Facebook Users Connect with Brands via Organic Posts versus Facebook Ads

I came across an interesting study from eMarketer this morning. The study, performed by search engine marketing company Greenlight, shows that people are more likely to engage with organic posts by brands than Facebook ads by brands.

In the study, 44% of respondents said they have never clicked on a Facebook ad and only 13% say they click on Facebook ads often or regularly. In comparison, only 17% of respondents said they have never “liked” a company on Facebook, and 35% say they have liked a brand often or regularly.

The study also found that of those people who like brands on Facebook, many are engaging and sharing the organic posts made by the brands, in particular, posts that involve “pick your favorites”, quizzes, and trivia contests.

After reading through the study, I was thinking about how many will see this as proof that Facebook ads don’t work. I beg to differ with this. What this study shows are two very different statistics. First off, it only makes sense that more people are likely to “like” a brand on Facebook than respond to a Facebook ad. This sort of activity is opt-in, and it’s as easy as someone listing on their profile that they like a certain brand (movie, TV show, coffee place, etc.). More consumers will always opt-in themselves because these brands are already on the minds of the user as things that they like and are interested in. This isn’t necessarily true of brands being advertised on Facebook. Secondly, there needs to be a change of mindset about the importance on clicks on ads. Users might not click on an ad, but they’re still seeing the ad, whether they think about it or not. I can think of several brands I have seen advertise on Facebook within the last week (like Toyota and Starbucks). I didn’t click on these ads, but they still made me think (consciously or unconsciously) about the brands. In fact, I’m at Starbucks right now and just realized one of their new drinks (a mocha cookie frappuccino) was advertised on Facebook, and this was the first place I had heard about the new drink. Brands really need to understand the effect that just seeing an ad has on consumers (this is just like billboards and TV, which for some reason has never had the same controversies about performance as digital advertising has).

What I do think this study shows is the importance that earned media has for brands. Consumers ARE liking brands on Facebook and they’re interacting with their posts. This isn’t something you can get in other forms of advertising. It truly is a powerful experience that consumers are in right now, and I wholeheartedly believe that this is where the marketing gold is at right now. To actually make a consumer part of your brand is amazing, and for those who are claiming Facebook as ineffective just seem to be uncomfortable with this new environment and really don’t understand it. It is a “scary” new part of the marketing world, but the payoffs in the future will likely be phenomenal.

Check out the study here.

– Bryan Nagy