Is advertising on Facebook called Social Media Marketing?

Unless you have been living in the caves of Afghanistan, it is likely that you would have heard, if not become a registered member, of Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, the 24 year old boss of Facebook opened up advertising on Facebook last year taking the approach of ‘social actions’ of its users. He explains it in his press release that “The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page and that’s where (all) businesses are going to start as well. Social actions are powerful because they act as trusted referrals and reinforce the fact that people influence people. It’s no longer just about messages that are broadcasted out by companies, but increasingly about information that is shared between friends. Social Ads can appear either within a user’s News Feed as sponsored content or in the ad space along the left side of the site.”

A lot of people believe that this might take web advertising to its new generation fourth phase. Basically Internet advertising has three proven advertising categories. The first is the banner or display ads; I guess it’s the most used by Indian marketers. The second is the online classifieds (eg. Craigslist); I can’t think of a successful Indian example in this case. Third is the widely spreading ‘search advertising’ that has been largely driven by Google.

As a marketer myself, I find the search related ads as the safest bet where I might put my monies. I haven’t found many banner ads so compelling or memorable enough to click on them. Search ads appear at right time and also I have to pay for them only if the consumer responds by clicking on it.

Although Facebook Ads is a step forward from earlier forms of advertising it cannot be considered as social media. It is still advertising. The message will still be more like brand speak rather than consumer speak. I give this example every time I have to explain the difference between speaking with and speaking to. Think of speaking to someone as standing on a podium with audience facing towards you while speaking with as coming down from that podium and standing together with the people and discussing with them. Social media is all about dialoguing with people, participating in their conversations and generating value for the group

We have reached a stage where Cluetrain Manisfesto needs to be revisited as its implications are being felt more than ever. It is important to preserve the sanctity of conversation economy even more. As social media marketer you have to ensure that you are creating value for your reader. Brian Solis has added his own unique perspective in his post Conversational Marketing Vs Market Conversations

I particularly like what Doc Searls has written on his blog about conversational marketing.

  • The purpose of conversation is to create and improve understanding, not for one party to “deliver messages” to the other. That would be rude.
  • There is no “audience” in a conversation. If we must label others in conversation, let’s call them partners.
  • Conversations are about talking, not announcing. They’re about listening, not surveying. They’re about paying attention, not getting attention. They’re about talking, not announcing
  • “Driving” is for cars and cattle, not conversation

To sum up, placing ads in Facebook may at best be termed as advertising in social media platform. It will always be one way street. It is not correct and complete manner of consumer engagement. It will make the marketer feel happy to see the brand next to a conversation but rest assured it is getting ignored by the consumer just as ever.

Read more about Social Media Marketing and how Facebook can be used to promote brands


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18 Responses to “Is advertising on Facebook called Social Media Marketing?”

  1. manuscrypts says:

    conversational marketing is attempting a dialogue with consumers, it has to be 2 way, but social media marketing would also be using a platform like Facebook to create an say it is best when its 2 way, but it could also be 1 way, and hence advertising… in that sense, conversational marketing and SMM are two different things… what works or doesn’t is a different debate altogether…


  2. Windchimes says:

    Hi Manu,

    I have a different take on SMM. I don’t believe it can be one way. In fact I don’t even call it advertising in any form. Coca Cola example is brilliant with its creation but its pure subtle branding done on social networking site – wont classify it as an attempt or use of social media. I believe SMM too works only two ways as it involves dialogue with people


  3. manuscrypts says:

    when you say banner ads on facebook are not SMM, my example would be this – i am a huge bollywood buff…bollywood hungama, on every movie release day, shows me a banner ad, asking me to read the review (yesterday, it was ‘Fashion’).. and i usually click.. there is no conversation…or rather, the conversation is as simple as them showing an ad and me saying ‘i like’ by clicking.. note that I can also do an ‘i like’ with a thumbs up…so it isnt plain banner advertising either…
    my point, by virtue of using social media for marketing, isnt the exercise SMM? else, it is an oxymoron….so what do you call the coke effort? social media branding? but as with every other form of marketing, SMM can be 1 way or 2 way…ie. banner advertising, conversational marketing, experiential marketing and so on…
    i repeat, what works or doesn’t, right or wrong is a different debate altogether… my comment is only pertinent to the title of the post – your question 🙂


  4. Windchimes says:

    I would call coke example advertising in social media as they would have done in traditional media before.
    I also am not debating on what works or not. For me social media marketing itself only stands for two way conversations. Difference being that is longer process in brand building than advtg on FB.


