June 25, 2012
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli return to JayVee Media Link LLC
Facebook ads – to buy them or not? Considering how many posts are circulating on both sides of this issue, the choice is not an easy one to make. My views aren’t set in stone just yet, but I’d like to share them with you.
I like Facebook for marketing, and I frequently recommend it to my clients. I especially like the business friendly features the platform added to its pages. But, while I understand its desire and need to generate revenue, my belief is that the push for more advertising goes against the social media site’s core concept. Facebook has always been a place for social connecting, not hard selling. I recommend the platform for engaging with a brand’s current and potential fans; as an avenue to breed familiarity, build trust, and service those fans. With the new, no cost features Facebook has given its business pages it is relatively easy to highlight new products, services, special deals, etc. For my philosophical purposes, that is good enough.
Of course, I will not refuse a client who wishes to advertise on the Facebook platform. And lately, there has been push back against the reports that as a marketing venue Facebook isn’t successful enough to be considered truly viable for businesses. But most of those countering reports stem from one marketing analytic organization, which lists Facebook as one of its main clients. It would be nice to see analytical interpretations done by other associations as well.
The research I have done so far has indicated a proclivity toward unhappiness over Facebook’s push toward monetization via its ads. Some merchants feel the rule changes shift the playing field so that creativity and traditionally successful strategies can be undercut by competitors who are willing to pay for more exposure. Personal profile users are not happy about being bombarded with ads all over Facebook. And some of the platform’s newer marketing systems target users via methods that are more intrusive on privacy than ever before. For example, merely liking a business page can be reason enough for a user to turn up in a “sponsored story.” Also, the platform is using cookies placed on profile users’ computers to track their off-Facebook activities in order to tailor ads for them, as opposed to just relying on the preferences they list on their profiles. This is similar to the methods Google uses for its advertising. Facebook claims that its users have the ability to opt out of this level of intrusion. But how many users on average know how to change their settings to do that? For the general public who wants to connect, socialize and engage with friends, this is a bit too much privacy to sacrifice.
There is also talk that Facebook may eventually begin charging for the special features it now offers to business pages for free. This may happen especially if the platform’s ads don’t generate the revenue for which it is hoping. One recent study actually concluded that more positive response is coming from the free features than from the paid ads. That said, it stands to reason that Facebook might want to push everyone into a scenario where every type of special promotion will cost. I can’t say so definitively, but I believe a move like this will turn more people away from marketing on Facebook – especially when we consider how many new social media platforms are cropping up almost daily. It’s only a matter of time before one (probably more) of them rivals the number of users that Facebook currently has.
While I understand its motivation, I feel that Facebook is trying to make itself into something it wasn’t meant to be. Its current structure plays an important role for its social clients as well as its business pages. Change can be a good thing, but sometimes completely reinventing oneself can have undesirable outcomes. In its quest to procure greater profit margins, I wonder if Facebook may be going too far in a direction its users do not wish to go.
How do you feel about all the new methods for paid ads that Facebook is pushing? Do you approve of this new direction the platform is taking? Will it help or hurt, in your opinion? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Facebook to Debut Real-Time Bidding on Advertising Prices,” by Douglas MacMillan & Jonathan Erlichman, Bloomberg
“ComScore: Stop Bashing Facebook Ads,” by Jennifer Booton, Fox Business
“Facebook Consultant Argues That Website’s Ads Work,” by Sarah McBride, Reuters
“Here’s ComScore’s Massive Report on Facebook Ad Effectiveness,” by Laura Stampler, Business Insider
May 28, 2012
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli return to JayVee Media Link LLC
Let’s move our focus away from social media heavy hitter platforms like Twitter and Facebook for today, and instead draw our attention to the two most promising rising stars in the field: Google Plus and Pinterest. Both appear to be in fierce competition for the spotlight; which will be the victor? The answer: BOTH! While on paper Pinterest seems to have the edge, which one wins depends on a number of variables. Let’s take a closer look:
Google Plus in this corner…
With 20 million users within the first three weeks of its launch and the expectation that that number will reach 400 million by the end of this year, Google Plus is shaping up to be a major social media influencer. It is continuously adding and improving business friendly features, such as live streaming Google Hangouts, which can be used as free webinars, and new photo editing and mobile photo sharing services. And remember that Google indexes its social media platform for higher search rankings. Sites that incorporate it get up to 3.5 times more traffic than those that don’t. 40% of marketers consider Google Plus a prominent component in their social media strategy tool boxes.
…and Pinterest in THIS corner
On the other side of the equation, Pinterest boasted 10.5 million users as of February, 2012. Since January, the number of users has increased by 145%. 80% of pins are repinned, demonstrating the potential for business to go viral with the
platform’s help. Its lead conversion rate is 15%. Pinterest is now the third most popular social media platform (behind Twitter and Facebook), as it refers more traffic for some websites than Google Plus, Linked In and Twitter. Recent studies have also demonstrated Pinterest’s value in generating much sought after quality back links, and hence creating “buzz” and higher visibility.
The Main Event
The preference of Google Plus over Pinterest or vice versa ultimately comes down to issues like the field of business and the type of people in that business’ targeted marketing campaign. Let’s look at some specifics. Approximately 63% of Google Plus users are male; the dominant occupations on the platform are college students and software developers. So think technical. With its system of displaying pictures, as well as the aforementioned addition of mobile photo sharing and picture editing services, Google Plus is also capturing the niche for professional photographers and photography enthusiasts.
Conversely, up to now almost 80% of Pinterest users have been female. But that is a demographic that is shifting toward more gender equality, as an increase in male membership is being noted. The platform appears to be excellent for businesses that are trending – especially when those businesses can promote themselves with strong visual images. Some examples of companies that are doing very well with Pinterest in their marketing tool boxes are Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart, Whole Foods and the Travel Channel.
Both platforms obviously have excellent value and wonderful potential. In the end, the “victor” between Google Plus and Pinterest for me in business will be determined by the specific needs and niche of each of my clients. Who knows? Both may even be in order! For me personally, it’s really hard to say! But I think I would lean more toward Google Plus. How about YOU? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!