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I put my family business on Facebook. Here’s what happened. (thejournal.ie)
330 points by nreece on May 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

I can certainly understand the author's frustration with Facebook advertising, and for what he's selling, it does make more sense to use Google than Facebook or Twitter.

I don't think that's an indictment of the site, though.

Facebook and Twitter are mediums for sharing and discussion. Traditional commerce feels a bit off, at best. If you want to use them to promote a business, you have to be participating in them on the same level.

I've used Facebook ads to promote a magazine and a podcast. In both cases, I saw much higher returns than with Google. I was asking people to come to the Facebook pages for the magazine and the podcast, and each page had a healthy amount of discussion and community because there was content for people to coalesce around. In our case, the ads did act as a primer for a more viral expansion, because there was something people could do and share on our pages.

I don't think Facebook is ever likely to become a good place for a 150-year-old B-to-B packaging service to do business. That shouldn't spell doom for the packaging service or for Facebook.

Also I think there is a big of a general problem with how people approach internet marketing and that is as a result of hype.

In the real world, there's a difference between promotion and advertising. You promote first and advertise once people know who you are. Then you run well-targetted advertisements aimed at the audience you want to reach. It's easy to forget that on the internet.

Often times people omit the low-cost promotional tools and run straight to the advertising. That's a big mistake in most cases.

I say:

1) Set up a Facebook page for your business 2) Learn to blog 3) When you are ready to try an ad campaign put a lot of legwork into it. Also look into site-specific advertisements for sites in related territory, etc.

Advertising is hard to get right. It always is. I would agree it's not an indictment against Facebook. It is an indictment of the hype of internet advertising though.

Promotion? Like posting an article about a trending topic on link farm thejournal.ie and hire a bunch of mturks to upvote on hackernews.

I like how they claim to have written the article before the facebook news (and only published after) -- and claim their business has been around longer than it has.

I suppose, like everything in life, there is no "one size fits all" solution to advertising. Just because FB works for someone, it doesn't mean it'll work for everyone else (same for Google, Twitter etc) and vice versa.

I wish there was a site, that had a list of online advertising success stories, and what strategies worked in each case. So if I am a 150 year old packaging business, I can simply look up businesses similar to mine, and see what kind of advertising worked for them. Of course, there is still no guarantee that it will work for me, but chances are a bit higher than blindly going to FB.

This would be great but is, unfortunately, naive. These are exactly the kind of learnings that businesses benefit from by keeping private.

Sharing these tips with your competitors, especially in a scenario like this where you'd literally drive up the prices of your own ads, doesn't make much sense.

Just because FB works for someone, it doesn't mean it'll work for everyone else

To me, the question right now is whether Facebook works for anyone.

I'm genuinely interested, because I've seen media-reported stories of many different kinds and sizes of organisations experimenting with advertising with Facebook, and I honestly can't recall a single one that had a happy ending. I realise that, as they say, the plural of anecdote is not data, but anecdotes can certainly suggest a pattern worth investigating.

Only problem is that sites like google that use a bidding system for ad placement - those small businesses don't want your competition there raising the CPM prices. So they may not be likely to share the places where they have a good ad return!

"Facebook and Twitter are mediums for sharing and discussion" I quit Facebook because it was a horrible place to have a discussion, people are conservative/not as honest when they have the eyes of that many people on them.

> everything I read about maximising your web presence and impact told me that SMEs must integrate and embrace social media, especially Facebook

This is where he went wrong; signing up to Facebook because a book said a business needs a Facebook page to be successful online is the wrong approach. If you can't explain why you're making a Facebook page it probably isn't going to work, even if you have no knowledge of Facebook as a platform you should still have knowledge of human behaviour.

We're not a traditional business (we're an internet forum) and we have close to 100,000 likes at the moment, the value of having likes is seriously overstated, we get maybe ~300 click through's when we post an article and engagement is dropping more and more, in fact the same can be said of Twitter, we have ~6000 followers and get similar click through rates when we post something. They're not bad to have (Facebook page, Twitter account) but they aren't worth the time investment in most cases.

