Facebook use still works to build client relationships

Premium content from Sacramento Business Journal by Debi Hammond

Date: Friday, June 8, 2012, 3:00am PDT

As shown by Facebook’s lackluster stock performance, many companies are questioning whether the popular site is an effective marketing tool. General Motors, which recently cancelled a $10 million campaign on the site, said Facebook advertising had little effect on car purchases.

That may be true for GM — but Facebook does have real value to promote your brand. Business professionals and marketers simply need to know what they are trying to accomplish with it and other social media tools.

Social media cannot be used and measured in the same ways as traditional media. Quite frankly, it’s not surprising that GM cars weren’t flying out of the auto malls; advertising on Facebook is not like running a Super Bowl spot.

Social media sites are not right for the “hard sell.” They’re about conversation and engagement. They’re about creating a more personal connection with your target audience. They’re about building relationships. And authentic relationships can be undermined by a traditional advertising approach.


A mistake that companies commonly make when jumping into social media is to use the sites as they use traditional advertising tools like a full-page print ad, a television spot or direct mailer. Simply put, a company cannot advertise its way to success on Facebook.

What a company can do with social media is create amazing content that brings your brand closer to your target audience in a meaningful way. Great content can be anything that benefits, entertains or teaches your target audience, including images, videos, recipes and tips. A combination of advertising and great content can work quite well, but you have to be clear on what it is you are trying to accomplish with your social media program.

One of the great benefits of social media for small businesses is the low cost of entry. Unlike traditional media, where huge outlays of cash are required, social media requires more in authenticity, consistency, and engagement. But don’t be beguiled into thinking it’s free. The investment with social media is longer term and requires a consistent financial investment.

Although GM pulled its $10 million advertising budget from Facebook, the company continues to invest heavily in content development — close to $30 million a year. This is not to say that small businesses need $30 million marketing budgets for content, but it is to illustrate that social media — whether advertising in it or not — requires a meaningful investment.

Whether a company chooses to use Facebook as an advertising platform, a pure social-media platform or a combination of the two, with more than 900 million people now using the tool, Facebook is still one of the best places for your brand.

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