Cautionary Facebook Tales from Customer Engagement Marketers

facebook: largest social networkBecause Facebook has an unquestionably massive reach, it presents a tempting marketing proposition for most brands. But those that seek to drive customer engagement through this channel face significant challenges. Facebook is still a relatively new player on the media front, and new consumer behaviors are always evolving right alongside the latest functionalities and modifications continually implemented by this social networking juggernaut.

During a session titled, “Facebook Sucks, Facebook Rocks: Debating the World’s Largest Social Platform,” a panel of experts assembled at Ad Tech in San Francisco to debate the merits of the site. Amrita Sahasrabudhe, Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy & National Promotions at PetSmart, spoke about her Facebook marketing experiences, which have been frustrating.

“Facebook is a complex environment that keeps evolving, and we’ve seen content explosions and channel explosions in the last few years,” said Sahasrabudhe. “So not only do you struggle with making decisions of what’s right for your audience, but when you finally find the right channel, and pay for your audience, you actually loose the organic reach. Then you have to pay again to reach them. That is very frustrating.”

Sahasrabudhe was referring to how Facebook now seems to limit the number of people that will see certain posts. Message relevance, number of followers, and even a host of unknown factors, which are determined by the site’s algorithms, can affect the ultimate reach of any post. Facebook offers to boost this reach, of course, by charging for the extension.

April Elliott Wilson, Director of Analytic Products at RevSpring, discussed similar frustrations while critiquing Facebook marketing.

Excluding, perhaps, the efforts of a few trendy boutiques or various entertainment outlets, most people are not incredibly excited to view the Facebook posts of most brands. So gaining attention and traction requires orchestrating a complex strategy that constantly manages a web of customer segmentation, budgeting, and creative concerns.Customer Engagement and Facebook

“It is typically out of reach for small- to medium-sized businesses and, I think, even some larger businesses,” said Wilson. “Facebook is where the eyeballs are, so most people feel that they have to play there too. But it has also created a cycle of addiction for the advertiser. Because once we’ve raised an audience, then we have to pay to talk to them. And when they engage, our conversion rates go down because the reach is broader. It becomes a cycle where you have to keep paying to maintain the plateau, let alone grow the audience.”

There is, however, a balance to advertising on Facebook. It is just a difficult balance to find. Facebook is still an incredibly powerful advertising tool for some brands, and many continue to find a great deal of marketing success.

Nirali Bhagdev, Head of CPG of Auto and Government Measurement at Facebook, was on hand to support the site’s advertising viability.

“The level of engagement users have with the platform rubs off on the brands advertising there,” Bhagdev said. “People are on their phones, and on their computers, looking at the content, and ads are right there in the center viewport. Ads are not in the side space that nobody is looking at, and that effectiveness goes a long, long way.”

It can go a long way, provided marketers can actually find a way to first get in front of these users. Therefore, customer engagement marketers shouldn’t automatically avoid Facebook as a matter of course. But those who are enticed by the allure of its vast ocean of viewers should at least take caution before treading its uncertain waters.

About the Author: Mark Johnson

Mark is CEO & CMO of Loyalty360. He has significant experience in selling, designing and administering prepaid, loyalty/CRM programs, as well as data-driven marketing communication programs.

Recent Content