It seems now that liking a page on Facebook or following a twitter account are hollow gestures that don't really carry any weight in the future.

Saying it's where he 'went wrong' is a bit unfair. He tried to research the market by the sound of it:

everything I read about maximising your web presence and impact told me that SMEs must integrate and embrace social media

He did his research. He's reporting back it doesn't work.

It seems to me that the entire point of him writing this article was to warn other SMEs to not take that advice at face value.

Exactly, case in point:

My local sandwich deli has now decided to go all "social media". They have a big sign on the counter saying "please like us on facebook" and when you buy a sandwich the staff ask you if you are on facebook.

Something about the whole approach just feels wrong in a way I can't quite put my finger on. It just feels like them asking me to do what is basically a meaningless mechanical chore.

I've been wracking my brains to think of how I would try and exploit social networking if I was running that business but so far I have come up empty.

Auto generate a coupon / QR code for everyone who likes you Then if any of their friends uses that coupon code (by flashing their iPhone at the till) then that original person gets ten points on their loyalty card

I think frankly that a social graph is best employed using graphing friendly rewards - mostly that is the social dopamine thing in our brains, but affiliates also work

In fact - is this being done?

Indeed. Check out: http://www.urbanpiper.com/fe/business/

Disclaimer: I am the cofounder of this company.

Looks great - good luck

One of my friends is working on customer rewards program service startup utilizing social graph. (You may contact me if you are interested.)

We are currently in beta testing with Tenqyu

QR codes are a crock. This gimmick is already fading away as a momentary curiosity.

To start, exclusive coupons for their Facebook fans, posted every so often.

Afterward, perhaps a create-a-andwich contest. The winner is voted on by the community and the sandwich is available for a limited time. Successful sandwiches are added to the permanent menu.

Engagement for a sandwich place can be light. Just simple things that either directly benefit fans or don't require much from them.

I've been wracking my brains to think of how I would try and exploit social networking if I was running that business but so far I have come up empty.

IME, social networks are awesome for raising publicity if you can get your real fans to tell their friends about you, if whatever you do is something that will be genuinely interesting to those with common interests (which of course friends tend to have). It's a networking effect, a real-time version of good old word-of-mouth advertising, which has always been by far the best kind to have.

Weaker personal actions such as likes, follows, mailing list subscriptions and all that jazz might have some benefit, but I don't believe it's anything like as much. I'm thinking this is because these are personal expressions of interest, but in reality they probably have little if any networking power.

I lack faith that any sort of paid Facebook advertising will even have a positive RoI, based on a few small-scale experiments that I personally know about and on media reporting of larger organisations not doing any better. I suspect a lot of people treat these ads much as they would treat junk mail: just another form of spam to be auto-ignored, and probably subject to banner blindness by now.

Admittedly, I'm not a huge Facebook user, so maybe this is ignorance on my part, but...

If you're already in the store buying a sandwich, why are they even promoting the Facebook account? When I buy a car, the salesman doesn't ask me to go watch their commercial on TV afterwards.

Does the number of "likes" factor into how often their ads get served?

By liking them, you're advertising them. Your "like" factors into your friends getting an update saying "jlarocco likes the Super Sandwich Stall", and thinking "huh, I should go and try that place".

It's somewhat meaningless now, admittedly: I might not speak for everyone, but I've basically tuned out anyone "liking" anything on Facebook as white noise.

> They have a big sign on the counter saying "please like us on facebook" and when you buy a sandwich the staff ask you if you are on facebook.

Personally, I dislike this sort of approach. If I need to like something to get something in return (sometimes a coupon or a download), I usually un-like the thing immediately thereafter and try to scrub all traces of it from my wall.

Yes, this is going against the spirit of the exchange, but it's my FB account (in as much as I can say it is), not yours.

Not to mention the pathetic lack of self respect. Begging people to "like" you?


