Mio Ristic

Did General Motors Unfriend Facebook? The Whole Story.

GM's move to cancel their $10 mil advertising package with Facebook was widely reported around the world, but we rarely got the complete picture. The real story it turns out is that GM is still very much 'friends' with Facebook. Their facebook page is in fact bursting with videos, pictures and stories, the result of investing $30 mil a year by producing content and not spending it on ads.

facebook and GMIt’s Supposed to be Social Stupid!

To be frank, I always thought that advertising on Facebook was a bad idea, for one big reason – it’s not social. In fact its inherently wrong and contravening with the whole idea of social, especially Facebook.

When you are at a social gathering, whether on facebook or in real life, at your child’s basketball game, you are there to socialise not to be sold to. Social media is a tool for the free exchange of content, for inbound marketing (pull vs push marketing), so selling there is just not appropriate. Companies that dont see this are simply interrupting you, you were there to chat with family and friends, exchange photos, read posts etc, not to buy stuff. Its just not social.

If i want to buy i go to a shop. This is the reason why Google ads work when facebooks dont.  Aaccording to WordStream research, when you are on Google you are looking for a product or a service and being advertised to at the moment of buying decision is welcome, helpful even, it’s actually the perfect moment – you are not interrupted you are assisted.

Content is KIng

For the full picture, on GM's attidude to facebook and social in general, they released the following statement on the matter:

… we are reassessing our advertising, but remain committed to an aggressive content strategy with all of our products and brands, as it continues to be a very effective tool for engaging with our customers.

So they are comitted to an agressive content strategy to engage their customer. Facebook has been struggling for years to come up with a monetising format and to prove ROI for facebook ads. The problem is facebook ads dont engage their customers so it’s a logical strategy for GM to move their resources where their mouth is.

Apart from their Facebook page, GM has a very vibrant YouTube channel called “gmblogs”. They opened their channel in 2006 and now features over 360 quality videos, more than 3 mil views and 1,700 subscribers. The YouTube channel in particular is actually the content-creation-fuel for their group of blogs 7 different gmblogs.


What’s links their YouTube channel and their blogs is storytelling, powerful stories told by ordinary people, their staff, their customers and others. Storytelling is interesting, engaging and the stuff that oils the wheels of social and is the real not so secret secret sauce of good social engagement these days.

This is nothing new as companies have long emphasised the role of content in providing customers and prospects with useful information and meaningful insight, and the rise of essentially free distribution channels such as YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, as well as facebook are now leveling the playing field, by being available to businesses of all shapes and sizes, GM smartly has chosen a more social and (bad news for facebook) more cost effective strategy to get their story across.

What GM are doing now is putting that saved cash into content creation, quality engaging video in particular, and not into clumsily interrupting and potentialy damaging ads. 


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Mio Ristic Digital Video Vault Mio Ristic
Company: Digital Video Vault
Position: Chief Engagement Officer
Video producer, online marketer, blogger.

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