Facebook, MySpace Aren't Making the Marketing Cut

myspace/facebook homepageWhile chief marketing officers are intrigued by social networking sites Facebook and MySpace as potential marketing vehicles, actually using them is another matter, according to the results of a new survey.

More than one-quarter (27%) of consumer and B-to-B chief marketing executives surveyed online in late October by GfK Roper Public Relations and Media for marketing services firm Epsilon identified social networking and word-of-mouth as the tools they would most like to introduce to their marketing mix to compensate for anticipated budget cuts--ahead of all other traditional or digital marketing channels.

However, more than half (55%) of the 180 responding chief marketers--representing brands with revenues ranging from $250 million to more than $10 billion--indicated low current interest in actually incorporating the networking sites into their plans.



One-third said they're "not interested at all" in getting Facebook and MySpace into their plans, and 22% said they're "not too interested," while 35% are very or somewhat interested.

Other, more "traditional" social media scored far higher on the very/somewhat interested in integrating question. More than half (52%) ranked both Internet forums and Webinars in this category, followed by Webcasts and podcasts (47%), email (also 47%) and blogs (37%).

Just 10% reported that they are already using Facebook and MySpace in their marketing plans.

Why the lack of use of these networks? These sites "narrowly appeal to college and high school students," pose results-measurement challenges and yield a limited amount of actionable data, sums up Epsilon CMO Steve Cone.

To put it more bluntly, "marketers don't care about teenagers sharing photographs with one another," Cone tells Marketing Daily. And while companies can post their own products or marketing-oriented profiles on these sites, site users "are likely to turn off" if they see too much marketing on these kinds of channels, which they consider vehicles for personal communications, he adds.

"The same applies to text-messaging," Cone notes. "The channel can be used for marketing, but it's not advisable."

In short, "marketers are being smart" by not trying to use Facebook and MySpace as no-cost online billboards, he believes.

In contrast, marketers have plenty of proof that email works. Epsilon's latest benchmark stats show that retailers, for example, realize 20 cents in e-commerce revenue for every email delivered. Email's measurable profitability obviously makes it attractive to marketers--particularly during a time of budget cutbacks, notes Kevin Mabley, SVP, Epsilon Strategic Services.

Indeed, responding marketers confirmed that email is the medium they are least likely to cut back on in the face of anticipated budget reductions for the year ahead.

The economy will make budget cuts inevitable, in marketers' view: 93% are expecting moderate to significant budget impacts in 2009. Moreover, 70% are predicting that they will specifically need to reduce advertising expenditures within their plans.

Aside from continued focus on email, what's in the game plan for 2009? About half report that their companies already use consumer data mining, but an additional 23% are planning to do so within the next 12 months. Furthermore, 55% of those who are not already using Web analytics will be leveraging that tool.

Marketers are divided on customer loyalty and rewards programs. A third report that their companies already have these, and 17% are planning to implement them next year, but half say they are neither using or planning to use such programs.


6 comments about "Facebook, MySpace Aren't Making the Marketing Cut ".
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  1. Arnaldo Rabelo from Rabelo & Associados, November 26, 2008 at 5:41 a.m.

    The ideal approach in social networks is not using traditional advertisement. But ignoring the word-of-mouth potencial is a mistake. Most of the people ask advice to their contacts about new products before buying them. The brands must participate in communities to talk and hear about their consumer needs, because other people are already doing that.

  2. Linda Ziskind from Z2 Consulting, LLC, November 26, 2008 at 11:16 a.m.

    It's kind of unbelievable that marketing professionals like Epsilon's Steve Cone and P&G's Ted McConnell continue to speak publicly about something they clearly know little about. If Mr. Cone really believes that Facebook is simply "teenagers sharing photographs with one another," then he hasn't used it enough to understand it and is forming his marketing strategy based on his ill-informed, preconceived notions. I have 80 some professional adult "friends" on Facebook. I have used it to swap recipes with friends, to network with former business associates and clients, and to raise money for a capital campaign. Yes, teenagers were the initial users of the site and still represent a sizable part of the Facebook population, but there is a parallel universe of grown-ups, communicating about grown-up things.
    Perhaps, in the future, Mssrs. Cone and McConnell should try to have a passing acquaintance with reality before they speak up.

