The effectiveness of Facebook has been called into question. Many have cited the medium’s lack of measureable ROI as a reason for the disappointing performance of Facebook stock. Media buyers throughout the advertising business know the immutable facts: Facebook advertising visits driven to a primary website, bounce at a high rate, generate short, low-engagement visits, and rarely result in ecommerce.
I recently attended the HSMAI Resort Conference in Baltimore to listen, learn and give a 12-minute speed presentation on SEO. At one point the conversation turned to Facebook. The story about General Motors cutting Facebook ad spend was re-told, and the general consensus seemed to be that Facebook advertising wasn’t effective. Measures like click-through rate (CTR) and ROI were sighted as being weak.
But, in my opinion, something was being overlooked. Using metrics like CTR and ROI to evaluate Facebook advertising belies what is really going on in this discussion: Facebook advertising is being compared to search. This is probably natural as the medium is monetized with a pay-per-click model. But in my view this is a fundamental mistake.
Search is generally seen as an activity with high ROI. One reason for this is the nature of analytics which provides a last click analysis: conversions are attributed to the final click in the chain. But people who search have already qualified themselves and are at, or near, the bottom of the sales funnel.
Meanwhile, awareness media are being thrown under the bus. Activities that create brand awareness and focus on the top of the sales funnel are always vulnerable to cuts, as they are far removed from the last click that gets all the credit.
I submit that search—brand search in particular—is misunderstood. While it’s a crucial part of marketing plans, the cost is underestimated: it doesn’t include the cost of creating the curiosity that leads people to search. The real questions are: “Why do people search for your brand” and “How can we create more of it?” Let’s face it, he or she with the most brand search wins.
In the old days, Wannamaker knew that half of his marketing was wasted. And the fact that he didn’t know which half was wasted was a HUGE advantage. Brands that were aggressive before the age of ROI built strong brands with all that “wasted” advertising. And now, Google Organic, dominated by brand search, sits atop their analytics attached to great site visit stats. Organic search does quite well in the ROI department.
I’m not suggesting you don’t continue to measure everything. Measure, measure, measure. But also understand that what is easily measured, is often being supported in a dramatic fashion by what can’t be measured.
As marketers we know the truth: it’s hard to sell awareness media to management because it’s hard to measure. And Facebook isn’t right for every brand. If your sales are one and done, or if there is no emotional connection between your product and your customers, Facebook might not make sense. But if you’ve got a product that customers are emotional about, that they feel a personal connection with, you shouldn’t dismiss Facebook.
Facebook likers are more open to frequent communication than the best email list you can buy. People gladly read (or ignore) daily communication from a page they have liked, while they’ll opt out of a list that sends them email twice a week. Consumers are much more tolerant of frequent communication via Facebook.
The best way to garner likes on Facebook is going to sound familiar to SEO professionals: create engaging content and likes will follow. But if your time is more valuable than your money try highly targeted Facebook advertising campaigns to create likes. THINK about what demo, geo and interest parameters suit your audience and go for it. Drive people to your fan page with the goal of gaining likes.
Facebook is a place where your brand champions naturally congregate. With a little ingenuity, you can engage them and help them pull their friends toward your brand. Sure it takes time and effort. And it’s not free. But neither were years and years of “wasted” brand advertising. If you want people to Google your brand, you’ve got to plant the seed somehow, and Facebook is a legitimate option.
Back to the conversation from the HSMAI Resort Conference… resorts are precisely the kind of brands that people are passionate about. Travelers often find a vacation spot that they love, and visit it year after year. They come home feeling exhilarated and renewed and naturally want to share their experience. Why not give your brand champions a place to hang out together?