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Sponsoring on facebook--a waste? (long post)


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I'm wondering what everyone's thoughts are on Facebook sponsored posts and promotions?

Reason I ask is I know a couple years ago there were some studies done on FB promotions and it found that the majority of "likes" were from people in third world counties where 'Like Farms' (We've all seen those pages/emails/ads claiming to get your business thousands of likes in exchange for money--those come from people earning money just by creating profiles and liking those paid businesses).

On top of the whole like farm thing, it said the algorithm FB uses to show your page's update is decided partially by how important the Facebook servers think your post is. More likes/comments/shares on your post mean it's probably more important and so FB shows more followers that post. (Note: If you have 100 followers and you make a post, FB will NOT show it to all 100 followers unless it deems the post very important.) If you have click farms giving your business page likes, it's going to mean a lower interaction ratio from the real people and so it actually negatively impacts how many people see your posts.

Now, the last time I read up on these was a few years ago and I had heard FB addressed the problem by deleting the fake profiles who just go around liking tens of thousands of things each day.

Now to my experience with it:

I manage a busy flower shop run by my in-laws. They barely know how to turn on a computer and in the last few months I started working on social media, with FB being one of them. I created the page and got a few dozen followers from friends and family who have done business with the shop. With Valentines approaching I decided to run a program through FB to get more followers (note: I did set a certain age and location target). I let it run for a week, and before we hit 100 followers I made sure to save the list of names of those who followed us.

I went through the list, one by one and almost every new follower seemed to not really have much of a detailed profile which made me wonder if they were from like farms. I let the ad run it's course and I've since posted some items to the flower shop's page. It seems as if I have the same amount of interactions to posts as before we quintupled our followers and not a single name from the list matched a sender or recipient from the 100 which I saved. Granted, this "study" was conducted on a very small scale, but I'm very hesitant to spend any more money on Facebook to promote either the flower shop or my distillery.

So, I'm sitting here wondering what experience others have had promoting their business there? Good? Bad? Uncertain?

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Facebook and other social media stuff can be very useful, but they're not a good way to reach brand-new customers. Rather, they're a very good tool for building a community / staying in touch with established customers.

Any time you are paying for "likes" or twitter "followers", those will essentially be fraudulent accounts, or even if there are eyeballs on the other side of the screen, they have no interaction with your brand besides clicking on a thing. Basically buying likes is paying for the "impression" of an already-popular brand.

That's okay for a blog that just makes money on ads and clicks, but as liquor sales go, a gazillion likes doesn't mean as much as having a community that actually wants to read / see what you're posting. So when you post a picture of a new cocktail, you want Joe McCustomer who sees it to already have a bottle of your stuff on his home bar. If he was brand new, your booze was just another thing he saw on facebook once.

Here's what I understand about facebook's display algorithms: The faster a thing gets "liked" from when it was first posted, the more screen displays it gets going forward. So the only thing that matters is posting something your followers actually want to see (and share). A few general things I've found that help:

1. Pictures get more attention than just words.

2. Having real content / news / substance matters, as does the usual rules of social media (don't overshare, don't post unrelated memes, don't ever invite anyone to play a game, ever).

3. Post good stuff in the early afternoon when everyone in a 9-5 is just getting back from lunch / starting to waste away the rest of the day. Really big stuff you can post earlier.

4. Actual paid promotions are useful if you have "big news" to share (like a new state or a new product), because that will quickly pump it to all your existing followers and more, but the message still needs to be one focused on your current customer base.

Anyway, that's only my own POV, I hope it's helpful.

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Thanks! I wasn't buying likes through a third party, just facebook through promotions trying to directly target males, 25-55, within 5 miles of the zip code who would be ordering valentine's day flowers. I didn't expect any drastic results but I would have liked to see a coupon get used or at least a single order to match the list I saved. You'd think that a couple hundred people clicking "follow" after seeing a valentine's day post with coupon would get at least 1 buyer...Oh well.

I'm usually pretty saavy on marketing/promoting (for instance, our flowers website is doing over 3x the business it did last year) but I don't have a whole lot of experience in paid social media promotions. Obviously, a bad advertisement targeted to the right people won't generate sales and neither will a great ad targeted to the wrong people. Right now we are averaging a 13% engagement rate for each post averaging in the teens (total # of followers divided by how many likes/shares/comments).

With our distillery being close to opening I'm trying to figure out where the best bang for my buck will be and I'm thinking facebook isn't it. It's a great business tool, but I don't see it being all that great for reaching out to new buyers. Maybe I'm wrong?

Also, you're saying I should stop inviting all my friends to play Farmville? ;)

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Have you been in contact with your local TV news station and radio stations? In our market, at least, radio is very popular and many times the stations will do a three-hour live show interviewing the business owner, describing the business and talking to customers. It also gives you another reason to really get your fans out to your location. Congratulations and best wishes!

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tl5612, are you using it for paid advertising or posting updates to people who already follow you. If the paid route, what techniques do you find work the best to find the highest ratio of future customers?

bdkolstad, yes. I've actually had a lot of luck with local media reaching out to us. Unfortunately I've had to turn down/delay quite a number of requests due to some things we have cooking which I'm not quite ready to go public with.

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i have a daily page promotion going (and have done forever).

and promote posts regularly.

it's common sense - but only (mainly) post pictures, feature website links, links to buy in the caption online etc.

picture of cocktails are popular, as are real photos that tell the story of your craft.

different story for twitter (i wouldn't bother advertising there).

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  • 8 months later...

Sounds like you're getting visibility but low conversions. Are they actually clikcing through to your flower site? There are many factors that affect conversion and abandonment , especially the message .."the ask."

Facebook's strength comes in a couple factors:

1) over a Billion active users a day dwarfs other channels

2) their data analytics capabilities can micro focus your targeting and messaging , if you want it to.

3) digital marketing techniques can track from view through click to your site to your message to your shopping cart or out and help you track the metrics at each step in the process.

It is not invisible, set & forget marketing as is done in print and radio/tv channels. It's generations more functional and valuable than that (one might argue).

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Hey there,

I'd like to second the advice from Brothers Vilgalys.

Put more simply, use Facebook if you like Facebook. Check in once a day but not more than that. If you don't like using social media then you won't get any benefit from it!

There are lots of other services out there whose user base may suit you. For flowers, check out Instagram and Pinterest. For liquor, think about investing in email marketing instead. Make sure that your social media is well integrated with the rest of your marketing and promotions; it only makes sense as a piece of a marketing plan, not as a marketing plan unto itself.

Good luck!


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Just as a follow up regarding the flower shop--stayed with FB a bit longer but ultimately stopped using it all together.

Why? I spent a lot of time working with the company which handles the website and making sure that we were getting the best bang for our buck on web searches, conversions and reducing the abandoned cart rate. I won't get into specifics, but the flower shop is doing quite well compared to years past and I'm quite proud of how the numbers have been.

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