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How To Waste Time And Money Promoting On Facebook

Let me start by saying I’m a huge fan of marketing on Facebook!

  • I think Facebook pay-per-click is GREAT.
  • I think Facebook post/page promotion is GREAT.
  • Promoting your stuff on Facebook can deliver really good value for money…

Except when it doesn’t!

There’s a big IF here. Promoting your stuff on Facebook can deliver really good value – IF what you’re promoting fits the right model for Facebook!

So What’s The Right Model For Facebook?

Facebook is a social media platform. The key word there is “social“.

People don’t go on Facebook to find stuff they desperately need (and are prepared to part with money for). They go on Google or eBay for that.

As my team member Doug Roberts puts it,

“People don’t have their wallets open on Facebook.”

We go on Facebook in our spare time (or our employer’s time). We go on there to be social, to be entertained, to chat, to be silly, to have a laugh, to be the person we are not when we’re at work.

So if you’re going to promote a business, product, or service on Facebook, it has to fit in with that mode.

I’m actually putting together a “Facebook Consultant Starter Pack”  right now, and here are some tips on the type of business that should be using Facebook

In brief, is your stuff shareable and social? If not, you can probably stop reading.

  • Interesting: You have something curious that people don’t already know about, but is so cool you want, like Tile.
  • Visual: Do you have pictures or videos that people will want to look at and show to others?
  • Emotional: Do you have stories to share that will trigger ordinary people’s emotions and desires? Things that are funny, sexy, cute, stunning, or incredibly cheap all fit the bill.

My Sad, Sad Story: How I Lost $50 And Half A Day Of My Life

(OK, I’ve lost way more than half a day of my life on Facebook, but this is just one particular occasion.)

My wife-to-be, Sally, is already a successful Facebook consultant, and has helped promote several local businesses massively! So we were talking, and I said I’d never put much effort into the Web Design From Scratch Facebook page.

We decided to do an experiment. The page had 2000 likes already, which is so-so (we have local businesses with WAY more exposure than that). More importantly, no one was engaging with the page. (Kind of like a society with a lot of members but no events.)

My Giveaway PromoAnyway, we generated a few ideas, and I decided to start with giving away literally ALL MY STUFF in return for people liking the page and posting just ONE SENTENCE on it.

  • I spent some time to design a promo picture, which I uploaded as a photo.
  • I invested $50 in promoting the page/post.
  • I joined a bunch of Facebook groups called “Internet Marketing” and “Web Designers” and stuff like that (giving a total reach of something like 250,000 people) and cross-posted my picture to all of them.
  • I sat back and waited for my Facebook page to go CRAZY!!

Guess what. You never will, so I’ll tell you.

24 hours later, almost nothing has happened. At the time of writing, my page now has 2033 likes (that’s 33 more than when I started).

And how many people have entered my contest?

None. Zero. Zip. Not a single mother figure!

$2000 worth of life-changing courses? Meh!!

WTFF?!

We talked this through in our Pro Web Design Alliance hangout today (we have 2 of these per week now, more info here). And we came up with the conclusion that Web Design from Scratch, and in fact all our members’ own web design businesses, just don’t fit the ideal Facebook profile. So we’re “shouting into the well”.

What’s more, most of those groups I joined are utterly useless. Thousands of members, all selling, no one listening, no engagement, no community, no use.

It’s like a farmyard full of thousands of cockerels and no hens!

So should YOU be marketing on Facebook? Only if you fit the profile. If not, like me, you can waste a lot of time, and money.

This may help put it into perspective.

A Quick Time Comparison

I decided to compare the few hours I spent yesterday on this Facebook campaign with the few hours it might take me to write an article on Web Design from Scratch, and then compare the results.

Facebook Campaign Results (for 4 hours spent)

Facebook Promo Stats

  • Post reached: 2,100
  • Clicked on post: 52
  • Engaged (liked, commented, shared): 15
  • Total Eyeball Time (generously estimating at 5 seconds per viewer): 2.91 hours

2,100 seems like a decent number, right?  Not when you consider how cheap eyeball time really is on Facebook. People aren’t reading. They’re scanning for something that isn’t crap, something that gives a quick buzz. So 2,100 “views” means almost 2,100 people scrolled right past my post and went “meh”.

So my page now has 33 more likes, for 4 hours and $50 invested.

Let’s compare that to an article.

Content Marketing Results (for 4 hours spent)

I picked – at random – the 25th most viewed article in the last month on this site. It turned out to be “The Difference Between Broad, Phrase, and Exact Match“.

Here are the results from Google Analytics since I posted the article 2 years ago.

content-stats

And here’s the SEO data from the MozBar overlay in Google search results.

SEO data for my page

  • Post reached: (No equivalent statistic)
  • Clicked on Post: 19,170 different people (368x Facebook)
  • Engaged: Up to 87 new links to the site (at least one link is on the site itself)
  • Total Eyeball Time: 20,168 x 5:41 minutes = 114,621 minutes, 1910 hours, or 79.6 days!

So, even in the most generous spirit, my article has already received well over 650 times the eyeball time of the Facebook post.

… And it probably took the same amount of time.

… And it’s still there, drawing new traffic every day.

Which would you rather have?

My Advice To You

Facebook good or bad?There’s no doubt that the right Facebook campaign can deliver huge benefits for the right business, product, or brand.

My whole philosophy about web design and marketing is to do only what’s right in each particular context. That’s how I can guarantee to make all my clients money (which no other web designer does, by the way).

Is Facebook a great marketing medium? Sometimes.

Could Facebook be the best marketing medium for you? Perhaps.

Don’t trust any marketer who tells you they have THE answer. They don’t. Trust your own intuition. Does your business fit the ideal model for Facebook marketing?

About the author

Ben Hunt

Ben is the creator of Web Design From Scratch. He started writing articles about web design to kill time on a long train commute, and is now one of the most influential figures on the subject of effective web design. He has written three books and spoken at multiple conferences internationally.

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