JanRezab / Blog

Founder & Executive Chairman of Socialbakers.com

Facebook is not failing marketers, some are just failing at social marketing

Published: March 25, 2014


Dear jury, today I am about to make a few arguments for social marketing and its future. These days, its probably really cool and trendy to say: Facebook is failing marketers, or his latest click-bait – Facebook is failing marketers again by  Nate Elliot  from Forrester (to be honest, if it was anyone else, I respect an opposing decision, but coming from a research company as reputable as Forrester on its official blog post, it could prove most of it using data points, but of course, that can’t be proven, because many is not true).

As we at Socialbakers disagreed with teens are evading Facebook (ergo some people on a witch hunt trying to find whats wrong with Facebook), and proved it with hard data, the real story is and was that teens are now using more apps, as its becoming increasingly easy to multi-task even between apps (I would also associate that with the evolution of simplicity to switch between those apps on Android and iPhone). Today, we are going to make the same point for all the nay-sayers of social advertising.

The negative opinions mostly used around Facebook and social advertising in general and my argumentation that I use when talking to social marketers.

Opinion 1: There is little organic reach!
Where is this a problem of advertising on Facebook? People say Facebook decreased and tweaked its algorithm. Well, these people don’t know what they are talking about. Do you think someone put a line of code: If this is a branded page, then don’t show? No. Clearly, they didn’t do that :) Its primarily the users behavior and the brands behavior that has changed. Users follow more pages, brands send more posts/content. Do you really expect organic reach to grow under these circumstances, even be flat? Impossible! And of course, there is more and more paid reach, which will, logically, get preferential serving -> the more paid there is, the less organic there will be. But there will have to be some organic, because Facebook must then know how to allocate some level of efficiency. Interesting data that we are actually seeing is that yes, brands get less exposure, but many other things like sports, media, and others get as good if not better exposure. I wouldn’t simply say: Facebook cut organic reach! No, Facebook improved the algorithm to be serving more relevant content to whom it matters the most – to users. And its up to the brands to, again, post relevant content and boost it to the right audience. Many pages are reporting organic reach actually up.

Opinion 2: There are fake fans + There are fake click bots
Yeah, and there are fake ad bots on Yahoo, Google, and everywhere. In every eco-system, there will be something fake. Thats why at Socialbakers we built the Fake follower check for Twitter for example to show some of the basic bots (now, the bots are getting more sophisticated). But to be honest you can always tell if its a bot or a real user in the end, and if I look at the biggest ads running in the world, they just don’t have that problem. Wall Street Journal runs an article today: A ‘Crisis’ in Online Ads: One-Third of Traffic Is Bogus. Doesn’t seem like this is a specific problem of 1 platform as described in the “Facebook Fraud” video. Yes, there are users that you acquire as fans, who are later inactive with your page. Yes, this is a problem of several relatively big countries where ad bots can hide out. If you target your advertising, you will be fine (more fine than anywhere else). We ran the logic as described in the FB Fraud video, and didn’t reach the conclusion that this would be a system-wide problem for all advertisers (its very specific to ones that don’t do it well).

I would like to present my evidence and put it in points on why Facebook advertising is working:

Point 1:  Small businesses rock – Sheryl Sandberg recently said that in the US, majority of Facebook ads are from small and medium businesses. If you are a small business, I believe you don’t repeat advertise unless you actually have ROI.

Point 2: E-commerce invest more than ever – Ecommerce and retail companies invest more than ever on Facebook. Would they really still keep investing if the returns weren’t there? In the commerce world, Facebook doesn’t really count as brand or image advertising, so either it generates revenue, or nothing.

Point 3: Mobile revenue ROI positive – More than 50% of Facebooks users are now on mobile. The ROI on mobile for app makers creates and entirely new ecosystem, allows companies like Supercell to work super well and acquire users still for a very affordable price! Great way to seed apps and games. These companies make hundreds of millions on acquiring these users.

Point 4: Facebook advertising is still cheap! Yes, I believe its extremely cheap, and sooner or later, the competition for specific target audiences will start increasing and logically so will the price. Its a market that will regulate itself by demand and supply

Point 5: All ads are better if they’re social – An ad is simply better if its social. This is a fact, all companies know that if you place ads in social context, they will work better. Why do you think Google is planning to launch its +Post ads on GDN (Google Display Network)? I already said that a majority of digital ads will be social by the end of this year. I stand by that statement.

Point 6: Efficiency of other platforms – Efficiency of TV ads, radio ads, and others and its measures are not being questioned at all, yet social is being put under a microscope. Many TV ads are being skipped, being ignored, used as bathroom breaks, and we don’t really know a lot about the % loss, and we are talking about “big” problems

Point 7: Facebook is an evolving platform – For many marketers, the fact that Facebook and social media constantly evolves might be irritating. But I have seen very little changes to the worse.

Dear jury, concluding my points, yes, I believe if you look at both sides, Facebook and social advertising in general works, and who puts in false titles like: “Facebook is still failing marketers” should have much better data to prove it. Not hearsay from a few marketers that know little about the subject, or people that just spent little on ads, but a deep survey understanding the dollars, who spent them, how they spent it.

Now you could say Jan, you are motivated, you make money on advertising on social media. Of course we do! But more so we actually make money on our clients making return on activities they do with social networks and with us. For my business to work, I need clients to be with us for years, meaning, if social advertising doesn’t work for them, we have got a big problem.

Again, back to the “Facebook teens going away” (but actually being there) – as I said the story was actually in something else. The real story was: Users now multitask more (and maybe Facebook isn’t so cool for teens – an image issue, sure). So in my case today, I explained why I think its not what some analysts and media are saying. What I really see here is an entirely different problem, which is: For many advertisers, social media is still extremely new, and they don’t spend the money effectively. If you put a TV ad in a completely wrong audience on the wrong program, you can blame the TV, or you can blame yourself. So please, don’t blame Facebook for spending your money wrong, its how you spend it, how you use it, how you understand all the underlying metrics and data – then you can truly say: Facebook works for me / or it doesn’t. But most companies that we work with at Socialbakers, when they went on the walkabout of truly understanding their social ROI and optimizing it to its best, I would rarely see them failing to find it.

Photo cited from WSJ by David Plunkert

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