Earlier this week, Forrester published a report that basically told marketers they were wasting their time, if they were investing in Facebook. Specifically, Nate Elliot, the principal analyst for the report, stated:
Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunity
That’s a pretty bold statement. To truly dissect this, I think we need to start at the beginning. As with any research, garbage in equals garbage out. I don’t know who Forrester connected with for their survey, but I do know they didn’t speak me me, nor did they connect with 8 of my colleagues leading digital for fortune 150 companies. That, alone, is reason to pause and not simply take the survey results at face value.
Beyond that though, if this “research” had come out 2 years ago, I’d probably be nodding my head. Facebook hadn’t yet solved for mobile, they were constantly making wide sweeping changes to the “feed” algorithm, the Facebook Insights platform wasn’t sophisticated and it was tough, unless you were an Ecommerce company, to connect Facebook efforts to actual sales. Heck, Timeline had just been announced and was slowly starting to roll out.
But, that was 2 years ago. Today’s Facebook is not the Facebook of yesterday. The majority of those challenges no longer exist. For example the partnership with DataLogix enables CPG companies, like us, to understand the impact of our efforts, at the cash register. While Facebook’s team, approach, model, partners and products have matured rapidly, unfortunately the thinking by marketers hasn’t evolved at the same pace. In my opinion, too many organizations are treating Facebook like a direct mail platform. There was a time we were guilty of trying to manage Facebook and social media, as a whole, like we’d managed other more familiar marketing channels. We learned. We evolved. We’ve gotten better. It’s clear, today, Facebook isn’t designed for a spray and pray or blast away approach. Today it’s more scalpel than axe. But, that takes work. It takes effort. And it certainly takes a willingness to rapidly test and learn.
While we can’t share exact results, I can say our results and experience with Facebook, don’t mirror the results from the survey. Our organization’s commitment to getting closer to the consumer and iterative learning through experimentation grounded in insights are helping us make Facebook and other social platforms a business driving part of our integrated consumer plans.
Facebook isn’t “failing” marketers. But, it’s possible those paneled, have an unrealistic viewpoint of what Facebook can do for their organizations. The greatest tension in the ROI discussion always comes from what you expect your efforts to generate and what they actually generate. Before we point the finger at Facebook, or any other partner, we must first look inward and ask ourselves, did we give the organization a fighting chance to succeed? If you expect a $50,000 Facebook fan acquisition test campaign to out perform a $10,000,000 TV campaign, I’d think Facebook was failing me too.
Perhaps, Facebook isn’t failing us, but we, as a marketing community, are failing Facebook.