Learning from GM

Facebook’s IPO has come and gone, and while the big story is that there was no big story (save for a mini-scandal), the lead up to last Friday came with relatively few stumbling blocks….

Except one: GM announcing they will be ending their Facebook Ad spend.

Many that follow social media have heard the basic details. General Motors, which invested $10 million annually into Facebook ads, will be ending this endeavor by summer, citing that paid ads on the site have little impact on consumers’ car purchases. This loss of revenue is pennies on the dollar for Facebook (less than that when you consider the site had more than $3 billion in ad sales last year), but it is the perception of this decision that is more important.

The question many have been asking is, “If GM can’t make Facebook ads work, why wouldn’t others pull their spends as well?”
The question we as an agency have been asking is, “What was GM’s goal for the ads in the first place?”

Was it to attract followers and have a presence in their community? Lead gen? Branding? All of the above? Whatever the answer is, different strategies and messages have to be developed and expectations have to be set. If GM’s goal was for people to see their Facebook ad and decide to buy an SUV from them, then their expectations were out of line because any marketing expert (or novice for that matter) will tell you the bigger the ask to the consumer (especially in monetary terms), the harder it will be to have that consumer commit to a purchase.

While GM did not find what they were looking for, many have been working within the parameters set by Facebook quite successfully, and it is because they are first defining what success looks like before trying to achieve it. So look at the GM situation not as a suggestion for your own use, but as a cautionary tale on preparing before investing.


Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


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