I caught up today with Tavy Ronen, co-owner of The Yarn Co., a yarn shop in Manhattan, to discuss how her small business markets its products around the world using Facebook. The Yarn Co. has six employees, including Ronen and her brother, the other co-owner. Ronen was on a panel at the Facebook Fit conference for small businesses Tuesday at Skylight Clarkson Square in New York. I asked Ronen how she chooses which countries to market to using the social network, why she doesn’t like to schedule posts ahead of time, how lookalike audiences has helped The Yarn Co. boost its number of Facebook fans in only three weeks, and more.
AF: How do you decide which countries to target when you use Facebook advertising, as well in terms of your overall marketing strategy?
Ronen: The truth is that we didn’t decide. The truth is that I think the markets decided for us. So we sort of had an idea that instead of trying to compete in the neighborhood, we would instead try to compete in the international arena. So we advertised in as many different countries that we could write ad languages for. We kind of said, “Let’s see who’s interested.” It was fascinating because we could have never predicted. The countries that we thought would be most excited weren’t necessarily for one reason or another. Later on, we figured out that some of it might have to do with customs and duties. Some countries we never would have guessed. We have a huge following in Argentina. We started with the obvious choices. We started with major cities. We found that some cities that we wouldn’t have thought of really were huge for us.
AF: Which countries or cities have not been successful in terms of Facebook advertising?
AF: Why do you think that is?
Ronen: I’m not sure because we tried very hard to create ads that we thought would appeal to the Japanese aesthetic, so things that were more similar to the type of Japanese fashion. Maybe it’s competition. Maybe they’re saturated. I really don’t know. It’s been a learning process. Mexico is huge. So is Brazil, and one of the Scandinavian countries, but I don’t remember which.
AF: Was there one post that had the most reach, or whatever your business goal was — that was the most successful for you?
Ronen: We had a pair of crocheted boots that were extremely colorful. It wasn’t even ours. It was a photo that we found. We credited the designer. It just went viral. We wouldn’t have been able to predict that.
AF: How many people work on The Yarn Co.’s social media?
Ronen: My brother and I.
Ronen: Yes, it is a visual feel, because we are about artisanship and artists and color — different yarns and fabrics. Everything there (on the Facebook page) is visual.
AF: Do you schedule your Facebook posts?
Ronen: We post three to five times per day directly to Facebook. We don’t like to use the scheduler.
Ronen: We think Facebook is like a crowd. We kind of watch all day long, and there are ebbs and flows. We see if we are getting interaction or if we’re not, and we’re kind of responding. So, when interaction dies down for something, that’s when we’ll post something different.
AF: Can you give any examples of Facebook posts that haven’t done so well and lessons learned?
Ronen: Yes, anything where the visual wasn’t specifically within our aesthetic — a set aesthetic that we’ve set up — hasn’t been responded to that well. We think that we’ve kind of created a custom audience that’s looking for a specific look, specific triggers, specific stimuli, and when we are away from that, even a little bit, we don’t get that kind of response.
AF: You’re using custom audiences and lookalike audiences. How is that going so far?
Ronen: I know that has been hugely helpful. We had a big jump in numbers — probably between 500 and 1,000 new fans.
Small and midsized businesses on Facebook: Have you had any similar experiences?
Photos by Tim Sohn.