It's just a codeword, as you are well aware. "Please add yourself to our unsolicited mailing list", would at least be honest.

I have seen a gas station with no less than 9 big flags in front of it, saying that you get $X off when you check in at Facebook. I guess it might work because you read the name of a friend in the same sentence as the business. It might work even better with sandwiches, because that's something you can actually recommend. (Gas is all the same.)

Source: Taiwan

"Likes" are almost as meaningless as karma is on reddit.

Especially as there is no dislikes. What do 30, 1000 or 10000 likes tell about your company ? At what point do they measure success ?

Well, in the case of one partner of my startup, it tells you that the KPI for a given marketing campaign is number of likes added, and some companies are willing to pay out the nose to get them.

I think, if as a business you have not bought your likes, then they do imply something.

For example, some of our competitors have around 10 times to 50 times the likes as us. But the difference in reactions to a post we might make is no where as much - they could be just 1.5 times to 2 times or even less.

Also, businesses indulging in purchasing likes, to showcase their fan base(really?) has perhaps contributed a lot to FB Ad purchase so far. So the past year or so, can be called the 'like' wave of FB/Social. The future is interesting!

i don't use facebook so correct me if i'm wrong, but doesn't liking a page have a similar effect to following on twitter, in that people who have liked your page will see your updates in their feed? the number of people who like you is irrelevant maybe, but if they're all subscribed to your marketing updates that's not nothing.

theoretically yes, but in reality it isn't that simple. Through Facebook insights I can see that for a post we made last week (to the page with 100k likes that I mentioned above) was shown in the timelines of 20,000 people and was "engaged" by just under 400 (this means they either "liked", clicked the link or shared or commented on it). So while it isn't "nothing" it's substantially less than you would expected.

Put another way, you got 400 customer interactions for free, many resulting in additional sharing of your content. Isn't that worth something in a world where an Adwords clickthrough can cost $10+?

All the sharing in the world isn't worth anything if people don't actually buy.

>Once my helpers stopped liking, I had expected the viral phenomenon of Facebook to generate more and more likes as the contagion of their likes spread to their friends and colleagues via their own Facebook pages.

You expected your page to go "viral". Your page for packaging products ... to go viral? The people who care about your packaging products are far between on Facebook. The people who care about packaging products will go into google and type "packaging products", or come from your existing referral base, or from leads generated by your sales department. It isn't critical for every business to have a facebook page or a twitter account.

// Cats love boxes, maybe you can go viral by hitching your wagon to that meme bandwagon =)

he would need a blog in between to hype the product.An article that talks about how their trucks only use bio-fuel.

Clearly something is not right, so I decide to view the profiles of all those who clicked the ads.

Whoa, what? Advertisers can see my Facebook profile if I click their link? Talk about oversharing...

No, they can't. This is a small page so he just assumed all new likes came from advertising.

Page owners can see who likes them, and if your info is public they can view them as any other fb user.

I'm thinking he might have conflated two points: you can see the demographic breakdowns of people who click various ads, and the list of people who 'like' your page is, of course, public.

They can see a list of people that like they page. They can only see the information you've made public on your Facebook profile just like anybody else who is on Facebook but not on your friends list.

Agreed, this is really what jumped out at me. I had no idea.

Without wishing to be rude, have you not been paying attention? This is what facebook /does/.

First, there's two other comments that would say otherwise. Can anyone definitively say whether this is true or not? I'm curious as well.

Second, your question doesn't add to the discussion (thus a downvote). Mind your manners please.

I work with fb ads, there is no way to get any information from people who click on your ads apart from the fact they fit the demographics you set on the ad.

This has nothing to do with Facebook. They just picked the wrong marketing channel. How do you expect a "great" response for a packaging business (that too B2B) on facebook.

There are effective two modes of advertising on the internet: 1. where the user seeks (search ads etc)

2. you push the ad on the consumer (content ads, facebook ads as of now)

#1 is clear and has a good enough match always.

