Stop blaming Facebook for your problems
Firsthand experience suggests the site is an effective advertising platform. If a promotion doesn't cut through the clutter, whose fault is that?
There's no better case study in the tendency to blame external forces for our mistakes and shortcomings than the dysfunctional relationship between large swaths of the public and Facebook (FB).
We've got endless examples:
- You're a retail investor who chased Facebook's IPO because you have a page on the site. The stock tumbled and you blamed everybody except the person who hit "buy." (While foreseeing long-term success, I recommended resisting the hype surrounding the IPO. That's almost always good advice.)
- You're Mark Cuban, a wildly successful and otherwise brilliant man, yet you dog Facebook for structuring its advertising like TV and radio. Pay more as the size of the audience you reach increases? What a novel idea.
- You're General Motors (GM). Unlike Ford Motor Co. (F), you have no clue how to use social media properly to market your vehicles, but you blame Facebook, exonerating yourself in the process.
In each of the above-mentioned scenarios, blaming Facebook is the easy answer. It allows us to ignore the highly complex bigger-picture issues we need to address about IPOs, stalkers, bullying and privacy.
The same goes for companies that complain about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising.
As the director of social media at TheStreet, I am increasingly aware that if you can't make social advertising work, you're the one with the problem, not Facebook, Twitter or one of the other platforms.
No such thing as an 'expert' on social media
Even though Facebook's stock is on a roll, concerns over the company's ability to deliver for advertisers remain a key component of the bear case on the stock. This shouldn't be.
First, we have not compiled enough observations, particularly on mobile, to come to valid conclusions.
Facebook has most of the meaningful data that could actually help determine how well its platform serves clients. No one else has that information. Moreover, there's no such thing as an expert on social media. It's too new. If somebody tries to tell you they're an expert, call them a poser, because that's what they are.
Second, even if data shows Facebook doesn't work, how do we know it is Facebook's fault?
Advertising and marketing campaigns fall flat all the time. It happens on television every day. It will happen to more than a few companies later this month at the Super Bowl. They'll blow millions of dollars on an ad that doesn't resonate. Should they blame the platform or take a look in the mirror and wonder if they could have done better as a creative organization?
Content ultimately wins these battles. If your content -- be it a 60-second commercial, an article, a radio spot, a picture or a Facebook-promoted post -- doesn't cut through, it's your fault. When something I put dollars behind on TheStreet's Facebook page falls flat, I blame myself. Did I choose the right article? Did I word the post properly? Did I target the appropriate demos? Am I posting too frequently? Am I not posting enough?
A credible presence
To tell the truth, Facebook advertising works for TheStreet more often than not. And it works for Ford because, unlike GM, Ford gets it. As Ford spokesman Scott Monty told me, "You just can't buy your way into Facebook. You need to have a credible presence and be doing innovative things." The automaker allocates more than 20% of its marketing budget to digital and social media.
You don't use Facebook to sell widgets; you use it to get in front of people, who like what you do as well as the ones who have no idea that you exist.
So, if you're looking at the stock, don't let the "Facebook might not be an effective advertising platform" meme keep you away. It can be effective. I know this firsthand.
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through it is totally out of control. Nearly everything on the net is connecting with it. Why can't the obvious fault in that be seen is beyond me.
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