Forrester’s Facebook is ‘failing marketers’ report draws Fire

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An unflattering report from Forrester presented as an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggests that the social network is “failing marketers,” who scored Facebook lower than any other online marketing channel when it came to business value. Facebook is accused of failing to deliver the level of consumer engagement it once promised, and isn’t very good at pure advertising either, Forrester’s Nate Elliott writes. “While lots of marketers spend lots of money on Facebook today, relatively few find success“. It was a different story three years ago when the social network could do no wrong. According to findings by the Nielson Company The average time users spent on Facebook was 7 hours per month.

Posted by Nate Elliott, the claim is made that business leaders are less satisfied with the social network, primarily for two reasons. The first is lack of driving genuine engagement between firms and their customers. Second is that Facebook apparently things to deliver on advertising. Forrester estimates that Facebook delivers tens of billions of display ads daily, however fewer than 50% of those ads actually leveraged Facebook’s cash of social data which target relevant audiences.

“I believe there’s still time for Facebook to refocus its efforts and realize its enormous potential. To do that, you’ll need to once again build bridges between companies and their customers, you’ll need to fully leverage social affinity data within your ad targeting products, and you’ll need to better listen to the marketers who drive your company’s financial success. But you must act quickly, before more marketers act on their growing dissatisfaction and start earmarking an increasingly smaller budget share to your company. I hope our research convinces you and your team to change course”. – Nate Elliott, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester 

The Forrester report was attacked by two websites, Venturebeat and Business Insider. According to Venturebeat, Forrester arrived at its conclusion by talking to a limited number of people, (365) who worked at large companies only:

Those companies rated Facebook — as a marketing channel — below online reviews, search marketing (read: gaming Google), email marketing (read: borderline spamming), word-of-mouth marketing (what the hell do they think Facebook is?), online display advertising, LinkedIn marketing (how many dishwashers are sold on LinkedIn every day?), mobile marketing, YouTube marketing, Google+ marketing, and — yes — even Twitter marketing. Which just proves they asked the wrong people, since Facebook generates 10 times the shares, 20 times the traffic, and 30 times the new customers that Twitter does”.

Business insider’s critique pulled no punches calling the report a hatchet job with supporting ‘evidence’ that can only be described as bulls***.

“The Forrester analyst who produced this appeared to have an ax to grind long before they ever got the “data” quoted in this report. The report says: “A handful of notable brands has drawn first blood, announcing they’re leaving Facebook entirely.” The analyst’s endnotes cite only one company, namely General Motors, who (a) did NOT say on May 2012 they were leaving entirely but were just stopping Facebook paid media, and (b) over six months ago said they were also returning to buy Facebook ads once more”.

Business insider has hinted of a concerted PR campaign to circulate the report calculated to generate sensationalism, with words like harsh reality and the results will be dire. Facebook in responding via email to Business Insider said, while they agreed that the promise of social media is still in progress, “the conclusions of the report are illogical and irresponsible”. They claim that their advertising works and cited more than 1 million active advertisers including all of the Add Age 100.

Image credit via Forrester