The Next Step Facebook Needs to Take for Marketers

Would you give a colleague your Facebook password to see how the ads are doing?

We’ve seen an entire industry arise around platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. There are social media marketing experts and agencies all over the place. If you need to find one, you won’t have to look hard. The interaction that in-house and external social media marketers drive, of course, benefits the platforms, which thrive on views and clicks to drive ad impressions and bring cash in. So, it isn’t surprising to see companies like Twitter and Facebook release features that appeal to marketers. There are still a few gaps, though, and none is as frustrating as that between company Facebook pages and ads.

To move its advertising platform to the next level, this is a problem Facebook will have to remedy.

Currently, you create and manage Facebook ad campaigns from your personal account. If one person manages Facebook ads for your company, this might not be a big deal. He logs into his Facebook account, runs the campaign and pulls reports for anyone who needs to see them.

If your company has multiple stakeholders in the Facebook advertising process, however, this can become a big pain. Either it becomes impossible to manage the process seamlessly, or you have to surrender passwords, create separate accounts for work or engage in other clumsy workarounds that chew up time and cost you efficiency.

A consolidated advertising environment, that puts the company at the center instead of the individual, is desperately needed, especially if Facebook wants to engage more richly with big brands and heavy ad spenders. It could replicate the role-based model you see in most ad serving platforms or somehow put a Facebook spin on it, but the measure would make advertising (and thus spending on advertising) far easier.

Now, this presents a pretty serious challenge for Facebook. Traditionally, Facebook has put the user first … and this is largely why the environment has been so successful. Trust is created through the realization that every account corresponds to a real person.

For corporate spenders, this won’t work.

The notion of linking the advertising tool to Facebook pages (as well as individual users) is marginally better. Page admins, under this model, would be able to access the advertising tools, though several different roles would probably be prudent to segment administrators with financial access from those who shouldn’t have it.

I say this is marginally better, because it doesn’t provide a consolidated environment for companies with multiple Facebook pages … which could conceivably be any big company with a number of brands. In this environment, consolidated reporting – on everything from spending to content and ad performance – would be necessary, and cobbling it together outside the Facebook environment would be a colossal pain.

So, the gap starts to be pretty clear. Facebook would be wise to start working on an ad module that is based on the company and then links together brand pages and ad campaigns, with Facebook users admitted to a company’s account and given a certain level of access based on role (as you’d see, for example, in an ad server or CRM system).

This is no small task: it requires a fundamental change in philosophy for the social media company that has long heralded the individual. With a liquidity event clearly in its future, however, the company needs to start thinking big financially. Escalating user counts won’t be sufficient to drive the stock price higher when Facebook is public, and the best way to generate revenue is to make a product that is great and easy for your target market to buy.

The Facebook ad platform certainly needs to mature, and that clearly means taking it out of the hands of the individual.