4 Tips to Evangelize Your Brand on Facebook

social media case studiesAre you looking to stand out on Facebook?

Christiane Erwin, owner of Crestview Doors of Austin, TX, logged onto Facebook early one morning and was surprised.

She saw one of her company’s door designs in a photo post from home superstore Lowe’s.

Unfortunately it was as the winner of the Lowe’s Ugly Door Sweepstakes.

lowes ugly door sweepstakes

The winner of the Lowe's Ugly Door Sweepstakes.

“They call that ugly?” she thought. “That’s odd, because it’s one of our best sellers.”

Crestview is a small door manufacturer specializing in mid-century modern architecture. Erwin knows that it’s not everyone’s favorite style, but she also knows that mid-mod fans are a devoted and stalwart bunch that had just been insulted on a question of taste.

Due to a savvy Facebook strategy that plays to its strengths, Crestview was perfectly poised to take advantage of the opportunity to play David to Lowe’s Goliath, and increased its reach more than four-fold over the course of the week in the process.

Organization: Crestview Doors

Social Media Handles & Stats:

Highlights:

  • 7.1% of total sales driven by Facebook
  • Facebook fans increased from fewer than 1,000 in 2010 to 4,795 in 2012
  • Facebook Ads budget dropped from $7,200 in 2010 to $0 in 2012
  • Increase in reach in one week from Ugly Door Sweepstakes post: from 3,500 to 16,000

Evans responded with a succinct post in reply:

“Dear Lowe’s Ugly Door Sweepstakes. You call it ugly, we call it the ‘Pasadena.’”

crestview doors response

Crestview's succinct response to the Lowe's Ugly Door Sweepstakes announcement.

“It was a gut reaction,” Erwin said. “Not only was it a door in our product line, but it’s in the top three that we sell. And I knew it was a color that our fans would love.”

The response garnered 181 likes, 18 shares—including one from the influential mid-mod site Retro Renovation—and 120 comments. It also brought them 40 new fans, up from a daily average of 5.

Crestview was able to capitalize on the opportunity because of the thought they had put into recognizing their true mission and how their Facebook fans fit into that mission.

Crestview realized that their mission as a business is not selling doors, but bringing back mid-century design to the home décor market. They also recognized that their fans’ value lies less in becoming repeat customers than in evangelizing their brand and mission.

To cultivate brand evangelists on Facebook, Crestview has four techniques: get personal, get visual, value your fans’ contributions and measure your results. Here’s how they do it.

#1: Get Personal

When the company started using Facebook in 2009, “We did what a lot of small businesses were doing. We posted about sales, or new products, or ‘Have you seen this?’ articles about something that wasn’t getting much traffic on the site,” said Erwin.

Results, however, were lackluster. Building a fan base was slow, and after over two years of effort, they were still hovering near 1,000 fans.

They experimented with Facebook Ads (spending approximately $600 per month), and later with paid posts, but were disappointed with the return on investment. “The relevancy of the ads was always very short, and it wasn’t really driving sales,” Erwin said.

Then, quite by accident, Erwin’s husband, co-owner of the company, posted an old family photo to the Crestview page that was meant for his personal account.

accidental post

The "accidental" post that triggered Crestview's new Facebook strategy.

By the time they realized the mistake, they figured they would just leave it up. It was from the ’50s after all, and Facebook posts have a short shelf life anyway. Soon the photo had gotten 7 likes, “which at the time was a good number for us,” said Erwin.

“To see that many likes on a post just shifted, in that moment, our paradigm.”

The company started experimenting with a more informal posting style, and noticed that the more personal their posts were, the more comments they got.

“We keep it lighthearted and lively, and we get more responses. Facebook is not just about selling,” said Erwin. “People go to Facebook to get personal.”

family halloween portrait

Crestview Doors' family Halloween portrait posted to their Facebook page.

#2: Get Visual

By studying their analytics, Erwin and her husband discovered that their most important metrics are shares and reach. And what drives shares? Visuals.

“We figured out that posting a photo with every status update is very important. People won’t share words, but they will share pictures,” said Erwin.

Including a photo in each post, no matter how irrelevant it may seem, is now a “no-brainer,” she said.

eleanor roosevelt

Distinctive photos are a key element of Crestview's Facebook strategy.

#3: Value Your Fans’ Contributions

Door-O-Vision, a feature on the company’s website, lets customers virtually model four different door designs on their home. The terms of service allow Crestview to share the results on their Facebook page, so Erwin will often post the four-up photos and ask fans which one they think is best.

The result is always an outpouring of comments and shares.

“Those get shared. I’m always surprised how much,” she said. “Our fans like being asked their opinion and it’s a bit like a community service we’re offering [to customers].”

choose which door

A four-up Door-O-Vision photo gets shared on Facebook.

To encourage their brand evangelists, Crestview also celebrates fans’ successes, whether or not they are customers.

