Facebook Advertising – Why I think GM acted too swiftly

Advertising on Facebook is an interesting animal.  Most people have gotten comfortable with online advertising in certain forms – Google Adwords, banner ads etc.  But advertising on social media is a new beast and not many people know how to handle it.

Take GM for example.  Yesterday General Motors announced that they were pulling their ads from Facebook (yes, just a few days before Facebook’s planned IPO on Friday).

According to the Wall Street Journal, they were spending about $10 million a year on Facebook advertising.  This is the equivalent of about two days worth of overall media buying for GM – a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of their marketing.

However, this move highlights the crux of the Facebook advertising issue – will organizations see a return on their advertising spend?

My response is ‘yes’.  But it depends on what kind of return you are expecting.  One thing that I’ve found in my experience with Facebook is that people aren’t willing to leave the platform to interact with your website.  In fact, Facebook will even tell you this flat out (as my account manager did at the time I was setting up my ads).

This lack of interest in leaving Facebook means that ads directing people to an external URL won’t convert.  However, directing people to an external URL isn’t the only option for advertising.

Facebook is becoming an increasingly robust platform, and if people want to stay there, but still interact with your product, I say bring the product experience to them.

Create an app that allows them to enter contests, share pictures and stories of their interactions with your product.  Play into the strengths of Facebook – it is a fun, personalized platform, so give people a fun, personalized experience with your product.

Again, my parting thought is that just because Facebook advertising doesn’t convert in the same way we would expect a Google Adword to, doesn’t mean it is a poor advertising option.  It simply means you need to reevaluate the platform, the audience and whether this fits into your marketing goals.

But don’t take my word for it, take a peek at what Ford Execs said about this in Forbes.

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