Category Archives: Marketing

Tips, hints and observations on the world of marketing and advertising.

Using Facebook To Market Your Small Business? Be Careful

In my day job, I work as a marketing consultant and sales executive for a group of popular radio stations in Ontario, Canada. Understandably, I am asked about other various forms of media a lot, and I’m happy to offer my perspective, as I have experience in buying and implementing most of them. I also believe that each communication tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, and that a healthy mix as part of a strategic plan is probably best.

But when I am asked about Facebook for marketing small businesses, two words immediately come to mine: Be careful.

I recently asked, in an online poll on my website (www.kevinbulmer.com) and through comments received from Twitter (and, yes, Facebook) how people currently felt about Facebook. I asked because I wanted to get a feel for why, if at all, people still used that particular social media tool, because I feel its important to know, as marketers, why people are (or are not) engaged with any particular media. Marketers want to go where the people are. Or at least, where they think they are (but I’ll get to that).

The average response I got back more-or-less matched own personal feelings about Facebook: that I keep it more as an extended “address book” for far-flung family and friends than anything else.

However, there were a few people who responded to my question by cutting right to the heart of the matter, including this response on Twitter (read the bottom post first, then the top):

02-21-15 - d74g0n Twitter post

Now, this may be of no consequence to you if you’re on Facebook simply to know that you can reach out distant family members without having to keep track of phone numbers and email address (although, you may not be seeing all the content you wish to see, but we’ll get to that later). But if you’re running a small business and are being tempted by the seemingly inexpensive allure of growing your following on Facebook, sit up and pay attention.

And be careful.

If you’re thinking of paying for a Facebook ad to grow your business page’s following, please watch this video from Veritasium first:

Here’s a bit about my own marketing experience on Facebook:

From 2007 through 2011, I was part of an event management company called CPT Entertainment Inc. We ran a variety of consumer-based trade show-type events, and used Facebook as part of many of our marketing campaigns, along with radio, outdoor signage, TV and some print. Back then we felt we got decent value for our Facebook advertising. One example would be the time we arranged to have one of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s NASCAR race cars on display at one of our events. We used Facebook to put an ad out that targeted people who “liked” Dale Earnhardt Jr (or NASCAR in general) and lived within a certain geographical radius of our event. We felt we got good response to the ads. We could tell from the analytics and the comments we received, as well as through the attendance at the event itself.

But, as indicated in the Veritasium video (above), things have changed since then.

Forward to present day: I have a Facebook page for my own business, Kevin Bulmer Enterprises. Whenever I post something there, Facebook only serves it to between 5 and 10% of the people who actually “like” the page. I know this because it gives me those analytics with each post. And it always –ALWAYS – asks me if I want to “boost” the post to have seen more often.

Facebook says 235 people “Like” this page. A modest amount, sure, but note how immediate is the offer to is promote (i.e., “buy” more exposure) the page. I’d be more likely to consider that if my updates were first delivered to the people who already agreed to see them …

 

In other words, it wants me to pay to have my post seen by people who’ve already “Liked” the page.

Huh.

I tried it. Once. It was money wasted.

If 235 people 'Like' this page,

If 235 people ‘Like’ this page, why are these posts reaching only 17 and 40 people, respectively?

In fairness, I do believe it’s up to me to re-engage people. But still, I can’t help thinking that if someone had “liked” my page (and thereby given consent to see my updates), they should at least occasionally see that I’ve offered some new content, without me having to pay for it, shouldn’t they?

When I think about it in reverse, I looked to the pages that I’ve personally “Liked,” and realized that there are a number of them that almost never show up in my Facebook News Feed, even though I want to see their updates (to try to combat this, I leave my News Feed set to “Most Recent” and scroll all the way through, as opposed to “Top Stories”).

Hmm.

Still, even though I consider myself informed and I knew I was not having a good experience with my “Kevin Bulmer Enterprise” page, I decided to take it one step further and try a little experiment, figuring that maybe if I started something from scratch, my experience would be different.

Here’s what I did:

I created a Facebook page for a musical rock and roll project I’d been working on for a while, called “Mutineer” (I’ll write more about it another time). I posted it as a rock band page, put up some content and then set about creating an ad campaign. I designed an ad for the page, set a budget of $10 to be spread over a week and set the ad to target only people who ‘Liked’ the bands Extreme or Volbeat, were 18 years of age and up and lived in either Canada, Great Britain, Australia or Denmark.

Here’s a screen capture of the Facebook page for the yet-to-exist band I call “Mutineer.” Note the “Boost Post” option that accompanies every update. Sidenote: I just now realized how the song lyric that was posted here (which is a real lyric) is very appropriate to this article.

I thought that a pretty specific set of criteria.

And so I found it very interesting that the first page ‘Like’ I got was from a “person” named Denis Johnson. Denis has no posts on his timeline, yet he has 39,955 Facebook page likes (including 2,766 Music “likes”).

I’ll say that again: this “person” has over 39,000 Facebook page Likes.

Do you know any actual human being that actually “likes” over 39,000 pages on Facebook?! Neither do I.

