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Engage in the Conversation

Why GM And Others Fail With Facebook Ads

The dirty secret social-media gurus won’t reveal is that Facebook likes are becoming a devalued currency. Facebook now receives 1.17 trillion likes and comments from consumers annually, which works out to 3.5 per Facebook user per day. Forty-two million Facebook pages now have 10 or more likes. In a world where liking is as common as blinking, a like no longer signals that a consumer loves your brand.

The third, most glaring challenge regarding Facebook is that most brands stink at maintaining coherent conversations with Facebook users after they are liked. I recently tested a dozen big brands, including Apple (AAPL), Bank of America (BAC), Starbucks (SBUX), and others, “liking” them on Facebook to see how they would respond. I then checked into Facebook 31 times over the next week, each time scrolling back through several hours of friends’ posts, to see which brands would reach out to me. On average, the brands I had liked engaged with me 0.6 times over seven days—an awful performance, given the basic marketing precept that three or four interactions are required per week to trigger consumer response. I liked you, Zappos (AMZN)—and you didn’t return my call.

Finally, personalizing brand interactions on Facebook is difficult. When brands respond to Facebook users who like them, what consumers typically get is a one-size-fits-all promotion for everyone. University of Phoenix (APOL) showed up in my Facebook feed after I liked them; the school offered teaching certification, while my Facebook profile says I work in advertising. Um, no thanks. Pepsi  (PEP) popped up with an extended version of its latest TV ad. Thanks, Pepsi, but if I want your TV spot, I’ll turn on the tube. Liking these brands and receiving this level of “engagement” felt like asking a girl for a kiss and being handed a business card.

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