I’m in agreement with 86% of marketers – Facebook is here to stay, and is a critical tool for communicating with your audiences (although, I believe that for consumer brands, the odds of realizing strong ROI are better). In fact, I’m surprised that the statistic from Ad Age wasn’t higher. Consumers are using Facebook for everything – to search for new products and brands, email and chat with their friends, document their daily lives, find jobs, make purchases….the list goes on and on. It’s not rocket science – everyone is using Facebook and if you want to be where the people are, then your brand should be there too.
What does not surprise me however, is that marketers aren’t using Facebook advertising. In fact, I haven’t recommended Facebook advertising to a client in over a year. When Facebook’s ad platform initially launched (and before there were so many advertisers on board) – their targeting is what drew me in. I loved to slice and dice target audiences and run ads that were customized to their interests. However, as Facebook has grown larger, its audiences have become much more savvy – demanding a more authentic experience from the brands that they care about. They don’t want to read an advertisement and visit a landing page. They want to feel heard. They want to interact. They want to have a conversation. All of that can be accomplished through a well-done, well-managed Facebook timeline…for free.
Not convinced? Here are five reasons why I won’t be recommending Facebook advertising to my clients:
1. Your audience is on to you: As I’ve already mentioned – your ad isn’t fooling anyone. Facebook users know where ads are placed, are bombarded with them daily and avoid them like the plague. An exclusive, shareable promotion offered to your fans via your brand’s timeline is likely to have more impact.
2. Targeting doesn’t always work: Marketers understand that Facebook has its privacy issues and its users know that too. For that reason, many consumers are hesitant to self-identify their interests, fill out their ‘About’ pages or give permissions that would make their information publicly available to you as an advertiser. Additionally, just because Facebook tells you that your audience will see your message – doesn’t meant that your ad will compel them to take action (that’s true of any advertising medium). For Facebook, a better tactic would be to connect with the organizations, publications and associations that are interesting to your audiences and engage with them in conversation to promote your brand’s timeline page and product offerings in a relevant way.
3. All clicks, no action: As Ad Age mentions, many marketers feel that it’s challenging to track and measure the impact of Facebook advertising – and it can be particularly challenging to decipher whether or not your advertising efforts led to a direct sale. Additionally, in my personal experience, Facebook tends to generate less click-through than more traditional advertising methods do. What’s the value of a click if you don’t know what the outcome is?
4. Your money is better spent elsewhere: Social media advertising is trendy right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s must-do for every single brand. Invest in marketing that you know will give you measurable return – for your organization, that may mean television or radio, banner ads, direct or email marketing. Just because it’s newer, doesn’t mean it’s better.
5. You can market on Facebook for free: Creating a timeline for your brand is 100% free of charge (for now). Think of your brand’s timeline as one giant non-traditional advertisement. It’s an opportunity for you to be creative and speak directly to your audience. An exclusive coupon code, promotion or contest can go a long way when it’s unique, interactive and well-planned.
At the end of the day, the social media cliches are true. Today’s consumer demands a more authentic and transparent brand experience, and Facebook advertising isn’t necessarily the way to achieve that. Today’s marketer needs to understand how their audience uses the platform, and what type of experience they expect from the brands that they love – a modern advertising strategy includes a mix of digital and traditional tactics.
I’ll be revisiting this topic soon, once I’ve had the chance to use and learn more about Facebook Exchange and its capabilities. Are you using Facebook ads? Are you eagerly anticipating Facebook Exchange? Leave your thoughts in the comments.