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5 reasons brands don’t need to advertise on Facebook

Tanya Goodin
Tanya Goodin
Founder & Owner
16 May 2012

The stir created by GM announcing they’re pulling all their paid ad spend from Facebook, just days before the latter’s IPO, has created more than a few online ripples. Digital Industry commentators and journos are now rushing to get out articles entitled “is this the beginning of the end for Facebook?” and “Is the Facebook bubble over?”

Let’s be clear. Facebook isn’t ‘over’ any more than Google is. Facebook dominates our online world and is here to stay. What IS over I hope are attempts to force Facebook into an ‘old media’ model by agencies and ad men who don’t really get it (and even Facebook execs are guilty of this).

Facebook still offers unparalleled opportunities for brands, but not in the buying of banner ads and sponsored statuses. Here are 5 reasons brands don’t need to PAY to advertise on Facebook:

1. Advertising on Facebook is free if your marketing content is interesting enough.

Mark Zuckerberg created an online world where any brand, regardless of ad budget, has an equal chance to be heard. If you have authentic, interesting great marketing content you don’t need to pay to disseminate it. Set-up a brand page and start telling your story.

2. If you create compelling content that can go viral you don’t need any paid ad spend behind it.

Sure you can pay to ‘boost’ your content with paid ads. But if your content is compelling enough you don’t need to. Look at YouTube – the most viral and highest rated videos aren’t created by the worlds top TV or ad directors, they’re very often low budget, frequently low quality and created by an individual. But they tell a story and they grip imagination and attention. If you can do that for your brand you don’t need deep pockets or big bucks.

3. Your best advertisers are not ad men and copywriters but enthused passionate, authentic, advocates of your brand. Find them and amplify their voices, not yours.

How long do you think brands take briefing new ad teams on their brands? Getting them under the ‘skin’ of their consumers and telling them what their customers think, through focus groups, research and extensive briefings ? All so their ad messaging is ‘authentic’ and ‘speaks the language’ of the consumer. On social networks you don’t need to talk TO the consumer, you need to let the consumer TALK. Find your biggest fans and let them be your ad team – they’re a lot cheaper.

4. Social media can NOT be treated the same way as ‘old media’, entirely different rules apply. Anyone who tells you differently doesn’t ‘get’ social media.

This is not just about Facebook. It’s about all social media. Brands have got to stop trying to fit social into a TV or print, broadcast, mould. It’s not the same medium and they can’t use the same message. Cut the banner ads and the featured tweets and use each platform’s strengths. Encourage your brand advocates to campaign FOR you.

5. The world has changed, broadcast marketing, controlled by brands’ heavy ad spends and ‘one-way’ messaging, has hugely decreased in effectiveness. Facebook offers a never-before-seen opportunity to get directly to consumers & find out what they’re thinking/saying/doing.

Tear up the advertising bibles and your ad spend schedule and spend your time listening instead of talking online. It’s harder work, it takes different skills and it’s not as nice and simple as handing over a media budget to a 3rd party but it WORKS.

All this begs the question, how will Facebook make money if agencies like mine are encouraging brands away from paid ad spend and focusing them on creating compelling content and empowering brand advocates?

I’m glad to say that’s not my problem. All I do know is that Facebook and the myriad other social platforms aren’t ‘dead’ because big brands have found out paid advertising on them just isn’t effective. They’re here to stay and they undoubtedly WILL crack the thorny ‘monetisation’ issue and unlock a revenue stream. Paid advertising just isn’t ‘it’.

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