Staff Reporters
Jan 20, 2014

Are marketers failing Facebook?

MEDIA DEBATE: Forrester’s controversial report ‘Facebook is failing marketers’ may make some key points, but by and large many experts agree the report was bold and flashy but not entirely true.

L-R: Vuong, De Souza, Mackenzie
L-R: Vuong, De Souza, Mackenzie

Anna Vuong
Media & connections manager
Kellogg ANZ

The point of view put forward by Forrester was quite bold and brave but not entirely correct. I would say Facebook is not failing marketers but rather quite the reverse: I dare say marketers are failing Facebook. Social media marketing or Facebook marketing in Australia is still in its early days despite the growth of social media in the past five years. It’s not a new concept but it’s been poorly understood and used.

I believe that most marketers have forgotten that social media as a whole or Facebook alone is constantly evolving — what we used to do five years ago in digital has now changed, so as marketers we need to adapt and evolve with this changing landscape. If you apply traditional marketing to social media then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Even though Facebook is a channel to reach mass audience and the easiest channel to engage fans, everything comes at a cost! You will not increase engagement without investing in it. The fact is, that you have to pay to engage and a lot of marketers still aren’t willing to invest properly in Facebook, It’s usually only 0.5-2 per cent of the overall marketing spend with relatively weak content plan. Top spenders P&G and Samsung are investing millions in Facebook.

Now, I’m not saying it should be your only spend, but it should be a significant portion of your overall digital budgets. But before you invest you must ask yourself: What role does Facebook play for my brand? What roles does it have within the overall media mix? What is the content and optimisation plan? What does success look like?

Michael de Souza
Mobext Singapore, Malaysia & Vietnam

Forrester does have a point, yet they’ve done themselves no favours by drawing these extreme conclusions, and presenting them as “research”.

It’s a pity because it does  provide some valid criticisms. I’d agree that Facebook, with its massive audience and astounding access to data, consistently fails to create genuine brand engagement. Also, I’d agree that Facebook should be more focused on the quality and structure of its ad service, and about defending its users against irrelevant and intrusive advertising.

To be fair, though, the blame lies not only with Facebook, but with weak and unfocused social media marketers who choose campaign volumes over targeting, and pollute social channels with interruptive “white noise” campaigns. These marketers attract irrelevant connections, chase meaningless metrics, and focus on smearing badly adapted traditional campaign material onto users, with no intention of establishing a rich ongoing interaction. These practices are as much of a problem in Asia as the rest of the world, and they’re compromising the entire field of social media marketing.

Jonathan Mackenzie
Regional head of social media

The report goes too far in claiming Facebook is “failing marketers”. In citing Facebook’s neglect of the “Branded Page” as a reason for their failure, Forrester misses the mark. It is a bit like blaming the internet for having a poor website. As it is, the brand page is vastly over-emphasised. Today’s Facebook challenge is not “how to get people to my brand page” but “how to get my brand into someone’s newsfeed”.

Recent changes have opened up Facebook’s newsfeed to advertisers in a way that would have seemed impossible a couple of years ago with a range of ad formats disguised as “stories”. If a brand is still failing to obtain engagement with its fans then it should review its own content and community strategies before blaming the platform that facilitates it. Like all social platforms, Facebook is still learning where it can extract most value. Contrary to the report it is innovating around data with Custom Audiences and FBX and is striving to serve brands better. 

See also: An earlier column by Thomas Jestin went into great detail about the ways the Forrester report was wrong.



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