Facebook Advertisements – Fabulous or Fiasco?
Are Facebook advertisements fabulous or just a fiasco? Is it simply question of preference or are the numbers trying to say something important about the future of Facebook? As a social media management firm, these are questions we confront each and every day so it may be instructive to examine the cautionary tales as well as confounding variables influencing the current status of social media advertisements.
First it was GM; the major motor company publically announced the discontinuation of all Facebook advertising with the simple statement that it didn’t work out as well as planned. Of course, after some quick research into their social media practices and past campaigns, it became abundantly clear why the world’s largest auto company wasn’t getting the great results originally anticipated. In fact, we reported on it extensively. However, GM’s decision was also notorious for what wasn’t mentioned in the original reports…the fact that they had dropped not only Facebook advertising but also intended on discontinuing their Super Bowl advertising campaign in 2013. Whew! Well, that was news wasn’t it and puts an entirely different perspective on the entire situation.
Facebook & the Super Bowl
The very fact that GM intended to stop advertising for the 2013 Super Bowl and Facebook presents an entirely different picture of the problem; perhaps, just maybe, it’s not social media marketing that isn’t working. After all, despite slowed growth rates among television advertising in general, the Super Bowl remains the gold-standard of expensive, high viewership advertising. In fact, Super Bowl advertising has reached such a fevered pitch that it has a following all its own with millions of viewers eagerly tuning in to view the advertisements as much as the actual game. Of course, as long time readers already know, GM has recently announced plans to give Facebook advertising another try…perhaps this time implementing a bit more cohesive strategy.
Dissent Among the Ranks
Yet all is not well within the ranks of Facebook’s loyal user base. Social media management firms are at the front lines of the debate over the good versus bad aspects of sponsored stories and Facebook advertisements in general. In fact, there is a lot of confusion as to which works best, when to use which approach and other common questions and concerns. Is a Sponsored Story more effective than an advertisement on the side of the page? Who is viewing? Which receives the most exposure? Which results in the most activity? Which converts into the most sales? What are others using and why? These are a few of the questions social media managers are being asked on a regular basis and although the answers are available…they are not easily delineated.
What Works, When & Why
The first thing to realize is that each and every account is a bit different so what works for one business may not work well for another. Others are industry specific so it’s possible to create some generalized guidelines to guide a strategy while tweaking for maximum results. Still others are “Plain Jane” approaches that seem to work well in most situations. The key is knowing when to adopt or deny a given strategy. This is where the experience and expertise of a reputable social media marketing firm becomes critical.
By examining the data derived from numerous professional social media marketing firms, a recent advertising agency found that 7% of advertisers are putting the majority of their money into Facebook however, in a somewhat surprising turn of events…the number of marketing professionals using other social media sites has risen dramatically (by roughly 20%) in recent months. In fact, post IPO spending for Facebook alone has dropped by roughly 5x as small business owners and marketing pro’s seek diversification for their advertising dollars.
Most experts agree; the general consensus post IPO is that Facebook is a vital “must have” component of every social media strategy BUT the challenge of finding the right advertising revenue model presents unique challenges. Advertisers aren’t convinced Facebook has it right yet with nearly 90% citing the importance of content over advertising alone as a primary method of reaching out to clients, generating consumer interest and cultivating long term relationships.
The continued volatility and rapid changes associated with the Post IPO Facebook status have led many to understand the importance of diversifying social media assets across a pool of different sites. On the other hand, this is considered a good thing among most marketing professionals. Imagine the “strategy” where a business owner of the past only used a single method of advertising while ignoring all the others…it was nearly unheard of! In much the same way, the reliance upon one single social media site was neither healthy nor desirable; as the social sphere continues to mature, emphasis on diversification and greater specificity creates a win-win for consumers and small business owners alike.
But Does it Work?
Savvy social media readers are probably still asking a single question…does Facebook advertising work? Well the answer is still a resounding “yes”. According to the most recent data, Facebook click through rates are nearly double those of Twitter for both mobile and desktop. Sponsored stories seem to be taking a lead over right-side advertisements which show signs of attrition among the most active users; however, there is one caveat to sponsored stories…a recent lawsuit has all but ensured that users will soon be given the opportunity to “opt out” in the near future once again demonstrating the need for constant diligence and diversification of all social media assets.