A Facebook Hack Gets a Shoe Store Free Advertising

A few years ago I met with the owner of an upscale ladies shop in a southeastern state. The store sold a wide variety of women’s clothing, but the biggest revenue category was shoes.

Apparently, ladies buy shoes. Who knew?

Facebook social media advertising tip from a shoe store owner

Photo by MoustacheGirl


[UPDATE 4/14, 1PM PACIFIC]: As Susan Rich points out in the comments below, this technique can be even more powerful in Instagram.]

Our conversation had turned to social media. I asked the owner how effective his Facebook page was as a marketing tool. “It’s okay, I guess,” he said. “But I’ve got a much better way to use Facebook.”

That got my attention.

“How do you do that?” I asked.

 “My customers all have smartphones, which means they have a camera. Whenever a customer tries on a pair of shoes and decides to buy them, we ask if they’d like us to take their picture — with their phone. Women like to show off their new shoes, so most of them say yes.”

“Do they let you post those pictures on your Facebook page?” I asked.

“Some do, but that doesn’t really matter,” he replied. “The important thing is that as soon as they go home, they post the photo on their own Facebook page. And they usually mention that they got the shoes at my store.

So we just got a free Facebook ad, and it gets seen by 500 of her friends. Two or three times a week, someone will walk into my store and ask to try on a pair of shoes their friend posted on Facebook.

All of this costs us nothing – we don’t even pay for the camera!”

The store owner had stumbled on a great way to use Facebook in its most effective form – to accelerate word-of-mouth.

In the years since we had that conversation, it has become even harder for a business to get its posts seen without paying for it. The organic reach of a business Facebook post has sunk to an average of 2%.

The shoe store owner had come up with a way to beat the system on a small scale. It still works.

It’s a technique that can be used in a variety of consumer settings:

  • A furniture store can take pictures of a customer’s new couch, in the customer’s home.
  • A car dealer can shoot a photo of a happy couple standing next to the new SUV they just bought.
  • A window company can take pictures of a homeowner posing in front of her newly-installed windows.

The key is to take the picture with the customer’s phone, not yours.

Rather than begging people to “like” your Facebook page, you can intersect with existing consumer behavior. Happy customers love the show off the things they just bought… on Facebook.

Who knew?

Question: What’s your best traffic-building social media hack? You can leave a comment by clicking here.




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4 thoughts on “A Facebook Hack Gets a Shoe Store Free Advertising

  1. Works even better with Instagram because of the hashtags. Also, lots of folks have their accounts linked so if they start with Instagram it might auto-post to FB, Twitter, and Tumblr.

    • That’s a great point, Susan. Also shows my own biases — the store owner specifically mentioned Facebook, and I spend a lot more time on FB than Instagram, so it didn’t occur to me. But you’re absolutely right — Instagram is a perfect place to do this.

      • Excellent idea. Your assignment: try it in your next class or two, and then report back to the group on what happened.