Facebook

Please Stop Wasting Money On Facebook Ads

It seems harmless: why not ‘boost’ that Facebook post for $5?

But I’m here to tell you that not only is this a potential giant waste of money but of your time and effort.

The exercise I am going to propose you do is a complete buzz kill but I’ll do it with you to show you how important it is.

I think it’s important to think of the following numbers related to your business.

Average Sale Price
I have an ecommerce site. After paying credit card fees and expenses, I make about $2/order. (I’m not in it for the money, guys, and I have plans for it, I swear!)

Conversion Rate/Lead to Customer Rate
Of the roughly 3,000 people going to the site I’ve tracked, we’ve gotten 55 orders. So that’s a 1.8% conversion.

Ad Budget And Cost Per Click
Clearly I have some kind of budget per month (let’s say for round numbers $100) but I clearly don’t want to pay more for an ad than I am making so let’s say I’m willing to pay $1/click as a maximum bid.

So let’s stick this in a calculator, shall we? I used this one on Hubspot but just Google ‘Facebook ads calculator’ and you’ll find a ton. I adjusted the sliders and got my result:

It doesn’t take a genius to see that to buy Facebook ads, I am losing money. Which is why for this site I don’t.

And what’s great about the calculator thing is you can adjust certain variables. Like what if I lower the amount I’m willing to pay for a click to $0.50 instead of $1?

Wohoo, I’m losing less money! What if I made $5 per order instead of $2? What if I increased the conversion rate on my website (ie made sure more of our website visitors bought something)? I can see what changes actually move the needle and adjust my website and marketing strategy accordingly.

Now paying $5 for an extra 3,000 eyeballs (ie the boost) doesn’t force you to think about how effective your website is, how good your pricing is, and other admittedly more fundamental questions so I get why you’d do it. But please, stop handing Facebook money and spend ten minutes with a Facebook calculator and your actual numbers. It is totally worth your time as you might be doing a bang up job marketing but people get to your site and don’t buy. You can put lipstick on a pig but you know how that goes…

Why Not Everything Has To Be Profitable

I did this exercise with a potential client and she was totally deflated. She had been holding these low cost events (not unlike our $25/person workshops at Anchorspace) and wanted to advertise them… but with the exercise understood taking out ads would cost her more money than she’d make.

Now I could tell she loved the events so I didn’t tell her to not do the events. And I didn’t tell her not to advertise. What I did tell her is if she was going to keep doing her events, she’d have to stop looking at them as a moneymaker and instead think of them as a loss leader (getting people into her business where they buy other things) or marketing tool (something to get her name out there, regardless of whether people came or not). In other words, not everything you advertise has to make you money directly. But if it’s not making you money, you should have some other reason to do it that makes sense. 

(If you like this, I’m doing a Facebook workshop on Friday. You should come, virtually or in real life.)

Facebook Ads can be a great tool but I see so much wasted effort. By knowing your numbers, using a Facebook calculator, and having your non-revenue generating activities have another clear purpose, you will be spending your money and time more purposefully and effectively going forward. 

I Left My Business for a Month and Nothing Bad Happened (Part 2)

We have a series of great ‘and nothing bad happened’ articles. Check out ‘I Bought Facebook Fans And Nothing Bad Happened‘ and ‘I Doubled Our Social Media Posts And Nothing Bad Happened

Last week, in “I Left My Business for A Month and Nothing Bad Happened Part 1” I talked about keeping the businesses running while I was physically in another place. This week, I’ll talk about the other side of the coin- getting involved in a new market. Ten years in the same location, especially in a small town, is almost the definition of “comfort zone.” Sure, we’ve grown and challenged ourselves so that our business isn’t frozen in time, but the time to innovate is always now, and travelling to upstate New York was part of that process.

While I was in a new location, I needed to set myself up to meet people. Something most people find surprising about me is that I’m an extroverted introvert, which means talking to people requires energy from me and I almost never want to do it. Once I AM doing it, I’m fine, but afterwards I definitely need to spend some time alone to regroup.
So what’s the best way to get into a new community, besides finding one that theoretically needs your products/services? Here are a few things I did in my new community of Potsdam, New York:

