What General Motors Teaches Us

by Robert L. Kern

When organizations ask me to discuss marketing strategies, Facebook is always the first item – and often the only item – on their agenda. I always caution them that despite its many benefits, it is not a “silver bullet” solution.

I was, therefore, not surprised by the news that General Motors announced it is discontinuing its Facebook advertising, worth about $10 million a year. Analysts believe this will cause other marketers to reevaluate their own Facebook advertising and it was also bad timing for the ubiquitous social media giant, whose lackluster $105 billion IPO was Friday, May 18.

Rather than focus on GM cutting $10 million in advertising on Facebook, it is important to note that they will continue to spend nearly $30 million to manage and develop applications for it. Although GM may be disappointed that Facebook advertising did not produce sales for them, they recognize the ability of social media to attract people and praise it as a “very effective tool for engaging with our customers.” I would also not be surprised if this is all a ploy to negotiate better rates and placement, but that remains to be seen.

The lesson here for Israel/Jewish organizations is to recognize that Facebook is just one of many valuable components of an integrated, multi-platform marketing plan. However, like everything else, it has its limitations and is not the “answer” to everything. Amassing legions of people who “Like” or “Friend” you is important. Facebook can undoubtedly help you raise your brand, but it does not raise significant funds. Not yet, anyway.

On the other hand, perhaps your organization will attract the attention of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. We have proof that he actually uses the social media giant that he founded because he changed his relationship status to “married” over this past weekend. Unfortunately, to date, he has not extended his philanthropic focus to Jewish or Israel causes.

Robert L. Kern is the owner and director of Robert Kern & Associates, a marketing and communications agency specializing in Israel and Jewish community advocacy. Previously, he was Director of Marketing & Communications at American Friends of Magen David Adom, National Communications Director of American ORT and also held marketing, communications and public relations positions at the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest and UJA.