If Mark Cuban is right, you should rethink your Facebook marketing strategy.

The post Mark Cuban wrote last week about Facebook really resonated with me.  I can’t get these words out of my head:

People go to Google Search with every intention of leaving it. They want to “engage, click an

Cuban was actually ranting about Facebook’s new policy of charging brands to reach the followers they’ve worked hard to collect, but that’s a different story.  What I can’t stop thinking about is:d leave”.  On the exact opposite side of the spectrum, people go to FB with the expectation that it is very likely they will stay on FB for an extended period of time. In fact we spend more than 26 minutes per day on FB. As this study said, FB is an alternative to boredom. FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search.

If Facebook is like TV, should our Facebook ads act more like TV Ads?Is Facebook advertising interruption marketing?

I disagree with Cuban that Facebook is just a time-waster; people spend time on the network to connect with family and friends, for entertainment, for product reviews, political discussion and for a zillion other reasons.  We ENGAGE  on FB; it’s a whole lot more than just plunking your rear down in front of Jersey Shore for some good old fashion television escapism.  Watching  TV is a passive experience, unless you’re in my family and you enjoy shouting at Jeopardy.

But Cuban’s right, using Facebook is not the same as searching on Google.  Your Facebook follower is not on the network to seek out a product; flashing PPC ads won’t work – they’re far too intrusive.

So, if we agree that a Facebook user is engaged and interacting, unlike TV, but not specifically ‘shopping’ for something, like someone using search, how do you craft an effective post to grab their attention without being annoyingly intrusive?  And that is the $64,000 question.

The answer: differently than either TV or PPC.  I know, some help that is, right?

It’s a difficult question to answer because there are a whole host of additional questions that have to be answered before you even begin to get creative:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • Are they on your page?
  • What other networks do they hang out on?
  • What problems can you solve for them?
  • What are their biggest complaints about what they’re using now?
  • What have they reacted to positively in the past?
  • What pisses them off about Social Marketing?

Creating any effective ad is tricky, difficult work. Crafting an effective one for Facebook can be even more complex because the space is still so new and ever changing.  The honest answer is that you really have to know your customer to get it right.

  • Ken Mueller

    Good stuff here in your analysis, but Cuban is wrong on a lot of counts. He doesn’t get it because he is approaching it with the wrong mindset. And the numbers about Facebook in that Huffington post and a lot of the studies are seriously skewed, and leave out some important information. I thought this article was pretty good in assessing Cuban’s statements: http://pagelever.com/fact-check-why-mark-cuban-is-wrong-about-facebook/

    I think with the right strategy, the right (minimal) expenditure, Facebook can be an incredible part of a fully integrated marketing campaign. Dang, i feel a rant coming on.

    • AmyMccTobin

      Oh.. I know he was outraged about having to pay for access to his own fans… but I was zeroing in on the “FB is more like TV than Search” statement. It’s thought provoking, although not accurate.

  • Great analysis, Amy!  I think his point about the similarity between Facebook and television is resonant not only because there’s evidence that one replaces the other in free time expenditure, but also because of how people respond to advertising.

    To Ken’s point, I think that Pagelever article perpetuates the social mythology of Facebook which is that it is good because lots of people use it.  I think Cuban’s point about Pagerank is important – what’s the point of spending money to accrue fans if you just have to pay everytime you reach them?  Jason Falls left a comment on that post which intimates that Pagerank is tantamount to blackmail, which is probably appropriate in the context of the original promise of Facebook Pages.  But that aside, businesses do have to pay for reach and the question of whether that is a practical use of marketing dollars is valid.

    Cuban is a bit of a hot head and his words (like “time waster”) are meant to be provocative, but the core of what he’s saying resonates because he’s talking about a general degradation of user experience and of change of their marketing tools.  

    • AmyMccTobin

      I understand his rage at FB for the pages – and with the ruling on Twitter today it will be interesting how this pans out. Lots of business spent lots of resources building their fan base only to have FB hold it hostage.  

      But I was more fascinated by the Time Waster comment, and how it IS not like search. But it’s not like TV either, not really.  It made me think hard about the mental state my followers are in when they’re on the network… and when someone makes me think it’s a good thing.

  • I think Facebook is toast if they don’t redirect in six months, seriously. Welcome to the big blue dwindle.

    • AmyMccTobin

      I don’t know Geoff… this paying to reach your own fans is definitely a huge issue, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed course.  And, when you say it’s going to be toast, for whom?  For big companies spending $$ in there? Making FB less profitable?  I can’t imagine 1 billion people just leaving… for so many it’s a communication tool.  Maybe not for us – the marketing geeks…. but most of my friends on FB use it purely socially.