Don’t Make the General Motors Facebook Mistake

Don’t Make the General Motors Facebook Mistake

It was big news when General Motors (GM) publicly pulled the plug on $10 million in Facebook (FB) advertising back in May, right before Facebook’s IPO.  GM had noted at the time that the cost-per-click ads were “ineffective.”

This sparked a big debate about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising, and social media marketing in general.  Many saw GM’s hasty move as a major mistake.

Since then, we have learned a lot about social media engagement, Facebook advertising, and how to avoid making a GM-sized blunder.

GM claimed that they were not seeing the results of the FB cost-per-click advertising program (website advertising in which advertisers only pay the host each time someone clicks on their ad).

  1. They might not click through, but they can see you!
    First of all, what GM didn’t realize is that while the seemingly small .05% click-through rate (the number of clicks on an ad divided by views of it) of the FB ad (compared to .4% on Google) was not the whole picture.  Just because someone doesn’t click on an ad, it doesn’t mean they didn’t see it.  This is the concept of display advertising.  It’s all about visibility.  How many times do we see an ad for something we like, noticed it, stored it in our memory bank, and moved on?  We may purchase the item at some later time, even though we didn’t click on it and purchase it right then and there.  It got our attention, made an impression, and got us a step closer in the whole purchasing process.  Display advertising is effective regardless of a click.
  2. You need to know what to measure.
    GM was likely measuring the wrong thing.  Simply looking at the click-throughs was not looking at the whole picture.  What about all those FB uses that saw the display ads?  That is exposure, publicity, and it was free.  GM claimed that the FB ads weren’t delivering results, but they neglected to recognize the fact that there were indeed results.  The purpose of display ads is to attract attention from potential customers and spark an interest in your product.  That does not mean a click-through.  Attention, recognition, even interest does not always result in immediate action (i.e., a click-through).  This clearly indicates a lack of accurate measurement on GM’s part.By simply focusing on clicks, website traffic and immediate sales, GM failed to notice important social media ad functions: new followers, higher quality of followers, and getting their brand and message out there in front of people.
  3. You have to earn it.
    Social media is “earned media,” which is favorable publicity, or coverage, that is acquired through non-paid advertising efforts.  Earned media also includes public relations, press coverage, and word-of-mouth.  Earned media takes time to generate.  It is a two-step process that includes attracting and building an audience over time, and then, selling to that audience.  You need to have their attention, interest and trust before they will buy from you.   GM seemed to neglect this important step in the process.Additionally, GM didn’t seem to get that FB is part of a bigger picture.  FB fits into a broader social media marketing framework.  It is important to understand FB’s place in the scheme of things, and how all the other pieces work together.  It needs to be a cohesive system.This is why it is so important to have a well-organized, strategic social media marketing plan.  A well-established, professional social media marketing company can do this for you.
  4. Make a long-term commitment.
    Again, the process of building an audience, or generating earned media, takes time.  Within the bigger picture, there are multiple steps that can’t be rushed through or neglected.  For example, your Facebook following takes time to build, and becomes an ongoing asset for the long haul.  After building and nurturing, it becomes a receptive community for your marketing message.  GM didn’t take the time to foster this growth.
  5. Figure out how to measure ROI.
    GM claimed that advertising on FB was not paying off and that they didn’t feel they were getting enough ROI.  However, they very likely weren’t measuring it right.  As mentioned, GM was measuring return on click-throughs, when maybe they should have been measuring exposure and free publicity.  GM would have been wise to find a way to measure that.It is possible to measure earned media on FB.  You first need to define your ROI.  What is it that you want people to do?  This is what having a comprehensive social media marketing plan will do.  It helps you to figure out what you want to accomplish with your marketing, and how to go about it.