Forrester open letter claims Facebook is ‘failing marketers’

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Updated Oct 30: “Mr Zuckerberg, Facebook is failing marketers.” So begins a scathing open letter from Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Nate Elliot, attacking the social network for not giving companies better return on their advertising investment.

The letter, published on the official Forrester blog, details a series of reasons as to why the Palo Alto company is letting marketers down.

Primarily, however, Forrester’s ire comes from research the company conducted, published on Monday, which shows marketers are least satisfied with Facebook as a marketing channel for giving business value.

The findings can be seen in the table below:

It’s worth mentioning here that the figures are, in part, relative. With scores ranging from one to five – five being ‘very satisfied’ – Facebook scored 3.54. Twitter, in comparison, scored on average 3.57. Given the sample was 395 marketers, that’s not a mighty upswing from the micro-blogger.

Indeed, social networks as marketing channels were at the bottom of the list, bar LinkedIn, which at an average score of 3.70 fared marginally better than mobile marketing (3.69).

Yet Elliot goes in depth into Facebook’s weaknesses, claiming the social network is not good enough at “driving genuine engagement”, nor at “pure” advertising.

“Your sales materials tease marketers with the promise that you’ll help them create such connections. But in reality, you rarely do,” the letter rages.

The letter points out that, on average, Facebook only shows a brand’s post to 16% of its fans, even though each user who ‘likes’ a page volunteers to receive the brand’s messages. It’s a frustrating situation for both the end user and the brand.

Regarding advertising, the analyst house claims the social network needs to move more with the times. Forrester criticises the “static-image ad units”, and claims anecdotal evidence which reveals how Facebook’s display ads “were significantly less effective than the display ads they buy elsewhere online.”

This isn’t a total hatchet job, of course, with Elliot signing off his letter with a message of hope that Facebook can turn its strategy around.

“I believe there’s still time for Facebook to refocus its efforts and realise its enormous potential,” Elliot writes. “But [Facebook] must act quickly, before marketers act on their growing dissatisfaction and start earmarking an increasingly smaller budget share to [the] company.”

In response, Facebook claimed the report came to “illogical” and “irresponsible” conclusions.

“The reality is that Facebook advertising works,” Facebook said in a statement. “That’s why we have more than a million active advertisers including all of the Ad Age 100. And, countless studies have demonstrated the significant return on investment marketers see from Facebook.  

“Our promise is to continue to deliver positive results for marketers.” 

What do you make of the analysis? And what’s your experience of using Facebook for marketing?

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