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Is Facebook Dead for Pet Businesses? The Data Says No

The future of Facebook’s business use is nebulous, indeed.

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FACEBOOK IS CREATING a lot of waves. Amid its data collection scandals and Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement earlier this year that the company is de-emphasizing branded content and everything else, it’s easy to wonder: Should my pet business bother using Facebook anymore?

This question was recently posed, ironically, in a Facebook pet-business group I belong to. Plenty of pet pros chimed in, some saying they’d scaled back their Facebook activities and others saying the platform is still their top social performer.

Being a data geek myself, the team and I were already watching the numbers to see whether Zuckerberg’s January announcement would spur higher prices for Facebook advertising. (As of this writing, average Facebook ad rates for pet businesses have actually been lower or the same as those we saw this time in 2017, depending on the ad objective.)

But the group’s question made me want to look deeper. What we found was that Facebook continues to be either the top or second-largest social media platform, according to Pew Research Center. That said, growth has slowed since April 2016.

But this doesn’t answer how the platform is performing for pet businesses, an area where data is too often scarce or non-existent. So we randomly sampled the Google Analytics data for 12 healthy pet businesses and looked at the data for the beginning of the year. 

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  • Of the 12 businesses, Facebook is still the number one social media driver to their website for 8 of them. (The other four business’s top referrers ranged depending on type and location of business.)
  • Five of the eight saw significant increases in visitors going from Facebook to their website in 2018, versus the same three-month period in 2017.
  • Only two of the 12 saw declines in traffic from Facebook, and the declines were not as large as the gains seen by the five.
    So is Facebook dead for pet businesses? The data says: no, not yet.
  • The future of Facebook’s business use is nebulous, indeed. The stuff you actually see brands doing on their pages (organic page optimization and growth) has inarguably stalled for many in the last two years as Facebook has continued to reduce organic reach and increase the need for paid placements. Even so, Facebook remains the strongest channel for many. The key is shifting how Facebook is used and prioritized to make sure your pet brand’s business and customer needs are being met.

    No matter how you look at it, clearly Facebook is an increasingly controversial platform to spend time on as a business. Nevertheless, the data shows there is still opportunity to reach consumers.

    So, when thinking about where your brand and business needs to invest time, let’s ask a different question. What is this channel doing for your consumer?

    Think about who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to do before deciding whether Facebook or another platform is the best one to throw your time and money into. The answer just may surprise you.

Jane Harrell is President of 'cause Digital Marketing, a boutique marketing firm focusing on delivering real ROI for pet businesses of all breeds and pedigrees. Jane is also co-owner of WorkingWithDog.com, the marketing club for petpreneurs and small pet businesses. In 2013, Jane won the Rising Star Award from Women in the Pet Industry for her work with Petfinder.com. She’s a regular contributor to many pet-industry publications, focusing on topics that bring tangible results with less work. Jane's enjoying a busy COVID-19 quarantine living with her partner, their six animals and their foster son in Maine.

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