April 23, 2010, 3:59 PM

SitStay.com uses Facebook to connect with dog owners and spur sales

Online-only dog supply retailer SitStay.com launched a Facebook page last July to engage dog owners in conversations, post new products and offer discounts.

Online-only dog supply retailer SitStay.com launched a Facebook page last July to engage dog owners in conversations, post new products and offer discounts.

But as SitStay promoted the Facebook page through its e-mail newsletters and on its web site, it found limited traction. Then in February it began buying Facebook ads that referred users to the retailer’s Facebook page.

Since its first Facebook ads began appearing, SitStay has averaged nearly 1,200 new users per week who like the Facebook page, says Kent Krueger, SitStay.com vice president. Facebook recently changed the way users show approval for a brand, giving them the option of hitting a “like” button rather than becoming a “fan.” As of April 23, the page had 12,248 people who like the page.

“We’ve built a strong community of dog owners, many of whom hadn’t heard of us before,” he says. Those Facebook users find SitStay through either the Facebook ad or their friends sharing information originally posted on the SitStay page.

Krueger says he spends about 20 minutes a day on the page, updating information, starting—or responding to—conversations, and posting videos or photos. Rather than push products, Krueger says he uses the site to develop an emotional connection to people on Facebook. “We don’t just want to use it to market our stuff,” he says. “That’s why we’re different from the big box guys, for us it’s all about the dogs, not what we sell.”

However, SitStay does occasionally offer promotions on the page. For instance, Krueger yesterday offered the first 13 shoppers who spend more than $20 and use the promotion code of “pumpkin” a free squeak toy.

Those conversations lead to 200 to 300 users clicking directly from Facebook to SitStay.com. Krueger also says sales have increased, although he declined to disclose details.

“What we’re doing is certainly spurring sales,” he says. “We’re using Facebook to market products, but that’s just an undercurrent of what we’re doing, not our primary motivation.”

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