In Defense of Facebook Advertising

Jennifer L. Cherry
Patrick Sullivan

From the Wall Street Journal to WWJ-AM in Detroit, the entire world knows that GM doesn’t think Facebook advertising is worthwhile. And, for GM’s needs, the company’s strategy is correct.

However, it’s important to note that for millions of other small-to mid-sized companies Facebook advertising is a tool that can make a significant impact when properly leveraged.

But how can that be? Facebook ads allow one line of text and a small image. Not exactly compelling stuff. It takes more than that to convince me to spend $20,000+ on a new vehicle. I might, however, be convinced to buy an inexpensive widget that’s a low risk purchase where I have little to lose.

If I’m looking for a new vehicle, I’ll likely seek them out in the research phase of my search. In fact, it’s impossible to avoid them. It’s easier to tune out an ad for a brand I know and ignore the message.

When crafting a Facebook ad, the organization has the ability to hone in on a particular demographic, including age, location and event-specific characteristics such as “wine connoisseur” and a desire to “travel.”

The ad exposes an audience to a brand to which they have no familiarity. The viewer may be attracted to the ad by the catchy one line slogan, eye-popping image, or because their “friend” likes it already and with one simple click, they’ve agreed to receive updates from a new company, or In short, they’ve become a “fan” of the businesses page.

The truth of the matter is that there are two Facebooks waiting for organizations on the social media site. The first Facebook is populated with well-established companies and everyday household brands. These pages have tens of thousands of fans and a buzzing stream of content. If you don’t know who these companies are, you probably don’t have a computer. As a century-old global automaker, GM clearly falls into this category.

Then there’s the other Facebook, comprised of the vast majority of company pages in existence. Many of these pages struggle to break the ceiling of 10,000 (or even fewer) “fans.” Their content stream often stagnates due to a lack of user engagement and new “likes” eventually cease all together. These are the pages that can benefit the most from Facebook advertising.

For unknown and smaller businesses, this control and subsequent exposure enabled by Facebook goes beyond what they could achieve from traditional advertising. The demographics are much narrower allowing businesses to reach their key audiences and minimizing wasted impressions. THERE ARE ACTUAL METRICS, offering the ability to adjust ads to meet the needs of their audience and optimize traffic, while providing the C-Suite an understanding of the consumers the ads are reaching.

When a “new” potential consumer “likes” a Facebook page as a result of the ad, it is then up to its parent organization to provide compelling content to engage them adequately with the brand and convert them into a paying customer. No one sentence and a photo ad can do that. It’s totally unreasonable to think it could convert an individual into a buyer or brand advocate.

As I’ve said GM is a recognizable entity. If you don’t know them, you probably also don’t own a computer. The needs of this global company are very different from the needs of millions of others. People will seek GM out. They know the brand and want to be / or don’t want to be associated with them already. As such, the automaker doesn’t need Facebook to help them and traditional advertising channels still offer a wide breadth of opportunity to share one-way compelling content and hit home the company’s key messages that resonate with those in the automotive market.

So while Facebook ads may not be right for GM, they help millions of brands/organizations get their start and build their visibility without expensive campaigns. Don’t count Facebook ads out just yet.


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