  • Met with Chamber of Commerce director to talk options about integrating into the community (Note when you meet someone who has NEVER heard of you, it’s best to be ready to give something value added for their time, whether you’re buying them breakfast or just going to send them some really great free resources about what you talked about.)
  • Meet with the local SBDC with your theoretical new additional location business plan and some questions ready to go.
  • Connect with any local business incubators and be in their space if at all possible. Set up a short meeting with people who work there to let them know what you’re doing and how you could help.
  • Connect with the local library and offer a workshop. We did a free workshop and gave a donation to the local SPCA, which meant that the library promoted it because the workshop was in their space, and the SPCA promoted it, too.
  • Check out local meetups and attend to meet new people. I attended a local artist group and we got to tour this cool museum and people shared their work.
  • Find a local business that will let you host an ‘open house’ of sorts and promote it to the local media via a press release, your new local contacts, and a Meetup announcement. (Aside: because I did this, I ended up on a panel of entrepreneurs for North Country Public Radio!)
  • Go to the local happy hour spot by yourself and sit near some nice people.
  • Join local Facebook groups. (My LOL moment was when I joined the ‘Potsdam Rocks’ Facebook group, thinking it was going to be about community development but then upon acceptance, found out it was about… painted rocks.) Ask local friends recommendations for good groups to join.
  • Ask every person you meet who else you should meet. Use Facebook or LinkedIn to find contact information and name drop your mutual connection, offer beer/coffee, or otherwise see if you can meet these people in real life.
  • Meet with local economic development directors or city planners and ask them questions about the community and how you can best provide business services.
  • Go to a local Rotary club meeting (and any other civic groups you can find).
  • Attended a meeting for volunteers at the local dog park (which my dog loved).
  • Visit the local food co-op and learn about getting involved with local food movement (Aside I found the best cheese scones I’ve ever had.)

(Wow, when I see it all listed out, and remembering I did normal work too, no wonder every time someone asks me about my ‘vacation’ I sigh.)



Within each of these community outreach moments, I tried to do the following:

  1. taking the opportunity each interaction to start other interactions. ‘Who should I talk to about that?’ or ‘Who else should I meet?’ are great questions, and
  2. trying to bring value to any interaction I had. I figured if I didn’t know someone and they were taking their time to help me, the least I could do was give them some free consulting and/or food.

Because I made the leap, I am now in talks for two good size proposals I would not be having the chance to do otherwise. I also had time/mental space to finish some big projects (like adding a learning management system to Anchorspace’s website and creating an online store of the cool designs we commissioned from graphic designer Jill Lee on Society 6.) I even brainstormed an idea for an e-course about running a business while depressed. I am not sure if I would have gotten some of this stuff done, or had some creative ideas, if I didn’t do a reset outside my workspace.

So the results of my experiment are seeing that not only could I run a multi-location company in the short term, but I could use the new location as an advantage not just for myself personally but for business as well. I’ve seen many of my successful business role models run businesses in multiple locations and I don’t see why I can’t be one of them in my next decade. I will also say as a total plug, upstate New York has some of the nicest most welcoming people I’ve ever met. I was surprised to make some real friends during my month long stay. And I hope as I broaden my scope, my two hometowns will support the work we are trying to do and grow.

And, if you’re new to the area (or ANY area, really), the steps I took in New York to start meeting new people and connecting with the community are worth trying for yourself. They’re great for making both business and social connections that will last for years (at least 10 🙂 ).



We Doubled The Amount Of Social Media Posts We Did And Nothing Bad Happened

You’ve probably heard about Facebook’s algorithm changes and other social networks similarly controlling what updates we see, from who, and when.

One of the overly simplified ways of dealing with the fact less people on social media are seeing your stuff is… just post more often. It makes sense this would increase the odds of people seeing things.

Based on what other marketers are saying about this, basically they all agree you should post a lot. These guys in a recent podcast recommended posting to social networks 30-40 times…. a DAY.

The other part of my brain doesn’t want to be a promotional jerk… so how do I consolidate these two parts of me: one part humble small town gal not wanting to annoy her friends and one part shark like business woman who wants to be wildly successful?

I doubled what we were posting to Facebook and Twitter. And I posted a TON on Pinterest (like 1000%+ more than usual).

Did I annoy the crap out of my friends?
Did I increase traffic to my website?
Was it all ‘worth it’?

Let’s find out!



Web Traffic Hasn’t Changed Much, If At All

So if we know I doubled how much I was sharing mid January, you can kind of see website views going up.

That said, I expanded the view back a few months and you see I was getting similar traffic (though maybe more sporadically?) back in November 2017.

If I compare traffic to the same period last year, I see social media referral traffic is up 50%… But if the overall traffic is the same, it’s impossible what would have happened if I *didn’t* do extra social media. I don’t feel comfortable saying this made a difference or it didn’t, we’d clearly need more data to say anything meaningful, but at least we know it is driving traffic to our website.

Followers Didn’t Massively Leave Our Channels

One way to tell if you are annoying people is they’ll stop following you. So I went and looked at our Twitter Followers and Facebook Likers to see if a mass exodus had happened with our double updates:

As you see, we lost four whole Twitter followers (on par for a typical month) and the people unliking on Facebook during the double down period seems to actually be less than the month leading up to it.

