You couldn’t have missed the big announcement from General Motors the other day that it plans to stop advertising on Facebook. The timing was especially interesting with Facebook’s IPO around the corner, and many advertisers currently debating the effectiveness of the social network on its marketing efforts.
The announcement was a déjà vu for me, because it reminded me of an encounter I had with a broadcaster very early in my career while an analyst for Frank Magid. As we were planning a research study for a new client, I suggested testing the station’s marketing awareness.
The General Manager flat out told me, “We tried billboards and they don’t work.”
Now I was pretty new at the research process, but started asking questions. What creative did you use? How extensive was the billboard buy? And what was your expectation from the campaign?
(By the way, it turned out that the creative was horrid, the buy was very small, and the manager expected a big turnaround for a station that had problems with both its music and its morning show.)
This is not to suggest that GM hasn’t studied the situation with their extensive analytical resources and their large team of marketers. But particularly when you’re test driving new media, you have to apply a certain trial-and-error mindset, while carefully defining your goals and outcomes.
What does success look like for a Facebook campaign? Are you building your brand, strengthening your relationships with consumers, purchasing proximity on the largest social media network on earth, or selling cars? Or something else?
GM’s arch rival, Ford, rapidly came out with their reply to this decision:
“We’ve found Facebook ads to be very effective when strategically combined with engagement, great content and innovative ways of storytelling, rather than treating them as a straight media buy.”
True fan engagement and communication, or “Katy Perry tickets at 2:15.”
It’s all a matter of expectation.