To be on #2 - you got to appeal well to the audience. Facebook works wonders for food, travel, gifts and more. All things that qualify for impulsive buys. It is important to understand the marketing channel.

I think we'll end up seeing a few more of these stories before we get sick of the trend and bury them.

Facebook's only real profit driver at the moment is advertising to it's captive user base, however the ad's aren't that good to start with. It feels half hearted like they've gone, 'hey we'll stick some ad's....there', that's great they're all in one place at the right where I can ignore them.

I think a lot of people will start revising how much money they want to spend in terms of advertising and pull back from the least effective, which could very well be Facebook.

(interesting side note, the most effective corporate Twitter accounts I've found are the ones that don't bother trying to sell the product every 10 minutes, see Betfair Poker and Waterstones UK for good examples).

> they're all in one place at the right where I can ignore them.

This is exactly how I feel. The only time I ever click a Facebook ad is to tell Facebook that it's not what I'm looking for.

We seem to be getting more of these types of articles. I haven't seen one yet that declares facebook advertising a raging success for a business.

All of the responses to these articles are usually "they're doing it wrong," which is more of an indictment of facebook than the multiple users who try out advertising and see no positive results at all.

I agree, this is where people are not understanding the issue. If Facebook is to make it on advertising then it needs to be understood by all how to "do it right" or it will fail. Facebook is different than Google and this article shows what I'm willing to bet is a common result, advertisers do not see a decent return on their investment. If the people paying the money don't see the return they need, or expect, then that's a serious problem for Facebook.

If I had a lot of success with ads on facebook, I would keep it quiet, so negative reviews (which there are quite a few these days) lower prices.

Another thing to consider is that facebook was (still is?) in a quiet period due to IPO, and once it's over we will definitely see some good examples of how facebook ads work.

"I made $100,000 with Facebook ads in 3 months". Would you like to hear how? (True story by the way.) But like you said, people are reluctant to share successes, by fear of being copied.

Yes, I would like to hear how.

You convince people to give you 100 dollars to teach them how to make 100K in three months using ads on Facebook.

We did a similar campaign for our family business, with a much smaller budget (and area). We received a lot of likes, I think we spent $50 total and got about 150 new likes. The value for us was not click-throughs to our online store, but the ability to directly communicate with our customers. We run special Facebook specials, and let people know when we get new products they might be interested in. If we have something we really want people to see, we can run a sponsored story. We've had a few people come in looking for deals we've posted on Facebook, so we know at least some people see them. I'm not sure if it has paid for itself as far as pure revenues are concerned, but I think keeping customers informed and aware of your existence is a little undervalued currently.

Something's amiss in the article.

First there's this: "Result? Two! €160 quid for two clicks, each of whom looked at two site pages."

Then: "Clearly something is not right, so I decide to view the profiles of all those who clicked the ads. They hit one common spot – they were all in the UK. But they were aged from 13 to about 70, many were unemployed or in education, we even had a Muslim fundamentalist who is very concerned about things in Pakistan. Lots and lots of doting mothers with FB pages full of cutesy little life mottoes. "

Wait: is it 2 clicks, or 200 clicks??!?

Actually, I find it somewhat concerning that advertisers can see the exact profile page of those clicking on their ads. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

You can't. He's confused.

The first refers to people who visited the website from the Facebook page.

One is referring to facebook page clicks. The other is talking about those who followed through to his site.

> we even had a Muslim fundamentalist who is very concerned about things in Pakistan

I'm never clicking another FB ad again - it's kinda scary how much information the advertisers can get about their fans!

As mentioned by others in these comments, it's when you "like" something that the owner of that page can see who you are. If you click an ad they can't. I think.

We had a similar level of traction adverstising nametoolkit.com (shameless plug but we all do it on HN). The visitors we got from Facebook seemed completely lost, but yet the cost per click (CPC) we ended up paying was notably higher than the CPC from adwords.

