Case Study: Bubble Tea Shops Use Boosted Facebook Posts for Customer Acquisition

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Merchant: Boba Guys
Size: 2 locations
Locations: San Francisco, California
Platforms: Facebook, Google, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat, Twitter
Bottom Line: Paid social media advertising works best for customer acquisition, while organic tactics work better for customer retention.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, and Google are just a few of the digital marketing channels used by Boba Guys, a successful bubble milk tea shop with two locations in San Francisco.

“We manage online marketing pretty casually,” says co-owner Andrew Chau. “Most of our efforts focus online, but when we have a special message to get out, we use paid marketing and it’s almost always with Facebook.”

Like many merchants, the team behind Boba Guys relies primarily on unpaid marketing campaigns for customer retention, using organic tactics like posting exclusives and inside news on social media. Chau estimates that 90% of his marketing is unpaid, and he says that either he or someone else on his team tries to personally respond to every Facebook message, tag, comment, or tweet.

Ten percent of Boba Guys’ marketing is aimed at customer acquisition. Chau says those campaigns are almost always paid, and they’re almost all run through Facebook.

“Of the Facebook ads, it’s about 50/50 between boosted posts and targeted campaigns,” Chau says.

The ways in which Chau and his business partner, Bin Chen, use Facebook ads depends on their specific goals. In cases where they are looking to promote a message that has the possibility of being shared or tagged—like a big announcement or a product release—they rely on boosted posts.

The average Boba Guys Facebook post has between 50 and 100 likes, or 1,000 views. For $5 to $10, Chau says he can expect 2,000 organic views and 3,000 to 5,000 paid views.

“Right now, we have a consistent campaign for page likes. I think it averages $200 per month,” he says. “We usually do one to three total of boosted posts and targeted page ads.”

Email marketing isn’t as important for Boba Guys, in part because Chau says his loyal customers already come back habitually without having to rely on discounts.

In evaluating the effectiveness of his digital marketing initiatives, Chau relies on reach as a key metric. He also looks at “favor engagement,” mainly through @share tags. (For example, when a customer posts “OMG! @username, we gotta go try this. This is SO YOU!” on social media.)

“If a post has 10 to 20 @share tags, we know it’s good content,” he says.

Despite his social media successes — with more than 12,000 followers on Facebook and 6,000 followers on Instagram — Chau says it’s still a struggle for Boba Guys to maintain relevance in a cluttered digital marketplace. One thing he knows for sure is that forging deep connections with loyal customers is an important component.

“We still need to compete with other businesses and ads that have more resources. Fortunately, social media is all about connection, which is something we do well,” he says. “As long as we continue to strive for deep connections, we should be fine.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.