Here are my three stages of Facebook marketing:
1. Pay to attract local people to my Facebook Page. Here is where I use my age demographic, both genders, a 15 minute drive time, and a bunch of different hobby game interests. These ads are ongoing. The interests need to be updated regularly as Facebook changes. 15 minute drive time is probably a little high, with 10 minutes being more reasonable, but at this stage in my store life, we need to pull farther out.
We currently have 7,773 people following our page, which is far more than a normal store should have. It's one of the top followed store Pages. I used to track that when Pages were new, but I've realized it's more a curse than a blessing. Marketing to a Page with a lot of people not interested in what you're offering locally, just causes problems.
2. Pay to attract local people on my Page to my Groups. If you're on my Page and local, I can assume you're interested in my store. Although I recently had one woman angry about "ads on HER page," after she somehow saw one of our Ding & Dent posts. People are weird (I just ban those people, in case you're wondering about my response).
We have eight special interest groups with 1,663 members. There is a lot of membership overlap, so I can't tell you how many unique customers we have in Groups. I do not allow non-local people in these groups and I'll cull the herd if I find them. "If I wasn't 1,200 miles away, I would totally jump on that." Cut.
3. Relate to Group members. I could say market to group members, and there is some of that, but having people in Groups allows them to have a place to discuss stuff. I'll interrupt their socializing with new releases, event information, interesting articles I find, or even what I'm doing in my game. As we know from social media marketing, being all business all the time drives people away. Add value to their lives, not just your store.
One of my jobs during receiving is taking photos of new arrivals and posting them to each of the related Groups. By lunch time, some of that stuff is usually sold. It's a powerful tool. Of course, everything in the bubble, stays in the bubble. Asking people to spread the word isn't an option in a Group. They have to copy and paste and do their own social media marketing, which rarely happens. It's a big reason why we have difficulty building some of our sale events.
I spend less on this system. When I was focusing exclusively on Page likes, I was spending twice as much money and getting worse results. I've spent about $50,000 over the years building our Facebook community, with none of that aimed at outside systems, like our decrepit web page. It's still nothing like when I would spend 2% of my gross on advertising on cable TV, print, and radio. It's more like half a percent. I think you need to be ready to walk away from Facebook at a moments notice. Good luck with finding a plan B.
I have privacy. I have store owners and other industry professionals following me on the Page. They tend to question every move I make, often publicly. "You put that game on sale? We sell ten a day." Yeah, whatever, go away now. The intimacy of Groups means I can be more frank with customers without the scrutiny of my entire profession. I don't have CEOs of companies calling my twenty minutes after I make a statement about a game line. Yes, they do that.
Where to Begin. Start with your Page. Spend money to get people to know your business exists as a basic marketing exercise. This may be as far as you go if you've got less than 500 or so customers on your Page. Break them out into Groups as needed. There's no need to start a new Group just because someone asks for one. Do it based on need, like when we got far too many photos of painted CMON miniatures in our board game group. I have some Groups with 20 people in them that should really be brought back into the fold, but those ones have their own co-administrators doing the work, so I don't worry about it (never give up control of your Groups).
Finally, don't put all your eggs in this one basket. People are regularly fatigued by Facebook and move on. Cultivate other marketing methods outside the walled garden. Consider Twitter, Instagram, and supporting local causes, like placing ads in school papers. Have a marketing budget and understand it can take weeks or months for efforts to pay off. If you're certain something doesn't work, don't feel like you're a slave to the budget; cut it and find something else. One day it may be Facebook.
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