Is Ford paying too much to be ‘liked’?

The battle for Facebook likes is heating up, as brands try to build their communities on the social network – before Facebook hikes up its ad rates.
Ford is one big brand that’s really warming up to Zuckerberg’s offer – but at what cost? Some of the figures reveal that advertising with Facebook offers a poor return compared to PR when it comes to adding ‘likes’.
The Wall Blog writes that Ford recently spent 5% of its $95m budget for its spokespuppet ‘Doug’ campaign on Facebook advertising. Yet this push only acquired 43,000 new thumbs ups – a relatively tiny ‘like’s spike for that kind of money.

Indeed, it works out at $110 per new ‘like’ – around £70 in UK money. That seems an awful lot to persuade someone to approve of your page – someone who might never engage with your brand on Facebook again. Thankfully, not all friends are so expensive.

Compare that to a recent PR campaign that I ran at my agency for a (to remain nameless) client, a major UK retailer. In only a few days we added around 2,500 new ‘likes’ for no more than £1 per ‘like’. Advertising around this campaign was far more modest than the Ford campaign, and actually more efficient – but still more than double the cost of the PR element.

One of the keys to the success was our grasp of storytelling, and our ability to integrate it with traditional PR, and Twitter. It was this element that ramped up the likes and delivered an audience interested in hearing more from the brand – and crucially, being more open to buying from it.

Warning - Facebook friends might cost more than a celebrity rider

Many people ask me how much they need to spend to reach a certain threshold of ‘likes’. Almost all of them would baulk at Ford’s figures. What do you think? Should Ford get better value for money? Do you think PR is an effective way to drive Facebook ‘likes’? What are the most effective ways of driving thumbs up for brand pages? What’s more important – ‘likes’ or engagement?

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