As Facebook prepared to launch a much-anticipated public offering, GM announced that it was discontinuing its use of Facebook ads. If you haven’t heard about this already, you haven’t been paying attention! Now, I’m guessing GM is a pretty savvy organization with a lot of pretty savvy people monitoring its advertising spending. At reportedly $10 million a year for Facebook ads alone (which apparently may be a big # for me, but not so much for Facebook in the big scheme of things…), if marketing staff aren’t able to demonstrate value it seems logical to pull back. Facebook doesn’t seem worried, and their IPO seemed to go off as planned (at least initially, some recent media coverage suggests otherwise).
I’ve watched, monitored, commented, written and spoken about all of the hype related to social media and have admittedly been “on the fence” in terms of the value of sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, now, Pinterest. I somehow intuitively believe that there must be some value, yet as someone who is highly committed to delivering measurable results, I’ve not 100% sold.
GM’s recent move reminds me Hans Christian Andersen’s old story The Emperor’s New Clothes. A vain emperor is tricked into thinking that he’s been decked out in the finest garb by weavers who actually provide no clothing at all. There is no there, there. Nobody points this out of course. Who is going to be the first to suggest that Facebook (I mean the emperor!) could be wrong? Until, that is, a little boy announces the obvious.
GM isn’t the only company to question the value of its online advertising efforts. NPR also recently ran a story about a much smaller company – Pizza Delicious – and its experiences. It provides a good contrast. After all, I could easily understand why Facebook might not be such a great place for an automobile company to generate measurable results, particularly over a short period of time. A pizza restaurant, on the other hand, would seem to be well poised to generate interest and action through locally targeted Facebook ads.
Fortunately, their owners weren’t ready to just believe and follow the masses, so they did some research of their own.
I have to believe that GM’s move is not going unnoticed by other large, and small, companies. I’m guessing that more and more board members, CEO’s and small business owners are going to have a heightened awareness and interest in demonstrating real, bottom-line, differentiating value from their social media vs. other communication efforts.
What do you think?