Breaking rules against animal sales on Facebook is poor marketing
It could be said having a Facebook account to promote an existing livestock business is one thing but having a livestock business because Facebook exists is quite another.
The enforcement of the rules banning the sales of animals on Facebook dates back to at least 2016 when an initial wave of concern met the livestock producers whose posts were flagged and left unposted. Facebook has begun deleting groups on marketplace that break the rules. For example, “Cattle Equipment for Sale,” with 192,000 members posting both equipment and stock for sale, was deleted in July. This move has left some Facebook users scrambling to market livestock and concerned about their ability to market livestock on the platform.
Karoline Rose, owner of KRose Marketing and Consulting in Three Forks, Mont., said depending upon Facebook for extensive livestock marketing is akin to parking illegally without a ticket for a week and feeling like receiving a ticket is unfair when one is eventually left on the windshield.
An email list, she said, allows producers to distribute information to potential customers who have already expressed interest by opting in. Rose recommends Active Campaign, which allows people to sign up for emails on a Facebook business page without ever leaving the social media site. She cautions that adding email contacts to a list without permission is illegal so using a platform allowing people to opt in is key.
A webpage, however, is the best route for producers, she said. Even a simple, one-page site with basic information gives a home base and credibility to a business.
In an attempt to skirt the rules by posting, for example, a halter for sale that comes with a horse, is poor marketing for two reasons, according to Rose.
“If you don’t have a Facebook business page or a small website, the quality of livestock people are going to expect is poor,” she said. “When people list it as a halter only, people will see a decrease in quality. Facebook business pages are free, just start one.”
For those who only sell the occasional animal as opposed to a fuller business, Rose said there are plenty of other options ranging from traditional avenues to classified listings with existing businesses, like her own, that will list cattle for sale from their business page and website.
With PETAs recent purchase of Facebook shares, Rose said she doesn’t anticipate any changes.
“If we look at what success looks like for Facebook, we want users to stay on the page a long time and be engaged, we want people to see cultivated content that they like rather than just scrolling, and we want our advertisers to make money,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who owns what, those are three keys to the success.”
Cultivated content that offers value on a consistent basis is at the foundation of successful business pages on Facebook, according to Rose. However, people have a tendency to be awkward in their business page posts unintentionally. She encourages posts to be made of the stuff you might say to someone in real life in a casual exchange. She uses the example of someone posting on a health and wellness business page a photo of a dinner plate with the caption, “I made fajitas for dinner!” Rose said the reaction she’s likely hoping for is unclear. To increase the value of a post, she could post the same photo with a caption inviting followers to post their favorite go-to, quick family meal. The reader is then in charge and feels compelled to share from their lives rather than just seeing a small snapshot of her life that doesn’t invite engagement.
“The reason people think their personal page does better is because they talk on it like they’re talking to their mom or friends,” she said. “It’s just conversational and that’s what we have to do on a business page.”
Rose said keeping in mind the right metrics will help drive success as well. Rather than concentrating on page or post likes, concentrate on people who take a moment to slow their scroll and engage on the page.
“It could be a comment they took the time to type out or they tag someone,” she said. “That says to Facebook they like the content and find it so interesting that it needed to be shared with someone or to their own profile. Those are the only metrics that count on Facebook.”
For Tonya Orr-Perez, account executive for AgTown Technologies in Greeley, Colo., engagement is about bringing the ranch to Facebook. Perez lives on the family ranch in remote Nara Visa, N.M., and handles the social media for their operation, Perez Cattle Company.
The ranch has a website that Perez uses Facebook to steer people toward, a permanent home online. This allows her to engage with followers on Facebook and gives people who want to know more a website to visit.
When selling cattle, in her case, she said it’s important to balance sale posts with information about the operation, the day to day activities, and the people involved.
“You want them to comment and engage,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s what makes Facebook successful — the comments, the likes, the shares. If you’re posting valuable content, Facebook knows that and your posts will perform better.”
Perez and her husband, Kyle, are parents to twins, Peyton and Libby, and she posts #Ranching101 posts about the duo’s days on the ranch. Posts range from their recent trip to Hereford Junior Nationals to running through the hay yard wearing a Superman cape to fighting boredom during a long day in the pickup. These posts, she said, have been popular because they give a glimpse into the family’s life, the ranch, and the album is filled with quality photos and funny anecdotes, courtesy of the twins’ antics, all inviting engagement.
Rose and Perez agree that engagement and quality content is the key to cultivating a valuable social media presence, but a website is important to add credibility and a permanent online home for an operation, rather than simply hoping to get away with breaking the rules on someone else’s free platform. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.