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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Do Facebook Ads Work?

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The short answer: Yes and no. To many marketers, Facebook advertising is a challenge. Most brands want to maintain contact with their target audience globally, using the most widely-adopted social network - but doing so is more complicated than it first seems. The truth is that most marketers haven't yet been able to prove the success of their Facebook advertising campaigns through verifiable conversion rates, but rather only through an increase in their fan base on the platform.

According to an article written by Ben Bunz of BusinessWeek, Facebook 'likes' have become a devalued currency. 'Liking [has become] as common as blinking, and a like' no longer signals that a consumer loves your brand,' said Bunz. Most organizations do not experience interaction with all of their fans; in fact, most fan interaction is at the other end of the spectrum, averaging less than 1 percent per day.

It's hard to convince business owners and marketers to continue to invest money into Facebook advertising, as they haven't yet been able to reap the fruits of their past investments on the platform. One striking example was the recent announcement that GM is going to withdraw its $10M Facebook advertising budget this year. Why? Among many reasons, including budget cuts, there is a simple one: Facebook hasn't been able to prove that their ads work.

The challenge is due to the low (almost nonexistent, at times) return on investment. As with any other marketing program, the lower the cost per acquisition, the better the channel proves to be for that specific market. The issue Facebook advertisers are encountering is that they have been pouring money into campaigns while experiencing low or zero conversion rates.

I would argue that no marketer can fully attribute a 100 percent conversion rate to any specific advertising program. Even with the best analytical tools available on the market, we can never tell precisely where each sale originated. Think about it for a moment: How many times have you searched for a product or service online and came across a brand that a friend mentioned to you? Or, perhaps you had previously read positive reviews about the company. Maybe you saw or listened to their commercial. To the marketer analyzing that sale, it would most likely be classified as a web conversion. But in fact, it could have been your friend who really convinced you to make that purchase (word of mouth), and the website was only the channel you selected to make your purchase.

The same is true for Facebook ads. You may be a fan of several brands that have Facebook apps and online stores to facilitate your purchase, and yet you may simply choose to walk to a store and buy a product, never mentioning to anyone at the store that your purchase was prompted by a Facebook status update. The store might categorize your purchase as a walk-in, and the marketer in charge of the Facebook campaign would never know that his product post actually worked.

Another roadblock that many marketers experience with regard to social media networks in general is the lack of segmentation. We have all seen posts from our favorite brands that do not apply to our preferences. With traditional direct marketing, including email marketing, we are able to segment our campaigns to deliver the right message to a highly targeted audience. Social media marketing platforms are not quite there yet, which prompts marketers to use the more primitive 'blast them all' approach. Not only is this method ineffective, but it can also make your fans become tired of seeing updates that don't really speak to them. This leads to fluctuations in the number of fans, which we all experience from time to time.

My opinion, as a marketer, is that you can't ignore the power of social media. It is OK if can't afford to advertise on social media platforms - but you should at least have an established presence on them by staying in touch with your fan base. Your efforts will pay off. Perhaps the results may not be as clearly measured as Google's AdWords campaigns, but you can't afford to ignore Facebook entirely. After all, it's the most-used social network on the planet. And of course, as with any other marketing effort, sooner or later there will be a better measurement tool available I'm sure a developer somewhere is working on one even as I am typing this sentence. Just wait and see!

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at

Last modified on Friday, 01 June 2012 16:04


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