They Just Don’t Understand: Why Advertising Fails on Facebook

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The amount of money corporations and marketers have spent to attempt to grasp even just a portion of the potential revenue from the social networking site Facebook, is nearly astronomical. For just about every other avenue, these large conglomerate companies have managed to infiltrate just about every other form of advertising by just slinging a bit of cold hard cash at the guru’s who understand how it works.

In the case of Facebook, it sure seems that “Money Can’t Buy You Love…”

Especially when it comes to advertising. Facebook seems to be such an odd, diverse and interesting collection of people, who are all able to ignore just about all advertising on their pages. Facebook developers have done everything to try and hook users in through games, apps, groups and more, but they just can’t seem to hit that “buy button”.

So what is it that enables to facebook users to get away with only generating only a few cents on the dollar for facebook everyday? They can’t charge, for there are numerous groups of users who have all joined groups suggesting that if facebook ever sought to charge for the social networking platform, that they would stop using facebook.

They also can’t place large annoying adds in the middle of user profiles, for that is one of the many reasons a person chooses to use facebook over Myspace and other networks. It seems as though facebook is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Those who understand how facebook works, are pretty much not talking about it and those who want to know how to infiltrate the potential consumerism gold mine that facebook offers, just don’t understand how things work in the world of facebook.

I’m not promising to offer all the keys to this social networking gold mine, but possibly a few tips that might help you, as a business owner, marketer, advertiser or researcher, to understand the missing links to getting attention from facebook users.

First, lets discuss why millions of users enjoy facebook as a social networking platform.

The K.I.S.S. Method (Keep it Simple Stupid)

If people wanted a complex social networking platform, they would join myspace or yuwie. Many do, but as to recent stats, facebook and twitter are the most popular. One of the largest reasons is because it is some simple. They are losing much of that allure as they attempt to upgrade and enhance their platform, but as of right now they are still the most easily navigatible social networks around.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

It’s a simple matter of getting positive reviews. Facebook may have it’s issues, but “all my friends are on there“, or “I prefer another social network, but there are more people to talk to on facebook“. People go where other people are, which is another big reason so many people are on facebook. It’s the one thing facebook really has over all the other networks, combined with the K.I.S.S. method. It’s simple and everybody is already there. So why leave either? 🙂

You Can Ignore Advertising

It may not be a benefit for advertisers, but it’s a big benefit in the eyes of individuals who are tired of being considered “consumers” and not individuals. We are people, not cows. If you’d like us to buy something, why not be upfront and honest. Why not offer us something we could truly use, instead of fancy materialistic junk we don’t need nor truly have room for. Why not be innovative and creative with what you have to offer, instead of just focusing on how you advertise the same old boring ideas or ‘things’. Facebook also allows for users to rate the advertising they have seen and don’t want displayed on their pages. This is fun and also allows for some census from facebook. There are not a lot of other sites that allow that sort of thing. If offers users the chance to rate the advertising as “Repetitive, Offensive, Misleading, Uninteresting” and so on.

The Games Are Addicting

This is a major reason why so many people come onto facebook. They have these weird and time consuming little games that range in difficulty and taste and allow us to connect with our fb friends through helping each other complete these tasks. There are only a few problems with these games. 1) Eventually you get burnt out of playing whatever games and pretty much stop playing any of them all together. 2) They are time consuming and it’s easy to not go out and live your life when you’re addicted to a facebook application or game. 3) There is a lot of advertising involved. You may want to continue playing the game, but in order to continue you have to pay, since you’ve already invited your limit of friends and completed your list of point earning tasks. It’s a great thing from the point of view from those making money from the games, but it turns into a bad gambling type habit that American’s neither need nor want.

Awe Inspiring

I recently heard a radio news show discussing a poll that asked people why they choose facebook over other social networks and one of the strongest over all reasons was that people enjoyed the “awe and inspiration” that came from networking with people on facebook. In this year of 2010, two years before the anticipated and dreaded 2012, there are many people getting into the spirit. Whether it’s patriotic, conspiratist or just laugh out loud spew milk through your nose funny. People come from all over the globe to be ‘Awed’ and ‘Inspired’.

