alternative someone suggested to me, which I then tried, was the following: When creating an ad, instead of focusing on geographical region, set the language to English – All (as it covers American English and the rest of world’s, *cough*pop of colour*cough*).
This means that your ad will only be seen by people who have selected English as their mode for navigating Facebook (obviously, if you’re an international reader, adjust accordingly). Since users need to be fluent enough to operate Facebook in English to want to set it there, you’ll get far less creeps who don’t speak the language, and are just hanging around the page to oggle at your photos and videos, not caring about the lyrics you sing or important messages you share (and will likely never spend money on you).
They may not understand English, but what about math? If a creep keeps hitting on you in the DM’s, try sending a payment request. Best case scenario, they run for the hills. Worst case scenario, you get paid for the emotional labour of having to deal with creepy guys on your professional Facebook Page.
Have you found any other strategies that work? Let us know!