“We’ll get people who salvaged a door off the street and refurbished it and they’ll post on the site. We love that.”

jerry zavada

Crestview loves to celebrate fans' fabulous find.

#4: Measure Your Results

Any marketing effort’s effectiveness can only be determined by tracking results. Since Crestview was keeping track of their Facebook stats, they could see right away the bump in response from the accidental post by Erwin’s husband.

They could also see an increase in new fans per week starting in mid-2011 when they began posting more informal messages. Despite a decline in the rate of new fans once Facebook switched to Timeline, the company has nearly quintupled its Facebook fans in the past year.

But fans alone won’t contribute to the bottom line. Google Analytics data tells Crestview that Facebook currently drives 7.1% of online sales, with no monetary outlay.

Custom millwork sales, which account for 50% of the company’s revenue and often come through other channels, are more difficult to track, but Erwin is confident that their Facebook presence plays a part.

ugly door reach

Crestview experienced a significant bump in reach from the Ugly Door Sweepstakes response.

“You may not be able to measure how many buyers are coming directly from [Facebook], but so many people use it as a reference,” she said. “Having a presence out there, it rounds out your brand. It gives people a forum to know you, and it says you’re not afraid to be held accountable.”

The Bottom Line

After Erwin tagged the Ugly Door Sweepstakes in her response, over 300 people commented in the Lowe’s post that they liked the original door, calling it “cute,” “cool” and “retro.”

Said Erwin,

“It just goes to show that fans of small businesses are excited to share their opinions—because they are more likely to be heard! And boy, are we listening.”

What do you think? Has your business experimented with more personal or informal posts on Facebook? What has your result been? Post your comments and questions in the box below.

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About the Author, Louise Julig

Louise is Social Media Examiner’s case study writer. A freelance writer and former engineer, she has a passion for telling compelling true stories. Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseJulig. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Hi Louise! I Awesome stuff! I am very happy to note that we are already doing most of the things you mentioned here and I am very thankful to SME for that. 

    Rock on SME!

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  • http://siddarthrajsekar.com/ Siddharth Rajsekar

    Great stuff Louis. In fact ever since Facebook have moved pages to the timeline view, the importance of VISUAL has played a huge part. 

    We recently did some FB visual promotions for an upcoming personal development event in Dubai, posting quotes of the speaker and a good call to action at the bottom saying “Share If You Care”.. and were blown away by the results when one of our quotes got shared over 6000+ times. So I totally resonate with that you’re saying here.

    Thanks a ton for the awesome value you’re providing to the social media communities across the world!

  • Mark E Dickerson

    Turning lemons into lemonade.  Love it.  Going to start adding a picture to every post as well.  I work for an IT company, and we have had a tough time getting any traction with our Facebook page.  How can I let people know what we do, without sounding like a pushy sales rep?

  • Scott Linklater

    Great article, awesome story, loved it! Good work! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/cmbattisti Cindy Battisti

    HA! My product was on NPRs Holiday gifts NOT to buy list last year- HUGE BUMP in sales from that- no such thing as bad publicity. I didn’t even have to do anything, the visits to the website and resulting sales just poured in. I sent two gushing thank you emails to the author… But no reply- guess she wasn’t amused ;-)  

  • Emaggs

    Go ahead and be a bit pushy – that’s expected. But honestly, be nice to others in the trade. Mention them, they mention you, and then you can get some pull on that. I work in a membership based org., and I have the same problem, until I noticed that. It sounds counterproductive, but really, if the product is similar, it stands to reason that people would shop around, or need accessories, and so on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elaine.b.howes Elaine Beal Howes

    Thanks so much for this great post. It has given me some great ideas for my Facebook page. Congrats to Crestview Doors!

  • Christiane Erwin

    Hi, Mark!  Many people might not want to hear about IT stuff when relaxing on Facebook, but they might want to hear about *you.*  Keep it friendly, tell them how your day is going, what kind of music you like to listen to when you work, etc.  Ask a question: “I love it when co-workers bring in donuts.  What flavor would you want me to bring if I came out to fix your computer?”  That kind of thing.  People love to share their opinions.  Don’t be afraid to get personal.  Not everyone will like you, but those that do will remember you and want to work with you.  Cheers!  Christiane

  • Kelly DeCourcey

    some interesting things to learn from today’s post!

  • Laurel Anderson

    This has a lot of great information, I really appreciate reading these blogs, thank you very much.

  • Jpetek

    Great article!!! Confrms what i have heard. I will try it.

    Jan

  • Louise Julig

    Thanks so much, Siddharth! I’m glad the article resonated with you. The switch to Timeline has really magnified the importance of visual sharing, and more and more brands are responding to that.

  • Louise Julig

    Christinane and Emaggs both have great advice – just be genuine and think about the kinds of things you respond to yourself when you’re on facebook. 

  • Louise Julig

    Thanks for the feedback, Scott — glad you liked the story!

