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As more businesses start to embrace the cost-effective method of social media promotions that Facebook Sponsored Stories offers, I’m seeing some mistakes pop up. As Louie Baur posted last week, you have to be careful what you advertise, as pushing the wrong content can do more harm than good.

I want to take that concept a step deeper using this analogy. It can be confusing to some who wonder why so much money is paid to sponsor racing teams. After all, their logo is placed on something that is attempting to travel so fast that the logos themselves cannot be read properly. What’s the benefit?

The reality is that everyone wants to be associated with a winner. They want to be associated with the sport itself and their hope is that their logo will appear on a winning vehicle and/or piece of racing apparel.

The same holds true with Facebook Sponsored Stories. You can throw money at anything and get it more views than it otherwise would have gotten, but I see too often that businesses are advertising the content that they think needs more help. The spammier it is, the more likely they are to sponsor it. This is the exact opposite of what businesses should be doing with Facebook advertising. If something is a winner – that’s the story you want to be pushing. You want to pick out content that would probably get likes, shares, and comments even if you didn’t sponsor it in the first place.

This has an affect on the rest of the “spammy” content that you might be posting more than if you sponsored the spammy content itself.

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Racefotos2008 /

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A couple of weeks ago, Facebook started cracking downon fake accounts and false likes. The network is finally at the point to where they believe quality is more important than quantity for their advertising model to work and they're right. Dealers should do the exact same thing, maximize quality of the people liking their page, if they want to delve into the high-potential world of Facebook sponsored posts.

The last statement needs some qualification. If, like many, you do not see the value of Facebook sponsored posts, we'll start there. If you have seen the value and you're already playing with it, skip ahead and let's learn about pruning.

If You Do This, Facebook Sponsored Posts WILL Work

There has been an open debate for a couple of years now about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising in the automotive industry. The reality of it is that it will notwork for most dealers. If your Facebook page is weak, if your fans are not localized, or if your goals are not geared around branding and exposure, then Facebook ads won't work for you.

If, on the other hand, you:

  • ... have a strong Facebook presence with multiple daily updates, an active community who like, comment, and share your content, and a strategy that is geared towards ramping up your EdgeRank before blasting out your "money shots", AND...

  • ... your fans are mostly localized, AND...
  • ... you view social media as more akin to television advertising where you're getting your brand and message out to people when they're not necessarily looking for a car but when they are psychologically in a place of enjoyment and relaxation...

... then Facebook advertising can be of great benefit to you. The primary reason for this is the cost. It's cheap! You can blast out a sponsored story to be viewed by thousands of people for tens of dollars. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, a strong Facebook page can outperform television for branding and exposure as long as you understand that the goals are the same.

If your goal is to generate direct leads from Facebook, there are definitely strategies that can work for you but that's extremely specialized. It can be done, but it's not easy. It requires some commitments at the dealership that most are not willing to do and I could argue that the same amount of effort put into search marketing has a higher yield. That's a different blog post altogether, but if you're Facebook page is a strong branding and exposure tool, then you should...


Size isn't everything. It's important, probably more important than most would give it in today's cynical-towards-fake-Facebook-likes world, but it's not nearly as important as focus on the local market.

Facebook offers localized advertising options to allow you to grow your local market. That's what you use to get fans. Keeping them and actually appearing in their news feed is a function of quality and engagement, but getting them is done through marketing, Facebook ads, and in-store promotions.

Facebook sponsored posts do not target a geographical location. They work on your fans and friends of your fans. It's for this reason that you create your own targeting by limiting your fans to the local area.

You do this by pruning.

If you do not run sponsored posts and have no intention of doing so, there's no real need to prune. The distant likes aren't necessarily hurting you that much. Sure, it's a perception concern (another blog post altogether) but the real damage comes from affecting your sponsored posts budget.

If you go through and remove the fans that are not in the local area, you will be able to maximize the relevant exposure of your sponsored posts. Does that mean that all of your fans should be in our direct market area? No. Having someone in San Diego like your Los Angeles Honda dealer Facebook page is fine. What you don't want is that person in Dallas liking your page and taking up budget with her Dallas-based friends.

Even worse is the person in Indonesia who likes your page. Foreign likes, particularly those in east Asia, have friends who are much more likely that domestic fans to like your post. While this might seem like a good thing for artificially inflating your numbers, it's not. It's better to have one local like your post than to have 10 irrelevant likes. Yes, the exposure would go up with the irrelevant likes, but it would not be exposed to anyone you actually want to see your posts.

If you have enough fans, you can prune down to 1000+ local people. This is a great starting point and Facebook sponsored posts sent to those people would give you incredible exposure for very little money. It's true bang for the buck.

If you do not have enough fans, keeping domestic likes is fine but still get rid of the foreign likes. Build your page up with as many localized fans of possible until you're to the point that you can start hyper-targeting the locals only.

When you get to that point, the $10 here, $20 there that you spend on sponsored posts will get you as much (possibly more) quality branding and exposure than thousands of dollars worth of television advertising.

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