Five Facebook Advertising Risks
Tuesday, 12th February 2013 at 8:37 am
In last week’s Hot Topic, ntegrity’s senior social strategist Joy Toose gave us four reasons why Not for Profits should utilise Facebook advertising. In this week’s post, she delves into the associated risks.
Last week we looked at why Not for Profits are becoming customers of Facebook advertising. There are plenty of good reasons for this including Facebook’s massive audience, the ability to target very specific audiences and a low cost per click. Despite these features, the true value of facebook advertising remains uncertain. Here’s five reasons why.
Measurement is one of the first dilemmas faced by Not for Profits using Facebook advertising, and social media more broadly. For those organisations with a mandate of education and awareness, reach and engagement may be enough to determine success. However, for those concerned with fundraising or other actions, tracking and measuring this can be extremely challenging. Digital activities often come with an expectation that results will be able to be accurately tracked. Banner ads, the most common digital media usually provide buyers with the ability to see actions for up to 30 days after the ad is seen, or clicked on. Most Not for Profits buying Facebook ads are unlikely to have access to this data, and are seeing a very narrow view of results.
People’s behaviour in Facebook also sets it apart from banner ads and other direct response advertising. Facebook users are logged in, connecting with friends and family. While it’s easy enough to like, share or comment on your post, clicking on a link that takes them outside Facebook is another level of commitment altogether. Some retailers, and more recently Not for Profits (link:https://www.facebook.com/UNICEFAustralia/app_120163934808731), have tried to get around this reluctance to leave, by creating a way to transact within Facebook. As this becomes more common, user behaviour may change, but right now Facebook is still primarily a place to connect with friends and family and not an online shopping destination. As such, transactions that don’t incorporate these relationships, as Facebook gifts do (link: http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/27/facebook-gifts/), are unlikely to take off.
Even with sophisticated tracking in place or in-Facebook transactions, trying to quantify social media’s value through directly attributed actions is likely to fail. Many current attempts to define return on investment ignore the impacts of long-term engagement and interaction with users, which could help keep donors longer, and encourage them to recommend you to their friends.
The loudest concerns about Facebook are over the changes it’s implemented during the last year. Since it went public in May 2012 (http://news.yahoo.com/facebook-ipo-live-social-network-goes-public-123137118–finance.html) Facebook has been heavily criticised by brands and users alike. Brands are annoyed that they can no longer reach their fans organically. After paying to accrue a following for their pages, brands and Not for Profits have discovered they must pay for ‘sponsored stories’ to reach fans with their content.
- But the most serious concern comes from users, who claim their newsfeeds have been flooded with unwanted ads. Facebook has always prided itself on it’s user-centric newsfeed, which used an evolving algorithm to select content a user most wanted to see. This feature, arguably key to the growth of Facebook, is now threatened by a growing proportion of paid advertising (http://www.insidefacebook.com/2013/01/30/ads-in-news-feed-reduce-likes-and-comments-by-marginal-percentage-zuckerberg-says/). Not for Profit organisations will be watching closely to see how this trend progresses.
Facebook’s current challenges are serious, but it has survived many storms before, from privacy scandals to unpopular platform changes. Its access to data, the agility with which it tests and learns and the fact that all your friends are on there, makes it hard to believe those foretelling its dramatic end.
Organisations need to adapt their strategy and budgets as social media evolves, remembering that Facebook is a third-party platform beyond their control. The best approach is to determine what it can give you here and now, rather than relying on it for future return.