We tried Bing also, and they were really great at customer service; some guy talked to me for over an hour about various things we could try and they always got back quickly, but the CPCs were absurdly high.

Your site is currently displaying a 500 Internal server error.

Thanks for the heads up. Our monitoring system was misbehaving. :|

Social media strikes me as inappropriate for the vast majority of B2B businesses.

In the course of some freelance work I came across a dental supply company where you could "share" or "like" every single product. I have yet to see business case for a customer publicly "liking" spit cups or custom-engraved toothbrushes. Or their FB friends wanting to know about it. Or any of that resulting in a sale.

For any marketing to work, you have be where your potential customers are. Yes, technically your B2B customer is on FB or Twitter, but for personal, not business reasons. Would you want your company's office supply company calling you at home?

Online marketing dollars for B2B are much better spent on search ads, where you have demonstrated interest and intent, or on display ads on industry-specific sites, or a social media presence where an industry-specific community already exists, e.g. on forums, or talking directly to your customers on Twitter.

I actually don't think that advertising is Facebook's future. The intent isn't there in the same way it is with a Google search. However, I do think Facebook has a bright future with payments: imagine "Pay with Facebook" buttons throughout the web, with Facebook's business as essentially being the IRS of the internet. They could even require sites that integrate with Facebook Platform (which is very powerful and valuable) to use Facebook Payments in the same way Apple requires Apps to use in-app purchasing. No more credit card numbers to worry about: just one-click purchasing tied to the real-identity account you're already connected to. I have no trouble seeing that as a great business, and they've barely begun to scratch the surface there. They could even move into physical transactions if they bring back the Presence RFID dongle or start issuing pin/chip Facebook-linked cards.

I think they've got a ways to go before they can become ubiquitous for payments in general. They have a problem where a ton of people just don't trust them - and IMHO you've got to have trust to become a successful payments platform.

"Yet in the poll of U.S. adults published Tuesday, only 13 percent said they trust Facebook 'completely' or 'a lot' when it comes to keeping their personal information private. A majority, or 59 percent, said they trust Facebook 'only a little,' or 'not at all.'" http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-57437362/lack-of-trus...

That said, Paypal isn't exactly loved by many, and they seem to be doing well, so maybe I'm holding FB to too high a standard...

Someone else just mentioned that to me the other day, and it makes some sense. But isn't it the case that television ads don't have intent associated with them either? And those seemed to work for a long time even though they were less targeted. So while intent might be a major factor, it seems it can't be the primary difference.

Everyone responding to these stories says that the advertiser did things wrong. If that's the case, what I'd really like to see is a story by someone who's run a successful Facebook campaign. What they did and what measurable impact it had on their business.

Facebook ads DO work! Use facebook advertising, then start flooding the internet with "meh, facebook ads did not work for my company" articles and, BOOM, there comes the traffic.

One of the most important thing I learned when doing advertising is to not be a pioneer (as the saying goes "they get shot in the back".) Particularly in small business advertising.

If you see your competitors (or people will similar products or services) using a particular medium it's usually a good bet to at least try. But even if you try you have to give it a test of quite a bit of time (and that depends on the product and amount of profit as well and other factors).

A good example of this is "back in the day" yellow page advertising. If you look at what the YP called "a developed" heading (like Plumbers/Printers/Lawyers) you will see many ads year after year that vary in size including many full page ads. So that is a sign that's a good bet for advertising if that's your business. Especially when you find out the high cost. And I built an entire business based upon starting with a small ad in a developed heading in the yellow pages. Ad went in. Calls came in. (Expensive but worth it. Picked up a major account and did it for maybe 10 years until I sold the company). To me it made sense that if year after year small businesses were spending big dollars to be in the YP that was proof that it worked (and to mention again it did work extremely well for me). Of course when your competitors who don't advertise ask you you downplay totally the value and bitch and moan to throw them off the scent.

I would suspect FB works the same way. (In fact that was my experience using fb for a particular product but I can't say I gave it much of a chance though but take that as another data point).

