There is no doubt about the impact Facebook has brought to the digital world. We now live in a society where we are connected to professional and social networks 24/7. On a social level, platforms like Facebook have tied together billions of people, allowing them to share like-minded interests, even with people who we have never met in person. In the business world, though, social networks operate slightly different.
Social networks are still extremely valuable in terms of engaging with people on multiple levels. But there is a business case that needs to be constantly evaluated – the ability to generate revenue. More specifically, Facebook allows companies to deploy strategically placed ads that work in concert with social engagement. Ultimately, companies must commit to a robust marketing measurement system to determine whether the investment in those ads is paying off. Enter General Motors (GM). General Motors, one of the world’s largest companies and a leader in the automotive space, recently decided to pull its advertising from Facebook.
The company simply felt the strategy wasn’t paying off and the return on investment wasn’t there. But questions were immediately lobbed at the company, many wondering if GM gave up on the strategy too soon. “A social strategy does not come with instant gratification,” said Mark Reino, CEO of Merit Mile. “We see Facebook as a necessary part of branding but you must make a commitment and over time measure that value.” While some understood GM’s decision, others in the business world wondered if the issue was a result of poor execution, or if the company decided it had had enough and truly found little value in the advertising strategy.
The specifics of GM’s marketing measurement and campaign results have not been revealed. Many in the car dealership community shared this sentiment and GM’s competitors jumped in to defend their social strategies on Facebook. If anything, Ford believes Facebook can’t be successful if it is just about advertising alone. “It’s not as simple as taking your traditional approach to advertising and porting it over to Facebook,” said Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Company. “It’s a matter of understanding the platform. Consumers are looking for engaging content, not just ads. Ford is focused on creative ways of story telling and how we interact with people.” The best use of a social strategy falls somewhere in the middle. Yes, companies need to be committed to developing their social plan and community and engaging with their audience in an effort to achieve a return on conversation. But everything companies do in a marketing capacity – whether through advertising, PR or social engagement – needs to be measured and evaluated over and over.