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Social media marketing isn’t a science

Published: 12 June 2012

For the past month or so, many a conversation topic and opinion article has been about the subject of General Motors’ decision to pull all of its Facebook advertising. And for good reason. Facebook has arguably been the most progressive social media platform making inroads in the arena of targeted advertising next to Google.

The question is – did GM make the right decision to pull its entire $10m Facebook spend? Or was it a bit hasty? Could it have reassessed its spend to look at ways to make both its advertising and general content strategy work to ensure even better results?

We have reason to believe the answer lies in the latter question (and the answer is - yes), but I’ll get to that shortly. First we need to do a bit of scene setting.

The reality of the world today, is that everything is changing all the time and it is changing faster than many of us care for. This is especially true in the world of marketing and the result is that brands and the companies and people that market them, must be willing to have a flexible, multifaceted approach that uses a number of elements working in unison to achieve an outlined communication objective.

It sounds like marketing 101, right?

Well, it really is much simpler than you think. Assess the objectives of a campaign and decide on the desired outcomes. Then develop a strategy that utilises a number of elements that will best aid in achieving said outcomes. But. And it’s a big but. Be prepared for things to change. Allow for moments of reassessment and measurement in order to monitor progress and then be willing and able to adapt accordingly.

And this is one really great thing about social media. It is about as current a form of communication as can possibly exist, it really does allow for genuine and meaningful consumer engagement and it for clear measurement at any point.

So back to that question and why we think GM should have reassessed its spend to look at ways to make both its advertising and general content strategy work to ensure better results. In 2008, when it was still early days for Facebook, all of its beneficial immediacy and engagement characteristics proved useful and effective in a campaign that GGi ran on the social media platform for General Motors.

Although the platform has seen many visual and functional changes since then, the principles remain the same. And this has made us question GM’s recent decision to pull all of their Facebook advertising.

OK, so we were talking about GM and Facebook in 2008. The automotive giant was about to launch a brand new car – the Opel Corsa OPC - and they needed to launch it with an extremely limited budget. Who better to maximize a limited budget than your PR agency right? Working with GGi as their PR partner at the time, GM briefed the agency to come up with a proposal that would:

? Create talkability around the Corsa OPC launch
? Get the target market to experience the vehicle

GGi then conceptualized a Facebook -centric campaign that utilised a multi-pronged approach including viral marketing, online advertising, content development and management to engage with consumers on the brand’s Facebook page in addition to traditional PR.

OK, so that sounds fairly straight forward, but what made it effective you ask? The right combination of sincere consumer engagement, with an exciting experience and relevant messaging communicated through social media engagement, PR and advertising.

The specific target audience – young, upwardly mobile professional – was targeted via a qualified referrals approach and given the opportunity to win a brand new vehicle for 24 hours. The qualified referrals were reached through paid for online ads, a viral ‘competition’ call to entry mechanism, social media ad placements and corporate user group placements.

Winning consumers were then delivered the vehicle amid fanfare at their place of work. A personal delivery courtesy of General Motors, in front of their peers and colleagues, making them look like the ultimate in cool. They were then allowed to use the car for their personal use for a 24-hour period.

The combination of all the contributing marketing elements, with the attention drawn to the exciting delivery process of the ‘test vehicles’ resulted in significant traffic to the Facebook page, notable word of mouth within the target market and Facebook stats that speak for themselves:

But the biggest coup of all? Besides the fact that the campaign was run from briefing to completion in less than a month?! This campaign resulted in actual sales! Naturally, GM was one happy client.
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