Social Media Strategy

Facebook is Not Failing Marketers. Agencies Are.

A Forrester Research analyst recently penned an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, in which he claimed that Facebook is failing marketers, citing reasons such as advertiser satisfaction surveys, low ad view percentages, and poor results. His point of view is shaped by feedback from over 350 senior marketing executives in the US, Canada, and the UK that Forrester surveyed.

blog1 At Beeby Clark+Meyler, we see it differently: Facebook is not failing marketers. Rather, marketer’s agencies are failing to help them understand how to use—and measure—Facebook effectively.  Facebook isn’t the problem; rather it is how most agencies are approaching Facebook that is the issue at hand.

They’re your fans, not your servants. One of the points made to show how Facebook is failing marketers is the percentage of fans of a page (defined as people who have “liked” the brand) that receive brand updates. These fans only receive branded updates 16% of the time “organically”, leaving Facebook marketers with having to pay to have their messages show up to more fans. Stop the presses. Marketers must spend money to get in front of their prospects and customers? So, while this may be a change to how Facebook worked in the past, the pay-to-play approach is Facebook’s business model and has been for some time. Facebook, in many respects, shares attributes with advertising options like television or other forms of paid media. People are there to consume content, be entertained, socialize, and the advertising gets consumed (or not) as part of those efforts.  In TV, in print, radio, and all digital options, you must pay to get your ad seen. It has scale.

blog2-234x300According to Facebook’s ad chief, 100MM people log on to Facebook every night.  We refer to this as  “a Super Bowl every night”. Now, that doesn’t mean a marketer gets to reach all of those eyeballs, but that is currently the largest single audience reachable not just via a single medium (i.e. TV, digital) but also through a single provider within a medium. It would be like if ABC were able to reach ¾ of the TV viewing audience each evening.  It isn’t possible to aggregate that large of an audience, that consistently, in any other media selection today using only one provider. Only Facebook can do that. Successful marketers like T-Mobile, Budweiser, and Wendy’s understand the importance of this type of scale audience and are investing. They are reporting record results from their efforts on Facebook, including data that ties Facebook exposure to product purchase. You need great content.

Like any interactive medium, on Facebook the consumer can tune you out at a click of the mouse or a touch of the screen.  That phenomenon is not new to digital and certainly not new to social, where the “feed” reigns supreme, if not fleetingly, when it comes to consumer attention. blog3 Successful agencies, and their clients, know that content that is useful, funny, informative, share-worthy, and socially valuable is not only going to do better—it is a necessity today.  The old stuff, i.e. uninteresting pabulum, does not even get looked at, let alone shared and spread. Great agencies get it and are driving results. See T-Mobile, Budweiser, Wendy’s, Dr. Pepper and others who are tying Facebook spends directly to attributable increases in sales of product.

Others like Ford have found ways to use Facebook to drive better results than they get from their Super Bowl ads. If marketers aren’t having success on the Facebook platform, it’s probably not Facebook’s fault.   It is also probably not the marketer’s fault. We lay the blame squarely at the feet of the agencies advising them. There are way too many great examples, incredible successes, and millions of dollars in sales out there that show that Facebook is not only an incredible opportunity, it is one that you as a marketer absolutely must figure out.


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Kerry Channon

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