If Content is King, Context is Queen. Three tips for GM in wake of their suspending Facebook Advertising

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Modern Marketing
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May.16.12

GM recently announced that they have stopped spending $10M a year on Facebook ads, . It is a drop in the bucket for GM ($1.8B ad spending) and for Facebook ($3.7B in annual revenue, mostly from ads). There is a lot of attention to this for a variety of reasons, first GM made a point to announce its move, second it is two days before Facebook IPO, and third it is another noteworthy example of a large brand not meeting their expectations in social advertising. Most marketers ask themselves a number of questions from this news, such as the following:

  • “What ads and offers is GM placing on Facebook?” 
  • “What type of audience is on GM’s brand sites, who are they targeting?”
  • “Who is most effective in their industry on creating advocates, eliciting engagement, and leveraging that to drive brand value and ultimately sales?”

Haydn Shaugnessey of Forbes.com wrote an informed post on some of these questions providing insights to both Facebook and GM.  If I were to have a conversation with the in house social ad team at GM, I would enjoy these discussion points with them:

1. Context is married to Content
Facebook provides the ultimate opt-in, personalized communication tool for users to interact with each other. Facebook has set expectations through a clean, clear, consistent user interface (opposite of MySpace) that your personal view is contextual to you – your friends, your news, your events, your brands. Broadcast messaging is not effective in Facebook. In a B2B world, the concept of marketing automation, marketing to a particular audience segment based on their current interest in the brand, product, service is well known. In brands like GM, that has not been widely adopted.

Advice to GM: Change your strategy to develop your social baseline, social funnel, and map your engagement and advertising strategies accordingly.

2. Measurement Matters
Social networks provide tremendous resources for testing marketing messages, A/B measurement, and figuring out the value of the content the brand is producing and its audiences are generating. Every marketer knows that content is king, and we have seen in many examples (Facebook/Instagram as one), that great content drives engagement. The best brands are able to segment their social audiences from the ones who are engaged to those who are passive, and have measurable content strategies to elicit behaviors across those segments.

Advice to GM: Segment your audiences, score your content, find out what messages will work first through a brand page previous to ad campaign execution. To set a baseline – measure before your campaign and compare yourselves to competitors throughout.

3. Social Gold
The most effective marketing is still word of mouth marketing. Testimonials from influencers and brand advocates are the engagement prize that marketers are looking for. The challenge is how to generate and leverage these testimonials. Once a brand is able to provide the right context of ads, understand their audience segments, and measure what content elicits engagement, the ability to leverage the testimonials across channels is critical, in this case it is likely the dealer network for GM.

Advice to GM: Focus on testimonials as the ultimate marketing tool on social. This can happen through effective contextual ads and a great content strategy. The leading brands in social are using both.