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Web Marketing Case Study: Using Facebook

Geoff Tucker, DVM and president of The Equine Practice, Inc., first started his website in 2007 as the hub for four other sites. Every site shares the overall goal of educating horse owners about veterinary care and horse husbandry.

About two years ago, Tucker added Twitter and Facebook to his online corral. “I don’t have a target market in the sense of demographics,” says Tucker. “I just put out my message for those who are ready to listen.” It turns out that mostly older women are listening because they just happen to own the most horses these days.

Tucker primarily uses Facebook to drive people to his site by posting content. But he sees each of these social media services as a way of reaching different people. For Tucker, the more channels of communication he has, the better his chance of reaching his audience.

Tucker acknowledges several challenges with Facebook. “The biggest,” he says “is just starting,” especially with the confusing directions and frequent changes in user interface. He began before the days of business pages, when he had to create two profiles — one for personal use and one for business.

He had to overcome the loss of thousands of Facebook friends when Facebook converted friends to fans. The time commitment is another challenge. Tucker spends about an hour a day responding to comments and posting pictures from the farms he visits; his wife spends time monitoring topical issues that need a comment, and his assistant spends another 20 minutes a day posting content from her archives.

Tucker joined a few groups but finds them too time-consuming. “Don’t let [Facebook] consume you,” he warns.

Although Tucker watches for a constant growth in the number of fans, he finds that the number of monthly active users is more valuable as an accurate reflection of engagement. Tucker promotes his Facebook page with chicklets and a Like me button on the top of every web page and in his weekly e-newsletter.

He supplements his online marketing with word-of-mouth, signage, business cards, brochures, phone decals, and talks to small groups. He doesn’t have much use for display ads or PPC, but SEO “is big” in his world.

Tucker advises starting with a Facebook fan page, not a profile page, for business use. Viewing Facebook as simply another communication tool offers some perspective. “In all my years working with horses, I have never, ever, not once, had a horse write me a check. Everything is a people business. Use Facebook as a way to meet new people, and your business will grow. “

See these URLs for The Equine Practice:

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