  5. Ads Design says:

    While every page can be optimized for social media sites, you might have time actively to promote only some of your pages at social media sites. Ads Design


  6. Tim Rueb says:

    No, Advertising on a social media site is not Social Media Marketing. It’s advertising. In the same way if I stick banner ads in my client’s email campaigns that does not make it email marketing. The fact that I’m using email to achieve my marketing goals is email marketing.

    Using social media tools to conduct marketing campaigns is social media marketing. Look at the US 08 elections. The Obama campaign used social media sites to reach a demographic which they thought (rightly so) already used these tools and in the past these demographics were difficult to reach with traditional methods, or at least had underperformed results.


  7. Windchimes says:


    You have answered correctly – so in sync with the post. It is important for social media marketeers to draw this difference to their clients. The US elections example that you have cited is valid and good example of participation and collaboration


  8. Matthew Ray says:

    No. Advertising is not Social Media Marketing. Sure, you are putting impressions up – but really, Social Media Marketing is spreading around good PR. The social aspect of this is keying in on the right market, your audience. Where are you going to find them?

    You can find them on various social sites, but most sites usually hold a specific type of person.

    You have Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, SecondLife, Alltop, for example. People on these sites are looking for different things.

    I may be on all five of these mentioned, but I’m on there for a specific purpose.

    Twitter: To find and follow innovated, fast movers that can share something useful with me

    Facebook: To connect with old and new friends

    MySpace: I really just use for music and concert listings

    SecondLife: My PC is not fast enough to run the graphics, but I would be using this for a new interactive way to reach my audience…or in turn, be the audience of another. Used for conferences, trade shows, Q&A, demos, etc

    Alltop: Post my blog into a categorized aggregation site Alltop. All the time. My headlines then need to catch ones eye before the next blog does.

    But…to your main question…Advertising on Facebook is not much different than Google Ads. They are just fluff and overlooked. You need to reach your audience at a social level! Discuss, learn from them as they learn from you. Dell has a new Facebook site out there now – check it out:



  9. Windchimes says:

    Thank you Matthew for sharing your thoughts. I think your last line “discuss, learn from them as they learnf rom you” sums it all up


  10. […] By Age: It was hard to believe that presidential candidate actually had a profile on Facebook and then on MySpace. His profile on Facebook was interactive giving his fans an opportunity to interact with him – much different from just placing banners ads that are barely effective. […]

  11. Sandlines says:

    I like this post – and the conversation (!) that has developed from there rather a lot. The distinction between the ‘broadcast’ of advertising and the ‘engagement’ of conversational marketing is a theme that very few marketers and their agencies have yet grasped… and yet (as I also tend to bang on about at there are *some* who really do get it – and I strongly believe they’ll thrive, especially in the current economic/marketing environment.


  12. Windchimes says:

    Thanks Mike – I like your line – ‘broadcast of advtg and engagement of conversation marketing’ – very interesting play of words!!


  13. Robin Carey says:

    Interesting conversation here. Does social media marketing require that content in some form be created?


  14. Windchimes says:

    Yes, I would say so. It is important to add back to community in any form. So the content could be in the form of write up or videos or images


  15. […] Comments This blog post has stemmed from the interesting discussion that my earlier post generated ‘Is advertising on Facebook called Social Media Marketing?” Mostly all agreed that while advertising on Facebook helped the marketer focus to the right target […]

  16. […] enough to claim that you are engaged in Social Media Marketing (SMM). The question was linking to a post over at Windchimes which does into more […]

  17. […] More importantly, it is a credible way of highlighting your product range without sounding like advertising. And finally, Q&A sites are helping Brands become more human. It has allowed a Brand to be the […]

  18. […] the past few years, social media has become an important tool of marketing. Big brands have invested in the new media hoping to hook […]

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