Don't Blame Facebook For Your Problems

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In our sometimes sucky society, there's no better case study in the tendency to blame external forces for our mistakes and shortcomings than the dysfunctional relationship between large swaths of the public and Facebook ( FB).

We've got endless examples:

You really can't assign blame to Facebook for your problems, no matter what they are. But that's what we tend to do.

My wacko ex-boyfriend is stalking me; it's because of a loosey-goosey privacy policy. Somebody bullied my kid; finger social media. Somebody shared my 'private' holiday picture; they have no "social etiquette."

In each of the above-mentioned scenarios, blaming Facebook is the easy answer. It allows us to ignore the larger, highly-complex bigger picture issues we need to address, re: IPOs, stalkers, bullying and privacy. Same goes for companies that complain about the "effectiveness" of Facebook advertising.

As Director of Social Media for TheStreet, it continues to become increasingly clear, if you can't make social advertising work, you're the one with the problem, not Facebook, Twitter or one of the other platforms.

Even though it's on a roll -- up 43% since I admonished Barrons for its lame $15 price target -- concerns over Facebook's ability to deliver for advertisers remains a key component of the bear case on the stock. This shouldn't be.

First, we have not compiled enough observations, particularly on mobile, to come to valid conclusions. Facebook has most of the meaningful data that could actually help determine how well its platform serves clients. Nobody else. There's no such thing as an "expert" on social media. It's too new. If somebody tries to tell you they're an "expert," call them a poser. Because that's what they are.

Second, even if data shows Facebook doesn't work, how do we know it's Facebook's fault? Advertising and marketing campaigns fall flat all of the time. It happens on television every day. It will happen to more than a few companies later this month at the Super Bowl. They'll blow millions on an ad that doesn't resonate. Should they blame the platform or have a look in the mirror? Wonder if they could have done better as a creative organization.

Content ultimately wins these battles. If your content -- a 60-second commercial, an article, a radio spot, a picture, a Facebook promoted post, whatever -- doesn't cut through, it's your own fault. When something I put dollars behind on TheStreet's Facebook page falls flat, I don't blame the medium; I blame myself.

Did I choose the right article? Did I word the post properly? Did I target the appropriate demos? Am I posting too frequently? Am I not posting enough?

But, truth be told, more often than not Facebook advertising works for TheStreet. And it works for Ford because, unlike GM, Ford gets it. Just dig this blurb I used in the GM/F article linked on Page One, Bullet Point Three of the present article:
"You just can't buy your way into Facebook," said Ford spokesman Scott Monty. "You need to have a credible presence and be doing innovative things." More than 20% of Ford's marketing budget is spent on digital and social media.

Right on, brother. Facebook advertising works for individuals and companies who not only know how to use social, but why they're using it in the first place. You don't use Facebook to sell widgets; you use it to get in front of people who like what you do as well as the ones who have no idea that you exist.

So, if you're looking at the stock, don't let the Facebook might not be an effective advertising platform meme keep you away. It is. I know this firsthand.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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