Social Media Training
In the spring of 2018, I attended a social media marketing workshop sponsored by Facebook at Ann Arbor SPARK. The course, which covered Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram promotions was underwritten by Facebook. The course covered the material and work necessary to receive a social media micro-credential. In Michigan, sessions have been held in the greater Detroit/Ann Arbor area as well as in Grand Rapids. Each student needed to represent a local organization or business and we had quite a variety represented in our group, mostly non-profits, but also a few small businesses and a marketing consultant. I represented The Bull Terrier Club of Metro Detroit, an AKC breed club that operates primarily in southeastern Michigan. We also collaborate with the Midwest Miniature Bull Terrier Fanciers and the Miniature Bull Terrier Club of America during our fall specialty weekend.
Setting Up Facebook Pages and Instagram Accounts
The class was open to all, whether their organization had a Facebook or Instagram account or not. Everyone in my class already had a Facebook page, but a number of us did not have an Instagram account. Our instructor, Lindsay Thomas walked everyone through setting up Facebook pages and organization Instagram accounts. She explained the difference between Facebook Pages and Groups and why Pages are better for promoting organizations.
Basics of Social Media Marketing
We learned how to create different types of posts and got tips for making them engaging. Lindsay emphasized the importance of content that asks visitors to DO something, such as sharing pictures or commenting on a topic. Photos, videos, and links to your website are valuable to show people what your group does and can serve as an invitation to page fans to engage with your site.
Creating Facebook Ads
Every organization in the class received a Facebook advertising credit to help them get started. We learned you can promote an existing post or event without creating anything new, or you can create an ad using Facebook ad center tools. Once we decided which post we were going to boost, we had to select a target audience. For my promotions which were for a local Bull Terrier specialty club, I decided to target men and women over 18 years of age, who were located in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, or Southwest Ontario (defined around cities in that region.) I was able to browse to see what interests Facebook had identified that might be relevant. I found I could target people interested in Bull Terriers, Bull Terrier rescue, and Miniature Bull Terriers, which was absolutely perfect for my club. Then you set duration and a budget (which you can pay through PayPal) and you are ready to go.
We covered using Instagram advertising in the class, but to be honest I have not dedicated too much time to use it for our club. The greatest hurdle to my adoption of Instagram for the Bull Terrier Club of Metro Detroit is that as an active exhibitor and club secretary, it’s difficult for me to both take a stream of photos documenting an event as well as participate in the event. I can usually take some photos during setup and maybe awards, but the rest of the day I’m too busy to keep it up.
Does Facebook Marketing Work?
I do feel that Facebook marketing worked for our club. I boosted our first post on May 2, 2018. At that time we had 511 likes, up 110 from 401 likes the previous May. As I am writing this in late February 2019, we have 653 likes, up 142 in just 10 months. People who Like your Facebook page will be notified anytime you post an activity or create an event on your page, keeping your club top of mind. Boosting or advertising our page and events expanded our reach from the few hundreds that like our page to thousands of local people with an interest in Bull Terriers. Facebook has an Insights section where you can view statistics about your page. I can clearly see increases in both organic and paid traffic to our Facebook page around the time of each of our promoted events, our summer Bullyolympics, fall Specialty, and Winter Bull Terrier Fest. I made a point of asking new people at our fun events how they had heard about the event, and each time I had at least one couple that said they or a friend had seen it promoted on Facebook. We have had at least two couples join the club who found out about an event on Facebook, and overall our membership is up by 6 households (20%) compared to last year.
Is Facebook Advertising Cost Effective?
For our club, I think Facebook advertising is well worth the cost. We are spending on average $25-$30 to promote each event for the month leading up to it, in a 4-state geographic area to people with a defined interest in breeds that rank 60th and 115th in popularity. Other clubs with larger targets may spend more, but you also have a larger potential for return on your investment.
My Advice to Dog Clubs – Go For It!
I would highly encourage dog clubs to follow our example and try Facebook marketing. Just starting with a page where you can show photos of your activities, answer questions, and promote your events will expand your reach to the dog-curious public. Boosting posts is very easy, creating ads is not much harder. For less than you’d spend on one dog show entry, you can reach a lot of people who may not even know there is such a thing as a dog club. You can introduce the joy of doing things with your dogs to a lot of new people, gain members, and sow the seeds that will lead to more dog show engagement in the future. Facebook-funded workshops are being held in many locations, search for the term “Facebook Microcredentials” with your location to see when there will be one near you. Facebook also offers free online marketing courses. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like help getting started. If your club has a Facebook or Instagram presence, I’d love to see it, please share a link in the comments section.
Cleo has been showing Bull Terriers in AKC events and working with dogs and dog clubs since she was a teenager. Her professional career has been spent working in marketing insights and analytics in a variety of industries, including automotive, advertising, and pet specialty retail.