I also had a similar experience with "card decks" those mailers that go out to businesses offering products and services. Worked very well. Sent out a card in multiple decks for a product that others offered and leads came back just like that.

I've seen a lot of these articles about the effectiveness of facebook ads in the months leading up to - and now in the days following - the ipo. The recent ones sometimes come across as articles by people who are short the stock, trying to encourage a sell-off. Most of the time, they come across as people simply justifying to themselves why they will not or do not own shares in the company. And it's perfectly fine to write about why you won't buy facebook stock.

It's just interesting the amount of noise that goes along with the public markets. You have to take articles/news with an even bigger grain of salt when a public company is involved in the noise. You just don't know peoples' motives. I'm not saying that I think this guy is short FB, I'm just saying its possible, and that I didn't see as many of these articles one or two years ago, even though millions of SMEs were trying their hand at facebook ads back then.

Reading this article and giving it some thought, gives me a small "aha" moment. Many people have compared FB Ads to TV Ads. Below are two specifics, I think, that will apply to FB Ads in that context:

1. TV had that kind of control as to interrupt people and give them no choice. But despite that they have to fight against people switching channels, as soon as an Ad appears on one.

The difference in case of FB is that one can easily choose to ignore the Ads. As you and me do. (Is it to fight that ignoring of the Ads, that on several occasions it is laced with a mild sexual overtone, at least the way the picture looks?)

2. By extension, of the TV Ad anology, FB Ads are for big brands. Meaning CPC is irrelevant, but big brands compete to be just visible to people, by just being there on the RHS. (This one I have not read anywhere so far. But surely it can't be only me who has thought of it)

Is it just my impression or is there a barrage of bad publicity for Facebook all over social media today?

The key to success on social media is to have a product, service or person that people want to connect with. No amount of marketing or messaging will change that.

I don't foresee B2B businesses doing that well on social media, particularly in such a dull area. I don't think FB is to blame for this.

Part of my responsibilities are to manage social media for my company. We don't do ads on Facebook or Twitter, and the likes and followers keep coming in. We have consumer facing products. My strategy certainly amplifies our success on social media, but I couldn't do much without something strong to build around.

He would have more success with Google AdWords and a strong Web presence in general. We run Google AdWords, and I'm pleased with the results. We've never strongly considered ads on FB or Twitter.

Here's my thing. Facebook is new to advertising (and making money for that matter). Expecting that they start out on the same level as Google is wrong. Dead wrong. Microsoft has been trying to compete with Google in advertising for years and is only succeeding in burning money. But FB is new, has momentum, and has a lot of talented people focused on making the product as best as possible. They will find a way to make boatloads off their product, and I imagine as long as Zuckerberg has a say, they'll continue to be product and customer focused rather than worrying about balance sheets. I think this will win in the end.

Or they'll implode and we'll all likely end up without jobs.

Unfortunately, he lacked basic marketing strategy. Before determining what platform to be on (and the Internet and social media is not all Facebook) you need to understand your audience and your objectives. For a traditional B2B industry, Facebook is not the first place to be (let alone a page per product line). If he wanted to be on social media (and first getting his web presence in order should be priority), LinkedIn is a much better place to be. But, more importantly, he should have hired a marketing strategist (a real one, not some "guru" kid who knows how to use Facebook but someone who understands marketing fundamentals) to work

Facebook is a medium for brand awareness. It's just like the traditional TV adverts. You don't really expect the viewers to run to the store and buy your product after viewing the advert. You want them to remember your product when they shop for their needs in your category.

People are getting bad ROI with Facebook because, they are comparing it to the ROI to the ads on Google. Ads on Google tend to have much higher ROI because they usually represent users already in need of your category of product. This is like people handing you shopping brochures when you go to a mall. You are clearly out to shop and hence the ROI on brochures will be higher.

Sounds like he doesn't know anything about online advertising.

  "The template tells me I have targeted 178,000 people who within my interest range and selected demographics."
This is much too large of an targeted audience. Finely tuning interests is a must. His first mistake.

