Facebook users are more likely to engage brands that participate in Facebook rather than advertise on Facebook. That’s my takeaway from this recent eMarketer analysis.
As I look through my own Facebook stream, it seems pretty logical. The ads shown on the right hand side are usually of little relevance to me and have no incentive for me to engage, while the content in my newsfeed is entirely relevant.
Facebook ads have had quite a bit of controversy of late. From the timing of GM’s decision to pull its Facebook ads ahead of the company’s IPO, to its newer tact of using your friends in what The New York Times Bits blog underscored as “unpaid pitchmen.” Harsh words perhaps, where the reality is…there’s probably some middle ground.
GM’s story may have grabbed all the headlines, “But the truth is that Facebook ads work better for some businesses than others,” as Ben Kunz wrote in an opinion piece on Businessweek. “GM did what any savvy marketer facing a budget squeeze does – it optimized away from underperforming media channels.”
I’d agree. And the proof is easy to see. Facebook is rolling out a number of developments to enable advertisers to improve the performance of their ads on the platform – it’s what Brian Solis recently called “click to action.”
Brands that curate relevant content for their fans crave are rewarded with engagement. Brands that use Facebook Apps to create relevant deals, coupons or content, earn engagement.
Someone likes a deal offered by a brand – and by virtue of participating – shares and re-shares that deal over and over. This is how Paint the Moon Photography, using a Vocus Facebook app (based on North Social technology), earned 30,000 downloads for their software free trial program.
There’s a theme here, which certainly isn’t new by social media standards. Further, it is proven to work: relevancy and engagement.
I think Kunz is right, ads can work and brands should strive for a mix of ads, content and apps (Whoa! That almost sounds like integrated marketing!), however all of these aspects must focus relevancy and engagement.
Ads are like flashing a billboard in the middle of a baseball game, all eyes are on the pitcher on the mound.
If we as marketers want to get in the game, we’ve got to get out there on deck and take a few practice swings and earn our turn to bat. When we’re finally the next batter-up, instead of pointing our bat to fences in left field, we might point it to the billboard.
That would be controversial but maybe our brand fans would love it.
Images by eMarketer, owenbrown.