It all started in November 2016 with a pillow prototype, an iPhone and a 26-second video.
"It was kind of by accident," said Tom Sailors, founder of Mermaid Pillow Company. "We got our first mermaid pillow sample. That same night, my kids started to play with the pillow, and I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we shoot a quick video.'"
They shot a 26-second video with an iPhone and posted it to Facebook, which immediately went viral. The video now has more than six million views. "That was kind of the catalyst to getting us started on Facebook and the catalyst of this company," he said.
After seeing the success of their first video, Sailors decided to use Facebook to guide nearly every aspect of his business, from product research to marketing. Mermaid Pillow Company has generated more than $10 million in sales this past year through Facebook ads.
Now the company sells more than its "Mermaid Positivity Pillows." It also sells bracelets and blankets for kids. "The pillows, blankets and bracelets include characters that the kids like along with a positive message," said Sailors.
Business News Daily spoke with Sailors about how he uses Facebook to market his brand and products. Here are a few ways he uses the social media network to grow his business.
Use Facebook to research potential products.
Before a product is created, Sailors knows it'll be a hit. How? He goes on Facebook. Not only does he use the social media platform to market his product, but he also uses it to generate ideas and products.
Sailors uses audience interest through Facebook's advertising portal to determine the popularity of potential products such as a shark or unicorn pillow.
Facebook tracks the pages users like. For example, if an individual likes a page associated with mermaids, Facebook tracks that. As an advertiser, you can see how many people are interested in mermaids. That's how Sailors decides what product to create next.
"I would bring a list of all these ideas for pillows, and I would take those to the Facebook ad platform. I would search those [ideas] and make sure they had two or three million interested in them," he said.
If enough people were interested on Facebook, he created a product based on that interest.
Make short and engaging videos.
Once a product is made, the Sailors create a short video with it and post it to Facebook. Sailors believes part of his success is attributable to their short, genuine videos.
"I think the videos are … real or authentic," he said. "They're not polished commercials. People see these coming through their feed and they almost – they don’t look like a home video – but they certainly don't look professional."
While the videos might be created on an iPhone and aren't embellished, they do exactly what Facebook loves – generate engagement.
People go to social media to be social and connect with friends and their favorite brands, not to be pushed products and be subjected to slick commercials. Sailors' videos appeal to that desire, and consumers appreciate the authenticity of the videos.
Use Facebook's targeting features to target your ideal customer.
After a video is created, it's shared and promoted on Facebook. The social media platform knows a lot about its users, which makes it easy for advertisers to create highly targeted Facebook campaigns.
"We would create the pillow, then create the video around it, then … target the interest based on whatever the pillow was, and that's kind of how we developed all of our pillows," said Sailors.
Creating videos and using Facebook to market the products has been widely successful for the Mermaid Pillow Company. It uses Facebook for about 95 percent of its advertising efforts.
Use Facebook Insights to determine the success of campaigns.
Facebook Insights is free, and it has valuable tools advertisers can use to continuously improve their campaigns. Facebook gives you everything you need to know to decide if your marketing campaign is successful, said Sailors.
"For instance, if I design a new pillow today and I put that on Facebook and say, 'I'm going to have a budget of $500,' I’ll know in three or four days if that campaign was worth it. Facebook will tell me, 'You spent $500, but you've gotten back $1,500 in revenue," he said.
Along with knowing if a campaign was successful, Sailors also creates more than one campaign for each product. "When we launch a campaign around a new pillow, we’ll create a video for each one, but we also create other ads to test those ads against each other," he said.
Facebook allows you to test multiple versions of ads to the same audience to determine which one is better. "Facebook gives you all of that [data.] It’s just a matter of logging in and looking at it and making changes based upon it," he said.