Why you Should Not Run Promotions on Facebook: Upcoming IPO

You see promotions all the time on Facebook.  Leave a comment on this status update and you might win a box of widgets.  Upload a photo of your pet lizard to our page and receive a box of crickets (yes, folks, lizards LOVE to eat crickets—just make sure the blasted things don’t leap out of the cage).  “Like” this post . . . .

I, for one, do not believe you should run promotions on Facebook.  You may wonder why.

By connecting us, Facebook has created something of value.  Over the last few years, Facebook has built a $3 billion-a-year advertising business by convincing major corporations like Ford, Kia and Procter and Gamble to pay for page space.  In turn, Facebook helps these companies generate buzz for their products.

Although still recovering from my stint as a big firm lawyer, I read the Wall Street Journal every day.  On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, the Journal ran an article titled,  The Big Doubt Over Facebook.”  According to this article, $1 million buys Ford 125 million views or user impressions.  The same investment on American Idol would buy only 2 30-second ads.

Photo Credit: AutoGuide.com

Ford researched how social media campaigns boost sales.  By using Facebook instead of TV ads during the Super Bowl, Ford increased shopping activity for their 2011 Explorer by 104% instead of the customary 14% increase that follows a Super Bowl television campaign.  Ford makes a strong business case for Facebook advertising.

The big question investors face as the planned May 18th IPO approaches relates to valuing Facebook.  Is Facebook worth the $86 billion valuation it is seeking?  After all, Facebook has 900 million users.  It stands to reason that Facebook’s reach will result in a profitable advertising business—right?  Honestly, no one knows.  I will wager, however, that this question keeps Mark Zuckerberg awake at night.  After all, a recent Forbes article values his net worth post-IPO at $15.5 billion.

Forbes Image: Mark Zuckerberg

A lot of money is at issue here.  Facebook stands to gain or lose billions of dollars as a result of which ads its users view.  And Facebook alone controls how advertisements run on its pages.

Oh no, you cry: free speech!  When you are on someone else’s website, you must play by the website owner’s rules.  We play in Facebook’s sandbox for free.  In that sandbox, we are part of the greatest conversation the world has known.  Facebook has created tools to facilitate this conversation and it has cost the company a lot of time and money to develop these tools.  I know I have benefited immensely from the friends I have made and the thoughts we have shared.

In exchange for this, I know I am part of Facebook’s product.  Advertisers pay Facebook for a chance at catching its users’ attention.  Promotions run by a page divert that attention and dilute Facebook’s product. When you created your account or your Facebook Pages, you clicked “okay” after you skimmed your user agreement. In return, we agree not to do certain things.  Anna Gervai has written a helpful article on these rules as they relate to running promotions.  Personally, I have decided not to try to navigate these rules.  Instead, I will continue to participate in this great conversation.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

9 Comments on “Why you Should Not Run Promotions on Facebook: Upcoming IPO

  1. I didn’t know you were a big firm lawyer! Me too. I love that you still read wsj. Impressive. I hate the ads on Facebook. I like that you have looked into this issue.

    • Now that is too cool Outlaw Mama!! I love ex-lawyers (and am married to a man who still loves practicing law) and yep, I still love the WSJ (grinning because this is weird, I know it). LOL. The ads on FB sometimes annoy me and sometimes crack me up! Thank you my friend!

  2. Interesting thoughts, El. I think of my page as “MY” page, not as an extension of FB’s site. I’ll now think of myself as a guest, there at FB’s invitation.

    • Thank you Lisha! And ::sigh:: I know. I thought my page was my page too. At least on WordPress there is no confusion. I pay a good amount for this page and I can do what I want with it!

  3. Wow – I actually just read the Anna Gervai helpful hints and my head is spinning. I wouldn’t even know where to start if I had a company I wanted to put on Facebook!

  4. Hmmmm, I feel like small potatoes, and this all runs way over my head! I rarely FB these days, and I get annoyed by the ads, personally. I love WordPress and the connections I’ve made here. It seems more manageable to me. Most of the time this world is moving way too technologically fast for this girl who didn’t even use a computer until she was in her mid-twenties (and I’m only 38 now, LOL). And, when it becomes so confusing, I run to the other side! Thanks for sharing this, El. XOXO-SWM

    • Grinning at you Single Working Mom. WordPress is so much more manageable –heck yes, and I love having total control over the content here. Thank you so much for your kind remarks!! xoxoxo–el

      • You’re welcome, El! I LOVE reading your blog-you are one awesome writer, and I love how real life you are, no skirting around issues-I also appreciate your replies to each comment made. I’m the same way!