  "Two! €160 quid for two clicks, each of whom looked at two site pages."
Either he's bidding in a extremely competitive niche (unlikely) or he's paying CPM and not CPC. This was his second mistake. On CPC that would have likely only costed him €1.60.

Facebook handed him the gun and he shot himself in the foot.


It does take a bit of work to fine tune each campaign & ads.

- test your images. drop those with ctr less than .06%

- test your age groups. look at your customers and decide the groupings.

- use precise interest. think your competitors, brand names, etc.

With $40 per day, if you split test properly, you should be able to find the audience at CPM $0.20, other than PPV, there's not a lot traffic sources than can give you such precise targeting.

PROOF: http://imgur.com/0dFFE - I'm still working on the CTR to .1% ... beside Conversion & Brand is what matter, NOT likes.

What I find interesting about Facebook pages is the brutal honesty that consumers can sometimes share (as the brand watches frantically and tries to do damage control on comments). It's like the opposite of smart advertising: giving every prospective customer an easy place to go see what people really think. For example some new diet beverages set up pages, and after reading enough comments about how horrible the drinks tasted I never needed to buy even one to try myself.

Facebook ads are good for facebook games and other facebook apps, though. This is not a small market, and a significant revenue for facebook. Otherwise, it's true that google ads will get you better results for targeted ads. It's clear to me that facebook is not going to make lots of money from advertising. They do have the potential to become a huge media distribution platform for entertainment (which they already do for social games and 3rd parties like spotify).

> we even had a Muslim fundamentalist who is very concerned about things in Pakistan.

So, does having an interest in your homeland make you a fundamentalist all of a sudden? I'm Pakistani. I read and share stories about Pakistan all the time. Its offensive to assume that because I have an interest in stories about my homeland (which happens to be a breeding ground for religious fundamentalists), I'm a religious fundamentalist as well. (I'm not at all religious, actually.)

The article is a cautionary tale about the myths around using social media to generate sales. There feels to be a belief that if I am on twitter, Facebook etc this will boost my image and sales. Reading the saga of others social media advertising is expensive and ineffective.

The pain is in first attracting the right people to click your advert. Then you need to get them to buy something. With such low conversion rates, the cost per click is too high for many to justify.

This article (and the one preceding it) is clearly part of an SEO campaign. For all of you who say the "author" didn't do his research, how can you explain the hits and search engine ranking this puff piece by an experienced copy writer got. He'll own the online packing supplies in Ireland & UK now. The SEO marketer earned his money, and a measly 1200 euro spent on Facebook will probably net more profit from google pagerank within the month.

Facebook is mainly for "fun stuff", you don't go there to think about dull work related products/services. It's no shock that Google Ads are performing better. You grab the users attention by offering ads for what he is/might be looking for at that exact moment. LinkedIn would be a lot more interesting option for them to look at than Facebook.. That's a no-brainer. Facebook is good if you sell women's shoes/fashion items etc...

"Time to look at the number of our own website visits clicked through from the Facebook pages. Result? Two! €160 quid for two clicks, each of whom looked at two site pages."

If your wanted end result is for people to check our your website, use fb ads to link people to your website. Better yet, you can use a page post link ad that displays both your fanpage (with a "Like this page" button) and the link to your external site, with a thumbnail.

This is what happens when business owners don't educate themselves before venturing into social marketing.

Facebook is not a one stop marketing shop. It won't light a fire under a business unless a) that business is worthy of the fire b) that marketer is very proficient.

It sounds like neither a nor b were satisfied in this case.

Were the owner to spend more time educating his or herself on social marketing, I feel they would have received better results.

It does seem he did some research, how much is unknown. I'm curious, at what level of education must one have to successfully advertise on Facebook? Because if it's a serious learning curve then that's a problem for Facebook to solve if it wants more advertising dollars.

