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16th May 2012

In The News: Why Facebook Isn’t Screwed When It Comes to Auto Marketing

This article was written by our CEO Michael Scissons for A guide for those who sell cars or buy Facebook stock. Yesterday, the US news media sent a powerful message to the world – General Motors (one of Facebook’s smaller auto advertisers from my sources) is pulling their entire ad spend and going to tune out the 900+ million people on Facebook to focus only on their fan base that they can message for free. The big story headline of the day was about Facebook not being an effective advertising vehicle and was deemed by GM to be unable todrive effective messaging. Considering the size of the audience and the frequency in which they engage – seems hard to believe GM is going to prematurely and permanently check-out from the social network paid marketing.  Rather than amazing you with my ability to create charts and infographics worthy of free unpaid spend in your newsfeed – I’ve elected to focus on the factors that would lead to a decision from a company leaving Facebook marketing today and the things that are critical for them to understand to stay and get it right. Facebook marketing for a big brand is hard. It’s even harder in a category like auto, when success and sales come from a well-connected network of dealers who have perfected the art of selling and taken generations of buyers on test drives.  Legacy practices, partners, CRM, and brand tracking, backed by a billion dollar ad budget, tend to create anorganization that can prove results based on what it wants to. But the impact and variability of creativity is hard to measure and almost impossible to attribute to any single channel in a sure fire manner. The real question we should beasking ourselves, before we blame Facebook for GM’s marketing effectiveness – is were they doing it right and were they measuring it right? Auto will be a big spending category for Facebook if marketers can get it right. The silos with the walls of auto are strong. However, I have confidencethat a marketer can break through and turn the opportunity into a powerful company-wide marketing advantage. Here are the areas that Facebook should see big advertising spend from auto marketers who get it right. Brand Marketing: A Casting Call for Great Content: Companies like General Motors spend billions each decade on brand marketing. Television, sponsorships, street teams, radio, digital and outdoor are all part of the “marketing mix.”  The wrong content or idea, across any of these media, renders them ineffective. However, the right concept, properly executed on Facebook, sees ad dollars amplify success – the wrong concepts will amplify failure.  The too oft-cited Old Spice campaign is an example of how Facebook and social media can amplify marketing value, if the right high quality content is present. Great content spreads faster with ad spend – no infographic required. The Real Money for Facebook is at the Dealer Level: This year, Syncapse launched a powerful new technology to help corporate marketers activate their dealers or franchisees at the local level. Why? Successful social marketing, for categories like auto, is local because sales are local. How the dealer and the local salesperson promote themselves and interact with their local community will become a competitive advantage to the companies who get it right. Local dealers and dealer groups alike should be spending money on locally targeted advertising to drive local relationships, events, and test drives. This should be a massive part of the local marketing mix and represent significant global spending. Loyalty & SocialCRM are not #FREE: When a brand publishes a story to its fans and followers on Facebook, it reaches a subset of that audience. The size of the subset, depends on the level of engagement that the community experiences. To reach everyone with an optimal reach and frequency – you need to spend ad dollars to amplify your message and leverage the social graph.  You would never run an email CRM campaign to reach only a subset of your database, why would you do that on social? Measurement Ok, so now you know what to do, how are we going to measure these tactics and hold both Facebook and your agencies accountable, you ask? Brand Marketing:  It’s not about clicks. It’s about developing measures (which we have) that understand and track the reach, frequency, and impact of the message across Facebook and social media.  Paid media needs to drive this – sharing, spreads the content and increases the marketing ROI, provided it is good. If the content sucks, don’t expect anyone to share it and the amplification opportunity is lost. Even worse, if you are not engaging your fans, they will also be lost. Dealer: Once you give the dealers technology and content, understanding metrics, ranging from test drive requests, to event attendance become easier. This can all be tracked and contained in a central dashboard. Loyalty: Facebook will only be one part of a loyalty platform. Product quality, service and dealer experience, among many other factors, all play into effectiveness. Survey based research can help brands like GM understand how much more fans spend on their favorite brands than do non-fans. Remember, even though Facebook’s IPO is looming, it’s very early in the game – their stock will go up and down. They will adapt and shift based on what is working and what isn’t. They will launch new products, some of which will work – others won’t. At the end of the day, it remains important for every CMO to understand Facebook and to think and act holistically, by having an effective paid and earned media strategy for the web platform that hosts900+ million people. In the words from our past: don’t blame the channel – blame the message. Click here to read the full article online.

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