Generation Why: Cool Sponsored Story, Bro

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Video NSFW for language

Automotive News features one of the better breakdowns of automaker Facebook campaigns, minus the breathless masturbatory social media buzzwords that so frequently surround any discussion of “engagement” or “conversations” . The consensus seems to be shifting in one direction; it’s worthless, even if Mark Rechtin and David Barkholz are too polite to say so.

Rechtin and Barkholz cite a few examples of using Facebook to promote automaker brands, but they appear to be outliers, with the most hardcore enthusiasts engaging automakers over extreme niche products. Witness Audi getting 12,000 fans to say they would buy a TT-RS at $50,000 a pop. Aside from the fact that Audi will never sell 12,000 of them in America (or the world), enthusiasts demanding obscure performance cars and then never buying them is one of the oldest in-jokes in the automotive community.

A high number of likes or Facebook fans doesn’t necessarily translate into big exposure for a brand either, as the AN article found

Owen Peacock, Scion’s manager of marketing communications, said that just because a company has 1 million fans, that doesn’t mean all 1 million will receive a company’s update on their News Feeds. Facebook’s algorithms and formulas don’t allow it — unless the automaker pays Facebook a premium

These, of course, are the “sponsored stories” that appear on our profiles, and oft go ignored as we view pictures of our friends’ pets, children, press cars and home-brewed beer. How effective are these ads? I spoke to a digital marketing professional, who put it to me this way; It’s hard enough to sell a car via a billboard or an ad in a car magazine. Selling one via a 90 character, 110 x 90 pixel ad is ridiculous.

Or perhaps “impressions” and “likes” are all that’s available. Facebook doesn’t allow third party tracking of ads, which can show not only who is viewing the ad, but if the ad is responsible for a sale. Marketing professionals seem to think that the only reason it’s not offered is because it would prove that Facebook really doesn’t help deliver tangible results. Facebook did allow it briefly as a beta test, but that program was quickly shuttered.

Ford is launching yet another social media campaign for the 2013 Fusion, and they appear to be sticking with social media despite the dubious results that past campaigns like the Fiesta Movement and Focus Rally have generated. Talking about millions of “impressions” sounds great at a social media conference, but ultimately means nothing. Just remember that Ford, a global brand and marketing machine, got 6.5 million Youtube views spread over 700 videos for the Fiesta movement, even as it touted the 3.4 million “impressions” it got for the car.

GM’s exit from Facebook may have caused a stir among those who believe that social media will bring freedom to the world (or at least make them cooler than the were in high school) but The General’s exit, in light of the new information being gleaned, may have been their smartest move of the year.

Rechtin and Barkolz sum up their article by stating “…the fans are there and engaged. But turning that engagement into sales? That’s the hard part.”

How about “if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense”?

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2 of 22 comments
  • Replica Replica on Jun 27, 2012

    Facebook has adds? Never noticed. I skim friends car pics, drunken exploits, make a few snarky comments and I'm done.

  • Robc123 Robc123 on Aug 31, 2012

    All these FB guys promoting social media, it doesn't work. FB admitted that half of their accounts are fake. they even have FB robots clicking the ads to generate revenue. "The web is the first platform where advertisers can actually track results, and that’s powerful stuff." Typical web idiot 2.0, hey guy, its called sales. That's how advertisers track results, they call it money or revenue.