What could be a more powerful marketing tool than Facebook, fostering meaningful engagement with customers and broadcasting their every purchase to friends and family? Actually, just about everything. Facebook sucks for marketing.
A new study by Forrester Research found that maintaining a Facebook presence is less effective at drumming up business than plain old email newsletters or search ads. Companies interviewed for the study "received little benefits from Facebook," according to the Wall Street Journal. Another recent study found that even print ads were better at fostering consumer engagement with brands than a Facebook page. Hundreds of thousands of people may "like" a brand's Facebook page, but they don't actually like it.
The main problem is that Facebook treats brands a lot like people. So when you "like" a brand's Facebook page, your newsfeed fills up with corporate adspeak, drowning out important news of what childhood friends' babies are up to and resulting in an uneasy sense of foreboding: It's disconcerting to see "Ford Motor Company" congratulate random people on their marriage in your newsfeed; did Henry Ford rise from the grave and bless their union, or the board of directors, or what? As one researcher told the Wall Street Journal: "You go to Facebook to find other people, not to find a product."
And while Facebook treats corporations like people, it reduces all human connections to equal-opportunity selling opportunities. Facebook claims its social e-commerce system helps businesses tap into people's Facebook networks and sell stuff to their friends. But if your ex-girlfriend buys tickets from Ticketmaster so she and her new, hotter boyfriend can check out "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway, seeing that pop up in your news feed will not instill a burning desire to see the show yourself. Relationships are messy in a way marketing shouldn't be.
Turns out Facebook is not the advertising panacea everyone was hoping it would be. Oh well. We hear blogs still sell ads!