The Break-Up: Lessons from GM and Facebook

July 16, 2012 7:28 pm Published by Geraldine Slevin

It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for Facebook and GM over the past couple of months. In late May, the auto manufacturing giant cut the $10 million it spends per year on Facebook advertising, citing a lack of successful results/ROI from its Facebook campaign. Some speculated that GM was too-aggressively pushing the boundaries of Facebook’s advertising capacities (apparently, full-page ads aren’t coming to Facebook anytime soon), while others suggested that the effectiveness of the social network’s advertising itself was itself at fault.

Then, just a few days ago, reports surfaced that GM and Facebook were in talks about resuming their relationship—but only if Facebook could guarantee a proper return on GM’s investment. The pair seems far from reaching an agreement, but one thing’s for sure—the split (and tentative reunion) has prompted many to take a serious look at how businesses can best use Facebook.

The Post-Click, Engaged User
In the wake of this GM-induced panic, some have called for a reimagining of what Facebook can—and should—do for business, including DeepFocus CEO Ian Schafer, quoted on Mashable. “We need to stop thinking about Facebook as a publisher, and look at it instead as a platform… It’s not about baiting people into clicks, it’s about what you do once [users] interact with the ads.”

After becoming a fan of a brand on Facebook,

  • 36% of users wanted to purchase a product more than they had before
  • 49% of those users would “probably” recommend the brand to a friend
  • 43% would “certainly” recommend the brand to a friend

And when the typical Facebook user can reach over 31,000 people by only two degrees of separation, fans of a company’s page can become powerful advocates of its brand.

Marketing on Facebook isn’t all that different from recruiting. What you’re selling isn’t a tangible product—it’s your company, your workplace, your culture. So what can companies looking to recruit through Facebook learn from GM?

The Recruiting Takeaway
They can learn that a good social recruiting strategy requires focus on several different areas—advertising, optimizing your page, generating content and conversation. Ads won’t be as effective without a strong social presence to keep users engaged, and without ads, your page could very well get lost in cyberspace.

In a study on Facebook advertising performance, Webtrends found that brands that are social by nature—such as startups, nonprofits, and media and entertainment companies—see a higher clickthrough rate on ads. If you don’t fall into one of these categories, the key is to create a social space for your brand, and make it something worth talking about.

This post was written by Geraldine Slevin