DETROIT – Facebook’s influence on car buyers was called into question after the Wall Street Journal reported on General Motors’ decision to stop advertising on the social-networking site. But one digital marketing firm is coming to the defense of Facebook.

Rick Gibbs, president and chief technology officer for, would not comment on GM’s decision, but said he believes Facebook has one of the strongest networks for reaching automotive customers via a comprehensive advertising, content and engagement strategy. That approach, he added, has had a positive impact on his clients' brands and bottom lines.

“Most advertisers are focused on the wrong key performance indicators when measuring Facebook advertising effectiveness,” he said. “The opportunity of social networking advertising lies beneath the surface at a micro-level of brand engagement, audience reach and customer interactions. When done correctly, the results are increased engagement and customer loyalty before, during and after the purchase.”

Quoting a GM official, the Wall Street Journal reported that the carmaker plans to stop advertising after deciding that ads on the site have little impact on consumers’ car purchases. The Detroit automaker spends about $40 million on its Facebook presence, the report said, $10 million of which is directed to Facebook ads.

Whether Facebook is effective at moving cars has been a hot topic of late. Proponents of Facebook say the social-networking site isn’t geared toward selling cars, and should be viewed as an opportunity to build brand awareness. Dealers have also wrestled with the question of whether to outsource content creation and management of their Facebook pages.

Last week, F&I and Showroom reported on a recent shopper behavior study that showed many dealerships are successfully utilizing Facebook to generate new visitors to their Websites. But the study also showed that traditional methods are still required to turn visits into leads.

"The data shows that Facebook is a good approach to getting new visitors to dealership sites,” Dylan Snyder, senior manager of business intelligence at Dataium. “The lead-to-visitor ratio, which is less than half of our network average, is disappointingly low, however. This highlights that dealerships cannot rely on Facebook alone; traditional methods are still needed to turn these new visitors into leads."