True but most businesses are small business without the time or resources to really do the research. Every unemployed twenty-something is now becoming a "Social Media Marketer" and telling small business owners they have to get on Facebook to boost sales. Along with that every business blog promotes Facebook and Twitter as excellent ways to boost business despite the fact that it only works for certain types of businesses and even then those that it works for need to do a lot of homework before they get the promised results.

I don't blame any business for a lack of success on Facebook. I blame everyone promoting it as a business booster. When the whole world is screaming that you've got to get on Facebook you can't blame a small business owner for believing it.

How can you not blame the business? If you are big enough to start a business, you should be big enough to run it right. That means doing research before entering a marketing channel.

I think making use of the social media for your business is not so much about placing advertisements in these media. I think it is more about being available for engagement with your clients in these media. Being there in whatever their preferred media of communication happens to be - twitter, facebook, email, phone, a chat on the website.

I love getting my verizon support on twitter rather than on phone.

IMO, this experiment would have worked on LinkedIn. The targeted ads I see when I'm in there are way applicable to the "professional me" than FB or Google ads. LinkedIn just makes more sense for a B2B marketing campaign. I'm sure the numbers (of users) are all smaller, but the user characteristics that lead to getting shown an ad are better discriminators in the B2B case.

Worst prt is he may be done with marketing after such experience.

He will miss out on the truth. Which is that direct marketing will help get the results he wants.

A pity.

Direct marketing doesn't get discussed much on HN and realted posts don't seem to get much traction (c.f. http://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/all&q=direct+mark...). I think it's a topic that could use a could hand-holding tutorial for startups. How to select a DM agency, how to build a target mailing list, and so forth.

Most likely because a lot of startups don't know how to use it.

But don't worry. Im working on that.

In the beginning "likes" had value because there was no incentive to lie. Now they are so gamed they've become meaningless. Couple that with the sheer number of "friends" who are little more than strangers and it's no wonder social reputation counts for very little. You get better recommendations from experts in forums - in the form of text, not scores.

Funny, I know many people who are pimping their FB pages like crazy, and clamoring for likes. I ask them why?

They tell me: "because Google is getting smarter and looking at social signals for rankings. I don't give a damn about those FB fans.. it's all vanity metrics. I want the damn rankings!"

> I decide to view the profiles of all those who clicked the ads

What? I thought advertisers didn't have access to that info. That's pretty creepy. And while he's talking about them in the article, he should have thrown in their names and links to their profiles for good measure.

He clearly did not do ANY real testing, of refined metrics (target people who like his competitor, age range, etc. etc.). So the counterpoint is someone who is killing it on FB ads - and can they blog about it well enough for said 60yr old business owner to adopt.

This article is well discussed by industry pros on this blog http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/9949-facebook-s-real-ad-prob...

"...a pretty boring business-to-business industrial sector"

The outcome was predictable from reading the first sentence. This is not a story about any failure of Facebook, it's a story about not understanding how to market to an appropriate demographic.

i bet he will get more business from this one free HN mention than with anything he can do on FB, especially in his business. not all business models lend themselves to social marketing, not by a long shot. i'm a developer for a US floor heating manufacturer and we recently started the whole social thing, other than people posting reviews on our fb page and liking us (which is good), there have been no direct sales...it's just a bad fit.

This website doesn't seem to think bylines are very important.

The author is named Peter Faulkner.

No, a tag blob not a substitute for a proper byline.

At the bottom of the article is a short bio of the guy. A bit further down is a proper "About the author" box with a picture and his Twitter handle.

Yes, that's fine, but it doesn't replace a byline, which is before the article.

Multiple mistakes... how can it charge it you with 160 for two clicks; on Facebook you choose how much you want to expend for click; so this makes no sense.

The demographics between 13 and 60? Never, just never select to show ads for people below 20; they are always click-happy and with empty pockets (a.k.a. no conversions)

I like this post, and I think it probably mirrors quite a number of businesses. That said, I know a business that is making substantial money off of Facebook advertisements... because they are selling them.

cool insight

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