In other words, no mass exodus.



Our Views, Reach, And Engagement Were Up

The logical thing happened that we all expected, which is to say by posting more, more people did see our stuff.

Views up 22% on Facebook
Reach up 67% on Facebook
Impressions up 3.6% on Twitter
Profile visits up 28% on Twitter

It makes you wonder if tripling (or 1000% more posts) would have had more of an effect… but Pinterest might be able to help us there….

Pinterest, Where People Should Really Be Annoyed By Us, Was More Successful

Because I’ve been front loading our blog posts, etc. into Pinterest, I’ve been adding hundreds of pins over the last two weeks in particular (way more than I usually do). In other words, I would have expected a mass exodus here if anywhere. But as you see with the numbers above (by the way, four of those five boards are just our stuff), we got literally over 18,000 views on our posts. Holy crap.

So to gain 18,000 views, how many people did we have to lose?

So to have 151% more views and an increase of 52% more daily viewers, we lost 2% over the course of the month.

I mean losing 2% to gain 50%… that’s some math I can be ok with.

So to summarize the month of doubling our posts, I would say it was totally worth doing. We got more eyeballs on our stuff (and more traffic from social media to our website). And the quantitative data (followers change) and qualitative data (people telling us we were being annoying) shows that doing this extra marketing wasn’t nearly as annoying (or even noticeable) to our base as we thought it would be.

If you’ve been thinking of stepping up your social media game and posting more, I hope this post is encouraging to you. We’re going to keep running this experiment for another couple months but so far, so good…. and I don’t think we are the only ones who would see this kind of benefit.



Marketing Monday: Pregnant Chicken

There’s nothing quite as unifying as humor when it comes to shared experience. Last year, when I was pregnant and dutifully reading pretty much everything I could to prepare for the new baby (little did I know, all that reading doesn’t necessarily prepare you for reality, but at the time it made me feel like I was accomplishing something). Along the way, I found a LOT of blogs that were helpful, but probably the number one find in terms of both helpfulness and hilarity was Pregnant Chicken.

Pregnant Chicken has multiple contributing writers, but there’s definitely a uniform “style” of writing that’s equal parts funny and helpful. For instance, they have a collection of articles on “Scary Stuff” that you may encounter while pregnant or while your baby is still young. Being able to access a sense of humor while still being serious/acknowledging the scariness isn’t easy, but the writers of Pregnant Chicken are able to navigate this balance (and add a bit of levity to things that are typically tough to talk about).

Other articles you may encounter on their blog include “20 One Handed Snack Ideas” and, one of my favorites, “10 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman.” In other words, topics vary from real life tips to just for fun. Another classic is the “No Really, How Big is Your Baby?” Growth Chart, using such comparisons as “Regretful Smurf” and “Chicken Nugget.”

10 Things to Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

They also have different giveaways throughout the year, typically the entrance “fee” is your email address, and for “extra” entries, you have to do things like share the giveaway on Facebook, tagging three people on the giveaway on Instagram, and other things that grow either their followers or the followers of the giveaway affiliates.

What really got me hooked on Pregnant Chicken was their social media presence, namely Facebook and Instagram. In other words…it was the memes.

As I mentioned in a post this fall about the loneliness of life with a newborn baby, it feels nice to know that other people are going through/have gone through the same thing you’re going through (it’s also a bit of a sanity check). It was a bit of a relief to see memes that were so relatable, and funny/self-deprecating- it made me think, “Okay, maybe I’m not totally terrible at this after all.” Topics include all things parenting: sleep deprivation, tantrums, phoning in household chores, diaper blowouts-the less glamorous side of things (because we love our babies, but it’s okay to have a laugh or two at the expense of a child…or yourself).

Any business can benefit with the mindset of having a sense of humor and not being afraid to say what everyone is thinking…. then again, we may be a little biased about that.

How Short Videos Tell You More

Most people hesitate to do video because they are worried about having to create 1) long narratives with 2) high production value.

That said, we’ve noticed a cool phenomoenon: very short videos in places you aren’t expecting them.

I first noticed this while online shopping. When I look at clothing websites, a lot of them have short videos showing how the clothing drapes and moves, which is really helpful. It also helps higher quality items stand out in a sea of cheap clothing websites where people don’t feel the get what they are paying for. Here’s an example from Universal Standard:

Product Video Example From Online Store from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

I was telling a friend about this short video observation and she mentioned online dating websites adding short video formats as part of profiles and she was considering trying it. Of course, this made me think about this:

Really though, it’s daters answering questions, which can honestly give you a lot better idea of what they will be like in real life than tons of verbage in a profile can.