These are all great things about facebook and as insignificant as they may seem, they are major reasons that many people join and stick around on facebook. We have now looked at some reasons why facebook is so popular, which is why it is drawing so much attention from those who want to market on it, especially those desperate to replace the dying TV and Radio methods.

Now let’s consider some reasons why advertising and marketing has failed on facebook and some ways that it might improve for the capitalist.

Ad Space

As much as I would hate to see facebook filled up with ads and I am sure many users would agree with me, there is still a lot of unused space that could be utilized on facebook. I might be one of the few that goes looking for adds to rate on my page, but I’ve noticed there are hardly ever any ads when I am on my main user page. They generally pop up on the left of the screen during all other activities while doing any other activity on facebook. When scrolling down the page, it always surprises me that there are only three advertisement there. Not that I am complaining, nor would I like to see the entire left side of the page consumed with advertising and I must give facebook kudos for staying mostly ad free, but 6 or 8 small adds on there that could be rated or looked at, wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Format

This is something facebook gets a definite plus on. Making sure adds stay in a small square on a contained and predictable area of the screen. You don’t have to worry about getting blasted with a high flash seizure inducing advertisement when you go to another page. This is something that advertisers should stick with. One liners or compelling images of their products that attract people. Focus on the true value and necessity of what you offer to people and not on how flashy or truth stretching it is.

Getting Involved

I would dare to say that the majority of those who found advertising easy with TV or Radio, are not happy about continually hearing this, but it is extremely important to get involved with the social networking. This is not your grandma’s traditional gathering of people. They are ending baby boomer’s and several new generations. They are savvy and not easily fooled. It’s easy to spot a business that is just there to sell you something, versus finding a real person behind the advertisement, who wants to help you and add value to your life, even if you don’t buy anything.

I have met a few absolutely awesome entrepreneurs, small business owners and marketers who love using facebook to increase their revenue and they have to do nothing more than just be themselves. The truth is, you’re not going to get away with selling junk on facebook. It’s 2010, people can spot a scam when they see one. If you’re trying to market or sell something on facebook, you should be offering a product or services that can pretty much sell itself. If it can’t, that no amount of money in advertising and paying social networkers will enable you to bring in more revenue. It requires more than just the infiltration of the social networks by a paid employee, it requires a caring compassionate person who doesn’t have to lie to make their product look better. Someone who gets involved in others lives as much as they are asking others to get involved in their lives/business.

Use Whats Already There

If you cant beat em, join em. I haven’t noticed very many mainstream marketing utilizing the polling applications on facebook. There are plenty of popular ones that have to the potential to bring in a large census of valuable data, if only you knew how to mine it properly. I won’t give the whole cow away, but I will say that marketers could find more value in their time of posting thought provoking polls that get people thinking, debating and involved.

Offer An Incentive Everyone Wants

This is a hard one, not because it’s hard to tell what people want, but because what people want, changes often. Currently, I would go along with one of two trends. 1) Something that offers independence from government services or adds freedom to our lives. 2) Money.

The second one tends to be easier for most service and product pushers, which can be effective, but only for so long. If the incentive of money isn’t easy to attain and continually getting better for the participator, then it becomes and dull and a waste of time. Offering ways to make real money through rating advertising, talking to friends about products you’ve actually used and had improve your life, getting in touch with other like minded business, taking and creating polls, testing games and applications, writing blogs, notes or reviews. These are all things that facebook users already pretty much do on a regular basis. If they found that they could legitimately make good money doing what they already love to do, without rip offs, scams or truth stretching involved in the middle, then they would be great ways to increase business and to get a foot hold in facebooks unique social world.

If you don’t understand the majority of these concepts, or it seems like to much, or you’re having a hard time implementing these practices in your business, then it might be time to consider a new product, service or idea. Capitalism used to be so much more than just trying to trap or trick the consumer into buying useless things. It used to be about offering products that made our lives better, not lazier. It used to be that the most innovative and easy to attain products where on the “Hot List”, not the coolest new gizmo that hasn’t had any bugs worked out in it and cost more than you make in a week.

Take the time to get involved with the facebook world yourself. Remember what it’s like to just be another person and not just a business owner or advertiser. The sooner you do it, the sooner you will find success. Until you let this concept enlighten you, I’d suggest continuing your research. 🙂

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