There has been a lot of media attention this week about GM pulling their $10 million ad campaign from Facebook. But what does it really mean? It means that GM doesn’t really understand social media. GM’s admitted reason for pulling the ads is that the ads weren’t selling any cars. Did GM really think that people would be sitting at home, keeping up with their friends on Facebook, see an ad and suddenly realze that they needed a new car? Or conversely be in the market for a new car and decide to check Facebook for advice on which model to buy? Naturally neither of these scenarios is realistic and points up GM’s confusion over social media.
Facebook has been saying for years that ads on their site are for direct sales, but for generating impressions. The idea behind a Facebook ad is to drive users to your website or Facebook page. Their ads are intended to promote brand awareness which is very important, but is often difficult to determine ROI. And this is true for the other social media channels, Twitter and LinkedIn as well. (Google+ is a slighly different beast because it leverages Google’s Display Network, which is the same system that serves up ads for GMail and YouTube.) Social media is all about building relationships with your customers, not about selling. If you are too direct, or hit your followers up too often, they’re going to get annoyed, and that is pretty un-social behavior.
So before you start blasting out tweets and status updates and such, decide what return you are looking for. If it is if it is to build relationships with your customers while raising their awareness of your company and its products then social media is a great fit. If you are going straigh to the hard-sell, try adWords or something elst, because the social media channels aren’t going to work very well for you.