The GM and Facebook advertising saga is an interesting chapter in college marketing but also foreshadows the relationship between advertisers and consumers in college marketing as well as the mainstream.
The latest news on GM and Facebook is a microchosm of social media versus traditional media. This particular case is interesting because GM also happens to be one of the biggest spenders in college marketing and being a fairly old company, comes from the camp still thinking in terms of traditional advertising and metrics.
I must admit that I have been telling clients for some time that Facebook ads, relative to college marketing, were a waste and simply not effective as they are contrary to the Facebook user experience. College students go on Facebook to connect with friends and ads really get in the way. Now we have GM coming out and basically saying the same thing…or so we thought. Ad Age published a recent article by Cotton Delo, Big Spenders Push Ad Line, But Facebook Holds Ground, which brought to light an interesting dynamic,
“…the automaker’s team asked whether it was possible to run bigger, higher-impact ad units than the current offering, according to people familiar with the discussion. Advertising on Facebook has always been subtle. But GM wanted to do something bigger. To GM, Facebook’s audience was interesting; its ad formats were not.”
This really suggests that GM sees the value of Facebook and the number of eyeballs they bring to the table but doesn’t like the Facebook ad model. They would rather Facebook adopt to them and present ads more in line with what they are used to running. In response, according to Delo’s article, VP-Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, stated, about Facebook’s advertising viability, that:
“Facebook’s value as a marketing platform is in social ads, where brands get their fans to spread the word among friends and brands pay to extend the reach of those endorsements. ‘Marketers that don’t quite get that those are the two fundamental pillars that make us different often will refer back to the formats that they’ve been used to over the last couple decades,’ she said.
This speaks to the very concept that I have being trying to communicate to clients since Facebook came onto the college scene which is that Facebook, and social media in general, is not the “rubber stamp it” type of advertising where big budgeted companies can simply write a check for a massive ad buy and corner the market. The reward will go to the company that uses Facebook as a place where student social influencers can reach out and post to their friends, creating an organic and natural dialogue about your brand and what else is going on in terms of promotions on their campus.
Facebook provides the perfect solution to facilitate this college marketing strategy if presented to students properly and supported on campus by other branding (i.e. college posters, college newspaper ads, flyers on campus, college brand ambassadors, etc.).
To learn more about reaching college students, download our College Marketing 101 whitepaper.
Click on the following link to read Cotton Delo’s Ad Age article, Big Spenders Push Ad Line, But Facebook Holds Ground