Anyone who spends even a little time online knows that things can get heated when discussions on social media sites turn to controversial subject like sex, religion or Chicago v New York pizza. But this week’s big flame war pits Ford against General Motors over GM’s decision to pull an estimated $10 million in advertising off of Facebook because it was generating “insufficient” results.
The timing of GM’s move was “curious” according to one media observer, coming just days before the 800-pound gorilla of media sites was set to launch its much-anticipated Initial Public Offering. That IPO is expected to raise more than $11 billion and set the value for Facebook at $100 billion – more than the current $74 billion market capitalization of GM and Ford combined.
Despite Facebook’s claim to have 900 million members who check in at least once a month, a number of advertisers and analysts have been questioning the effectiveness of advertising on the site – which reportedly gets less than half the click-throughs of the Internet, in general, and barely 10% of the response generated by Google ads.
GM decided to pull its ads after a routine review of its marketing strategy, this week, setting the ad world to Twittering.
Among those quick to post was Ford, which countered its rivals assertions, Tweeting that, “It’s all about the execution. Our Facebook ads are effective when strategically combined with engaging content & innovation.”
It’s not the first time the two makers have been engaged in a marketing flame war. Ford got burned by GM over an aggressive marketing campaign earlier this year. And the two have been ramping up the war of words over their competing “pony” cars, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro.
While there’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek quality to this latest face-off over Facebook there’s also a deadly serious aspect. Online marketing, and social media in particular, has become a critical outlet for the two makers. According to GM spokesman Mike Morrissey, the company now pumps about 30% of its ad dollars into the digital world.
That doesn’t mean it necessarily delivers. And in an interview with Automotive News, Chevrolet marketing chief Chris Perry said that a routine analysis showed advertising on Facebook delivered “insufficient” results. “I think we’ve learned through our experience that the paid advertising is not the best way of activating Facebook.”
That’s not to say the maker is walking away from the social media powerhouse. It claims 8 million “friends” on Facebook when you include all its various pages. It has also had 378,000 “like” its main page.
“Just wanted to let our millions of Facebook fans know, we’re still here, and we ‘like’ you back!” the maker posted on that main page today. “We may not be advertising on Facebook at the moment but we’ll still be talking with you all daily. If anything, we will be providing more content across our many GM Facebook pages — including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac — to keep the dialogue going.”
Ford claims it has 1.5 million “likes” for its main page. The maker has been among the most aggressive corporate users of Facebook and even used the service for the launch of its 2012 Ford Explorer. Does that mean Facebook ads work? Ford social media leader Scott Monty parsed his 140 characters careful when he tweeted that they actually don’t as a “straight media buy.” But they are nonetheless worth it, according to Ford, as part of a broader social media strategy.
Tags: auto news, car news, chrysler facebook, facebook, facebook advertising, facebook auto ads, ford news, gm facebook, gm facebook advertising, gm news, online advertising, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, social media advertising, thedetroitbureau