When General Motors decided to stop paid advertising on Facebook, advertisers, marketers and potential investors where left wondering what this meant for the future of the world’s largest social media network.
With an advertising spend of $1.08 billion in 2011, automotive manufacturer General Motors is the third largest advertiser in the United States. On the eve of Facebook’s IPO GM stated that it would cease advertising on Facebook as it ‘doesn’t sell cars or trucks’, leading many to question Facebook’s business model.
I am no stock market analyst, so for me the viability of Facebook’s business model wasn’t the most interesting question thrown up by GM’s decision. Considering the number of people using Facebook the potential benefits for brands with a presence on Facebook are obvious. So, if paid advertising isn’t the answer, how can brands effectively use Facebook to engage with their target audiences?
Social networks such as Facebook thrive due to the fact they connect and allow users to engage in two-way dialogue with friends, those sharing similar interests and the brands and organisations they love. In contrast advertising is all one way traffic, in many cases intrusively exposing consumers to their message in the hope that repetition alone will build brand recognition and loyalty.
When explaining that GM was ending paid advertising but maintaining a page on Facebook, GM’s marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, said GM is “reassessing our advertising on Facebook, although the content is effective and important.”
The key to brands successfully engaging with their target audiences via social media is the ability to provide content that users want to engage with. The most successful Facebook brand campaigns are those that offer something of value all the while engaging the user in a conversation that allows them to feel valued and important.
Check out some great Facebook campaigns here.