Vine (8 second videos) have gone away and with Instagram allowing 60 second (or less) videos, it might just be that the internet is a big experiment in the ideal length of short videos and what they can accomplish in that time. How short is too short? What kinds of information can be shown that would be difficult to show in another medium? I personally think we are just getting started.



Nonprofits can also benefit from using short videos. This example is from Friends of Acadia sharing the conditions of the trail at the Jesup Path. If you check out their video archive, you’ll find their weather related updates about trails and conditions are fairly short (less than a minute in length). Maine Coast Heritage Trust uses short videos in a similar way. (These videos all use raw footage- no editing, and no one having to worry about talking for the camera).

Wyman’s of Maine (the blueberry factory where Kassie worked in high school) shares a lot of short videos like these, sharing how to make smoothies and other treats using their products. Yes, there is a bit of production with this video, but you’ll notice there’s no one talking in front of a camera, and the editing can probably be done using a relatively inexpensive service.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC uses short video clips to offer glimpses of the space, discussions with authors, and closer looks at exhibits. Their video archives have a mix of short videos and longer form (up to 10 minutes).

If you have a cool product, a cool location, or a mission that supports cool activities, short videos are a marketing tool that you can definitely use. Short and sweet applies to online video, and your projects too.

Where else have you seen short form videos? Are you planning on using these in your marketing?



Be Kind Online: The New Year Edition

It’s a new year, and you may be making resolutions to improve your self/life in 2018. If you’re struggling with an idea, I can help you out- and the good news is, it’s actually really easy to do!

Here it is: Be a little nicer online.

It may sound totally simple, but hey, there’s always room for improvement. After all, we aren’t all at Thumper’s level of self-editing, myself included:

via GIPHY

The internet has become a pretty open arena for sharing experiences and opinions, especially social media. It’s also become fairly common for people to put each other down (okay, that’s probably a euphemism).

Without getting sucked into a conversation about online shaming (which these days is less of a blog post and more of a book), smaller scale shaming like a comment on a Facebook post can still be really hurtful. In honor of the new year, here are some ideas for being nice(r) online:

Before you comment, realize that you may not have all the context. When I was pregnant, I had someone comment on a photo of me on a hike that I was reckless/careless to do something like that by myself (paraphrasing). I instantly felt ashamed of something I’d formerly been proud of- I took the picture down and didn’t post any of my hikes for the rest of the summer (note: my response is on me, not the commenter). Here’s the thing: this person (and everyone else who saw the picture) didn’t have the full context- I was actually not alone on the hike. The person I was with is much more private and I was simply being respectful of his desire not to be on Facebook, so I just shared a picture of myself. Which brings me to the next point…

Be respectful of others “space.” Nicole talked about the questions she asks herself before posting something online in a blog post “Manners on the Move.” One of her “rules” is not tagging photos or checking in somewhere without a person’s consent. Everyone has their own gut checks for social media, which is fine, just remember to be respectful of how others choose to be present online. It’s easy to ask for permission if you’re going to write about someone on a Facebook post, even if they don’t have Facebook. Recently someone wrote a post about my 80 year old grandmother on Facebook, and she found out through one of us grandkids. It wasn’t negative, but she wasn’t really thrilled about being written about by a close friend of hers without knowing about it.



In the below Instagram post, Whole-30 founder Melissa Hartwig explains her personal metrics for sharing on her personal social media accounts: “Does it feel gross?” We all have our own views on what feels “gross” to post, so it’s a fairly universal metric.

A post shared by Melissa Hartwig (@melissa_hartwig) on



Think of ways to be helpful instead. One example I can think of is mom’s shaming other moms on baby/kid pictures. Unless someone is clearly putting their child in danger, it’s probably more helpful to keep opinions to yourself. If you want to be helpful to say, a mom who is maybe a little off in how she straps her kid in a car seat, consider sending a private message that offers actual helpful tips for correct practices. Commenting with a threat to call DHHS and have the child taken away, for example, is pretty unhelpful (and yes, this is an example I have actually seen).

Quietly remove yourself from negativity. Let’s face it, we all have a friend or two on Facebook that is a total negative Nancy. You are only ever in control of your own actions and responses, so if there’s a person or group online that rubs you the wrong way, you can always remove their stories from your newsfeed. It’s basically just passive resistance- instead of getting involved in a back and forth on social media, it’s like just quietly receding into the background.

via GIPHY

Overall, I think the world, online and off, could benefit from trying to understand each other before jumping to judgments. While Facebook and other social networks allow us to connect in a more widespread way, sometimes we lose sight of what it means to connect in a meaningful, kind way.



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