Facebook vs. Reality: why Facebooks ads don’t work

In a June 27th, 2017 a commentary in Media Post, Gord Hotchkiss lays out the problem with Facebook advertising.  Facebook is about self-advertising and Advertisers interfere with the self-adulation.  Hotchkiss writes,  “According to a study from the Georgia Institute of Tech, half of all selfies taken have one purpose. They are intended to show the world how attractive we are: our makeup, our clothes, our shoes, our lips, our hair. This category accounts for more selfies than all other categories combined — more than selfies taken with people or pets we love, more than us doing the things we love, more than being in the places we love, more than eating the food we love. It appears that the one thing we love the most is ourselves. The selfies have spoken.”

If one swills that static around just a bit in your cortical brew it can be quite disconcerting to think that fifty percent 1.9 billion Facebook users are, like Narcissist, captured by their cyber reflections.  To whom are these budding flowers posing for?  What is the outcome?  What is the gain?

Hotchkiss argues that Shakesphere knew the answer,  “All the world is a stage and all the men and women merely players.” Hotchkiss aruges via the social psychology theories of Goffman that, “we are all playing the part of who we want to be perceived as. Our lives are divided up into two parts: the front, when we’re “on stage” and playing our part, and the “back,”when we prepare for our role. The roles we play depend on the context we’re in.”

Here’s the down side for advertisers is that Facebook is not about the consumer but how people, “are obsessed about how they are perceived by others. They’re the ones snapping selfies of themselves to show the world just how marvelous they look.”  This may account for the terribly low click-through-rates of 0.01 to 0.05% of Facebook ads.

Advertisers, like Facebook devotees, have been convinced that being on Facebook means something.  The positive benefits for advertisers is miniscule.  Shoppers, real people who know what they want are different than Facebook devotees.  Hotchkiss via Goffman says, “Others care little what the world thinks of them. They are internally centered and are focused on living their lives, rather than acting their way through their lives for the entertainment of —  and validation from —  others.”   According to Hotchkiss, “Goffman’s theory was created specifically to provide insight into face-to-face encounters. Technology has again throw a gigantic wrinkle into things — and that wrinkle may explain why we keep taking those narcissistic selfies.”

Shopping is fundamentally a face-to-face experience.  It is here that local businesses should be kicking ads but don’t.  They don’t because they think they should be more like Facebook” hip, cool, self-indulgent.  Shoppers, real shoppers, want a human interaction that motivates them to buy and come back more often.


The most bizarre twist of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, et al is the intimacy and acceptance they pretend to offer.  There is no intimacy or acceptance via social media of any kind.  What there is instead is a microphone attached to the ear of the speaker. 



Advertisers need to pay attention to whom they seek to engage…a person talking to himself or herself or x-self is not your target consumer. Hotchkiss, calls Facebook and social media, “This is pure catnip to the socially needy. Their need to craft a popular — but entirely inauthentic — persona goes into overdrive. Their lives are not lived so much as manufactured to create a veneer just thick enough to capture a quick click of approval. Increasingly, they retreat to an online world that follows the script they’ve written for themselves. Suddenly it makes sense why we keep taking all those selfies of ourselves. When all the world’s a stage, you need a good head shot.”

Advertisers might reevaluate their social media buys and think about shifting focus to person-to-person communication that takes place at the local level.  Imagine for a moment, General Foods, Ford, GM, et al investing in training local employees in local stores about the in-store experience, giving direct in-store shopper discounts, and giving up the board room agreement that, “we need a bigger online strategy.”

Categories: Richard Corriere

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