New Poll: Facebook Comments, Ads Don’t Sway Most Users

One of five Facebook Inc users has bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site.

Recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that the latest sign that much more needs to be done to turn its 900 million customer base into advertising dollars. Photo: Union Coast/Flickr

According to the results of the conducted poll, 34 percent of Facebook fans surveyed were spending less time on the website than they used to be six months ago, whereas only 20 percent were spending more.

As Reuters claims, the survey indicates investors’ worries about the social network’s money-earning abilities that have pushed the stock down 29 percent since its initial public offering last month, reducing its market value by $30 billion to roughly $74 billion.

About 44 percent interviewees said the market debut, seen by investors as troubled, has damaged Facebook’s status. In the May 31-June 4 poll of 1,032 Americans, 21 percent said they had no Facebook account.

While the survey did not ask how other forms of advertising affected purchasing behavior, a February study, conducted by research firm eMarketer, suggested that Zuckerberg’s site fared worse than email or direct-mail marketing in terms of influencing consumers’ decisions.

“It shows that Facebook has work to do in terms of making its advertising more effective and more relevant to people,” eMarketer analyst Debra Williamson said.

It should be mentioned that last month those concerns became the topic issue when General Motors Co, the third largest advertiser in the United States, said it would stop paid advertising on Facebook.

However, the social networking giant declined to comment in detail on the survey, but referred to case studies of companies such as Nutella, which found that a 15 percent increase in sales was attributable to Facebook, and restaurant chain Applebee’s, whose Facebook ads delivered a threefold return on investment.

“The success of an ad campaign must be considered in relation to the product”, said Steve Hasker, president of Global Media Products and Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen.

“If you are advertising Porsche motor cars and you can get 20 percent of people to make a purchase that’s an astonishingly high conversion rate,” Hasker continued. “If you are selling instant noodles, maybe it’s not.”

About two out of five people surveyed by Ipsos Public Affairs confessed that they used Facebook every day. Nearly half of the Facebook users polled spent about the same amount of time on the social network as six months ago.

Keeping users coming back is crucial for all social media services, suggested Gartner analyst Ray Valdes.  “Facebook continuously has the challenge of Facebook fatigue, of the novelty factor wearing off, and therefore they have to introduce new kinds of interaction,” said Valdes, citing new features such as the “Timeline” interface.

The expert added that Facebook is still perfecting the effectiveness of its ads. However, he mentioned that he was surprised that the comments posted on the website from Facebook users’ friends were also only responsible for 20 percent of users making a purchase.

“Comments and recommendations from friends on Facebook do carry a lot of weight, so I’m surprised by the number,” he said.

The survey also showed that the most frequent Facebook users are aged 18 to 34, while 60 percent of that group being daily users. Among people aged 55 years and above, 29 percent said they were daily users.

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