Just because you don’t have the marketing budget of a “big” store, doesn’t mean you can’t be successful and compete against e-commerce giants and big-box retailers for market share. In fact, niche and specialty stores have competitive advantages such as flexibility, faster execution and unique products and services.

When you hear digital marketing as a business owner, it can sometimes be overwhelming as it is often assumed you need to invest in everything in the digital mix to acquire new customers. The great news is that you can engage with almost the entire running community in only one social platform — Facebook.

There are numerous articles available on how to use Facebook and maximize its tools, from targeting the right audience to the importance of using videos, being bold but authentic and even on how much you should spend on advertising. These are all important points; however, you won’t find much information about the platform and its algorithm, so here’s what you need to know about Facebook and how to make it work for your business.

Why Facebook? Easy! It’s the world’s most popular and established social media platform with more than 2.2 billion active users and it’s the primary source of running information among all social media platforms.


A Facebook Page Is Not Enough

While having a Facebook page and developing a follower base is important, the harsh reality is, that for any post you publish, as few as two percent of your followers will see it, that means that if you have 100 followers and you publish one post a day, only five people potentially will see that post.

Ultimately Facebook is a business, so if you want to reach your followers as well as new and potential customers, you’ll have to pull out your wallet to make sure your communication gets through.

Facebook advertising bridges the gap between the online and offline worlds, helping businesses achieve their end objective of driving customers into their store. Once you understand the Facebook algorithm, you’ll see how powerful the platform can be in helping you grow your business.


Understanding the Algorithm

Facebook knows more about you (and your customers) than you know about yourself. It’s a better predictor of your habits and behaviors than you. Scary, but true!

Most people who run Facebook ads think they control who can see their ads by selecting a “desire target audience,” but this cannot be further from the truth. The algorithm only takes about 10 percent of what you tell it to do and decides the rest on its own.

Facebook has the steering wheel, not you. It has real-time access to everybody in the platform and it knows all of their data, including their entire user history, so the algorithm wants to make sure it matches the right message to the right person at the right time.

The Facebook algorithm has the network, the knowledge of everyone on it and the natural selection engine capable of iterating more variable combinations in seconds than a thousand scientists could in five years.

What it doesn’t have are the “initial conditions” needed for a successful campaign. Initial conditions are the “Audience–Message–Creative” combination that together are key to appealing to the correct user and getting them to engage.

In a constantly changing environment such as Facebook, variation is the key to success and survival in the platform. Without variation the algorithm will jam and your ads will stop getting traffic and fail faster than you can imagine. This is why many people struggle with Facebook ads.


Preparation Is Everything

A runner’s success in competitions depends on how well they’ve prepared so on race day they can focus on execution! This is the same for using Facebook ads — to run a successful ad campaign, preparation outside the platform is 95 percent of the battle and only five percent execution.

New runners are always seeking advice from experienced runners; in fact, professional runners are likely to have a coach too. The same is true with business owners when trying to get into digital marketing no matter how long you’ve been in business. If you already have a digital marketer within your team, you’re likely dominating your market. If you don’t its best to request help when it comes to nurturing your business’ biggest asset, your customers.


Gerardo “Gerry” Perez, founder of RUNGP – www.rungp.net – is an entrepreneur and running aficionado passionate for everything related to the sport of running. He is a digital marketing consultant connecting run specialty stores, race directors and running coaches within the running community to help grow their businesses through proven client acquisition strategies.