Here’s a sample of some of the other “people” who liked this page shortly afterward:

– Choudry Khalid Mahmood Anjum (Page likes: 10,139)
– Sandra Berdan (Page likes: 8,712)
– Jango Gurug Gurug (Page likes: 5,961)
– Saif AL Hakeem (Page likes: 5,290)
– Saddi Mir (Page likes: 5,615)
– Tahir Rasool (Page likes: 6,748)

If you want to check these for yourself, go to http://www.mutineer.ca and click on the images of those who like the Mutineer Facebook page, on the widget on the right-hand side of the page

Do you think I’m likely to run into any of these people at an upcoming Extreme or Volbeat concert? I highly doubt it.

By contrast, I looked at my own personal Facebook profile and saw that I had 96 different page “Likes” (and, as noted earlier, I don’t even see all the updates from those pages). I can’t even imagine how much work it would be to get my volume of “Likes” up to, say, 5,000!

It wasn’t long before I realized I was only experiencing exactly what the Veritasium video (above) warns about, and so I cancelled the rest of my ad campaign. I’d wasted enough money.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Facebook does not have value to businesses. What I am saying is that, if you’re going to us Facebook as a marketing tool, be careful. Accept that there are no real short cuts with Facebook any more than there are with radio, television or any other medium.

Quality wins. The cream rises. Quick fixes are a fallacy.

I’ll be the first to admit I use Facebook poorly. I’ve thought many times about deleting my page, but have decided to keep it going simply because, every now and then, someone new finds me there. But as for growing my business, I still find that the best technique is to get out in the community and get to know people.

Are you determined to grow your following on Facebook? Then roll up your sleeves. Engage people and other organizations. Add value for them. Create and share good content. Interact. You can build a monster following on Facebook, but you better do it organically.

In other words, I’m sorry, but you have to actually work at it.

Or, try and grow the quick way at your own peril.

Toes in the Twitter Pool. So Far … Not Bad

Turns out, there is more good stuff out there online than I thought.

I’m both ashamed and excited to admit that.

Shut Up and TweetAt the suggestion of one of my local radio clients, I recently purchased and read Phil Pallen’s book, “Shut Up and Tweet.” I enjoyed it and found it helpful. Step by step, I’ve been implementing much of what Pallen suggests, for just as I like to get my radio advertising clients thinking outside of their own heads, I appreciate someone showing me a way to get outside of mine, especially when it relates to an area with which I’ve little expertise. Thanks to Pallen’s book, I’ve learned a lot in a short time.

I started a Twitter account back in 2009 but had left it largely dormant for the last many years. About a month or so ago, I finally decided it was time to make a more concerted effort to build a presence through social media, both for my own sake and so I would have more real-world experience to share with my other clients, as I get asked about Social Media a lot.

For me, it’s crawl, walk, run. But so far, so good.

Twitter profile
One of the reasons I’d stayed away from Twitter specifically was my perception that I’d be overwhelmed and discouraged by the sea of anonymous negativity I see from people on popular subjects. I want no part of that, and though I’m sure some share of it will come my way as my participation expands and grows, it’s clear to me that I had underestimated how many positive thoughts and helpful resources can be accessed online if one is only willing to look. In Pallen’s book, he makes a pretty solid case for using social media as a means of building your network and, as a result, expanding your potential for future business. It’s also a great way to find and meet new people who are sharing great experiences and doing good things.

So in addition to recommending Phil Pallen’s “Shut Up and Tweet” to anyone interested in exploring Twitter and brand marketing, I thought I’d share some other helpful things I’ve found just by implementing his recommended processes. I wasn’t expecting to find so much so fast, but I’m glad I have.

Here’s a summary from the last week:

“5 Ways to Let Go of Perfectionism and Still Excel at Anything”

I’ve long struggled with just letting go and allowing “good enough” to be “good enough.” I’m proud of the attention I pay to detail but can be honest in that I now recognize that I’ve allowed it to limit me at times, too. This article spoke to me quite clearly. A fine effort by the good folks at Huffington Post.

“Ray Bradbury on Creative Purpose in the Face of Rejection”
By Maria Popova

“The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.”

We’re all prone to thinking others have it easier, and that we should be further along than we are at the present moment. I took comfort in these thoughts from the legendary Bradbury, thanks to Maria Popova, and the good folks at BrainPickings.org.

“10 Tactics to Better Work-Life Balance” via Fizzle

Sadly (but thankfully), it took a divorce for me to understand and implement many of the things in this terrific article. For me, cliché as it may sound, nothing in business is anywhere near as enticing for me as simply being Dad to my two sons. More work can come later, when they’re older and so am I. If I were to die today, I’d have no regrets at all about how I’d prioritized my time with my kids first. There is no job title that, for me, can trump being “Dad.” But that’s just me.

This is a great article by the folks at Fizzle.co

“8 Profound Life Lessons I Learned from a Year of Soul-Searching”
by Freeman LaFleur

Now 40 years of age, I’ve been searching my soul for many, many years. I’m still learning, and likely will always be. Point number two in this great article by Freeman LaFleur resonates with me particularly. What about you?

These are just some of the great pieces I’ve come across in the early going of looking for helpful, positive people with something valuable to share. I look forward to discovering more, and if you have suggestions of your own, please feel welcome to pass them along in the Comments section below.

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