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Business - Written by on Friday, November 14, 2008 14:55 - 1 Comment

Denis Hancock
Facebook’s conundrum as they try to woo marketers

For years marketers have been hearing the famous quote that “advertising on TV is like admitting you don’t know who your customers are.” In this light, diverting such ad spend towards things like Facebook seems like a compelling alternative. However, I’m increasingly thinking that “advertising on Facebook is like admitting you don’t know who your N-Fluencers are” – and if you do know who they are, the best thing to might be not spending any money at all.

I stumbled upon this thought as I came across this WSJ article about how Facebook is trying to woo marketers using “engagement ads”. The focus of the article is how, despite it extraordinary popularity, Facebook is struggling to sell ads. These new engagement ads are supposed to help by “blurring the line between marketing and social networks.” They do so by appearing on the main screen when you first log-in, and prompting you to take an action – provide a comment, RSVP to an event, add something to your personal list of events, etc. If you take the action, Facebook then shares a notice with your friends about what you’ve done, and BAM! A viral buzz ensues.

So it sounds great – but it got me thinking. Facebook (and other social networks) are now one of the foundational tools to be leveraged by viral/ word-of-mouth marketers. Sure, an ad on the main page might be able to help with that, and potentially draw in new customers. But at the same time, as I’ve referred to in some earlier posts, many established companies have their own fan pages (and associated groups) with thousands upon thousands of people voluntarily associating with them. Somewhere in these groups, in all likelihood, are the key “N-fluencers” – those who are willing, and influential enough, to spread your message around Facebook if it is attractive enough.

So if your a marketer for one of these companies, might the best play be to spend $0 on ads, and focus your efforts on creating a truly viral buzz / word-of-mouth campaign around your offering? And if so, does this create a bit of a conundrum for Facebook as they try to grow their ad revenue?

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Wikinomics » Blog Archive » Advertising through consumer-generated media - is it a futile attempt to hijack conversations?
Nov 18, 2008 11:04

[...] areas of research is currently around advertising in relation to things like social networks (here, here, and here) and YouTube (here and here). As you can see from my posts so far, I’m not [...]

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