  • http://www.vandmasini.ro/anvelope-iarna.html Aurora

    I don’t know what to say…..i think it is just like in the real life: one good idea can bring you the big success.
    If the idea is missing than you can try to do all kind of stuff.
    it only my opinion

  • Rachel

    This is a great article, it’s also lovely to see a smaller business being profiled, it really helps it feel more approachable when you’re just a team of one!

  • ashevillevas

    I greatly enjoyed this post! Setting yourself apart seems to be the message I’ve been hearing across the channels. For me, the difficulty lies in figuring out what my uniquity is. 

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Belize-Social-Media-Consulting/218569214865476 Andrea

    I really enjoyed reading this post. You have such a great way of telling a story. I will be sharing this post on my Facebook page to help small businesses here in Belize get some of these really cool ideas. Thanks!

  • Patrick McCabe

    I agree that this is a very interesting and valuable post to anyone wanting to learn what the internet can do for you business wise and how simple it is to achieve results.
    Patrick

  • http://www.engage-2012.com/ Peter Kelly

    This is a great post, Louise. Thanks for sharing it with us. There are really some great ideas for Facebook Pages. I can’t wait to try them on my own. And by the way, congratulations to Sweepstakes doors – that was a pure social win! 

  • http://www.make-money-at-your-home.com/ Dv

    Very interesting. Great material.

  • http://www.mybiztoolkit.co.uk/ Ann Mullings

    I find that the less you try to sell, the more attention you’ll get on social media. The problem is that most people knows this but it’s easier said than done. There is an art associated with posting effective info on Facebook that comes with confidence, creativity and risk taking. Some good points can be picked up on this article.

  • http://www.milkbarcommunicatie.nl/ Maarten Bresser

    Great story! Recognizing what kind of social network Facebook is and using it to communicate instead of outright sell. Way to go.

  • Dave Vanz

    Before reading on and realizing it was an ugly door contest, my first reaction was, “I think the door is cool looking!”  I love the simple stories of brands focusing on their communities.

  • Louise Julig

    Ann, you have hit it on the head. It is more of an art than people realize, which is why so many brands start a page and then it goes nowhere. I loved how Crestview deliberately kept with what was working after they had their accidental discovery. 

  • Louise Julig

    Thanks for the kind words, Peter. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and got some good ideas from it. 

  • Louise Julig

    Thanks so much, Andrea! That’s why I love writing case studies – so I can tell a story while informing people at the same time :-)

  • Louise Julig

    It is true that finding a niche will really help you distinguish yourself in the marketplace, but it’s not always easy to see what that is. Sometimes investing in a business coach or even just a trusted friend who knows you well can help you see yourself in a new light to figure that out. Good luck!

  • Christiane Erwin

    Keep trying and you will likely stumble onto it by accident like we did ;-D

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  • sbrand1

    Louise, how were they able to determine sales conversions?

  • Umer Hafeez

    Friend, can I have the link of the page your are talking about? About the event in Dubai..

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  • http://enjoyingthefreelife.tumblr.com Adeline Yuboco

    Thanks for sharing all these tips, Louise! I’m very much a beginner when it comes to using Facebook to promote my blog. I’ll start trying out what you suggested here.

  • Jayasri

    4 Tips was overwhelming.It will be useful for many  tycoon.
    Thanks for giving such a valuable information  to the social media.
    Please give some suggestion to students how to use facebook
    in a useful way. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/brianna.dale1 Brianna Dale

    Great post! Thanks for sharing. I agree- photos capture readers!

  • Louise Julig

    About 50% of their sales are through their website, and I believe they used Google Analytics to determine where the traffic came from. The other 50% of their sales is what they call custom millwork, which comes mostly through phone or email contact so they don’t have data on where those customers came from. Hope that helps.

  • http://www.leadsandappointments.com/ Anika Davis

    Hello Louise. You must put a littler tweak in your Facebook’s business page. It doesn’t necessarily need to be so business. Put some human touch. Tell stories as much as you can – that you’re audience can relate on. Social media is a whole tricky thing. Made your own unique tricks and be surprised by the results. Thanks for the guides. 
    Always:)

  • http://twitter.com/ApolloIrungbam Apollo

    This is what i called a good case study. 

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  • http://twitter.com/albertmora Albert Mora

    Hi Louis,

    Good tips, I would also add give your fans something special

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  • DANA MATHEWS

    I was posting specials, events, and promotions with little “likes” and comment. Pictures were posted of the food we serve at the restaurant I work at and they are a big hit. Visual learners I guess:) 

  • Bart Kalisvaart

    Very nice article, but one question; If Crestview has such a savvy Facebook strategy, why are there no Social Media links on their website? Isn’t cross pollination the way to go in order to get more traffic on both your website and your SM profiles?

  • Louise Julig

    Good point, @twitter-22378411:disqus – that would be a good addition to their site.

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