  3. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, November 26, 2008 at 11:45 a.m.

    It depends on the product or service being marketed. Some categories lend themselves to social networking better than others and creative execution is at least as important as category in determining social network marketing success.

    Recently, a friend of mine from high school (keep in mind I graduated from high school in 1980) sent me an Upstate New York Facebook gift (I grew up in upstate Monticello). As well intentioned as it was, the virtual gift my friend sent wasn't something I particularly went for in the real world. Despite that, I reciprocated by sending him something from the Upstate Facebook virtual gift portfolio that back in the day we consumed massive quantities of, Gennie Cream Ale (The drinking was 18 in those pre-historic times).

    Myspace and Facebook are not just for high schoolers and College Students anymore. The only people in that age group among my social networking contacts are my wife's cousin, the children of friends from Temple and a couple of people who I have worked on political campaigns with. Otherwise, the rest of my more than 250 combined contacts on Linked In, MySpace and Facebook (There's considerable overlapping between Facebook and Linked In contacts, but little overlapping between MySpace and the others) are adults.

    Two friends of mine from college (I graduated from Syracuse in 1984, so we're hardly recent grads) decided out of the blue to find someone they hadn't had any contact with since 1985. They googled her and found a MySpace page and charged me with contacting her for them (They both have Linked In accounts and one also has a Facebook page, but I was the only to admit to a MySpace page).

    I joined MySpace in 2006 because of my involvement in a political campaign. I did so with hesitation because I thoughts all adults on Myspace were perceived as pervs. That wasn't the case as I discovered the average MySpace user was their late 30s. I joined Facebook last year also because of a political campaign. I also hesitated again because Facebook had a reputation of being considerably younger than MySpace. I joined Linked In several years ago, although I can't remember when and who invited me. In 2005, I joined ad industry social networking site Adholes. Media Post had social networking functions as far back as the late 90s, although I don't know of anyone who considers it a social networking vehicle per say.

    I like Myspace's interface better than Facebook's, but rarely visit it anymore because most people I know prefer Facebook. I have actually met, spoken to on the phone or exchanged email with over 90 percent of my Facebook contacts, with the rest being one degree of separation away. Only about 10 of my MySpace friends are people I know or are one degree of separation away. I have some type of relationship with most of my Linked In contacts, although a healthy percentage of them are people that contacted me because they want to sell me something.

  4. Paul Mayes from T, November 26, 2008 at 12:24 p.m.

    Facebook is not just "teenagers sharing photographs". I am continually amazed at the growth rate of post-graduate Facebookers. 10% of Facebook users are 13-17 and 46% of Facebook users are 18-25. That leaves 44% of a large population at 26+. And shouldn't marketers be appealing to impressionable college-aged consumers anyway?

    Ben Lorica has some great Facebook demo data here:

  5. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, November 26, 2008 at 12:25 p.m.

    Linda, I just asked you to be a Facebook and Linked In contact.

  6. Tricia Converse from Selbert Perkins Design, December 1, 2008 at 11:25 a.m.

    Wow! How can they be missing the boat like that. Someone is not doing the proper research. The 35-45 year old population has caught on to Facebook like wildfire! From personal experience I can tell you that entire high school graduating classes from the 1980s have joined Facebook, my father who is 68 has joined. We communicate completely through Facebook now, not EMAIL! They better take a much closer look at Facebook. I think there are a lot of people out there who underestimate it's power, popularity, sustainability. The Facebook Era has only just begun. People think it is a passing hobby - it is the new form of communication. The ability to post photos, chat, send gifts, post video, check on a friend's status, remember birthdays, play games, and more is appealing to every age. The younger generation may have utilized sooner that everyone else - but we have now DISCOVERED FACEBOOK and we're using it!

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