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Use a Facebook Campaign to Find New Fans

This guest post is by Matt Robison of Propdrop Web Development and Marketing.

In mid-April of 2010, I officially launched Pitbulls.org, a site for Pit Bull owners to connect with other owners and read accurate training and health information about their pets. At the same time it would help curb some of the myths out there about the breed, and promote rescue shelters in general. This was a cold launch with no prior promotion, and the blog started with only 20 articles.

By October 1st of 2010, after less than six months, the Pitbulls.org Facebook page had almost 40,000 Likes, and the site itself was ranking in the top three Google results for some of our main keywords.

I did no guest posting. I did close to zero link building. These more traditional, mainstay-type methods do work and they should always be part of your repertoire, but for this site I decided to go in a radical direction, ignoring the regular methods and seeing if it would pay off.

And it certainly paid off.

A steady stream of Facebook Likes

The initial key to everything rests in a Facebook ad that I ran sporadically from April to July. It was targeted at people in the US who had some mention of “pit bulls” in their Facebook profiles’ interest lists, and who had not already liked the page. Here is the ad:

Note that when I originally ran this ad, it had the old Facebook ad formatting, which had the image above the text instead of to the left of the text. Everything else is the same.

Three points to note about this ad, besides the targeting:

  1. The image used is also the main image for my Facebook page, establishing clear continuity.
  2. The ad asks a question, getting the user to say “yes” internally. Honestly, who would think that this dog is not cute?
  3. The ad contains a clear call to action: Become a Fan (when Facebook still used Fans, not Likes).

Most importantly, this ad did not link to my website. When someone clicked on this ad, it did not send them to Pitbulls.org. Rather, it sent them to the Pitbulls.org Facebook page.

Now this seems crazy. I’m paying Facebook to send traffic to Facebook. Imagine paying the girl behind the counter at your local coffee shop for a cappuccino, and instead of giving the cup to you, she drinks it herself.

But it turns out that people are much more likely to convert if the action you want them to take is within Facebook. And the action, in this case, was to Like my page.

I set the daily budget to $40.00, and sat back to see what would happen.

Here are the stats for the first day the ad ran:

The Actions column shows how many Likes I got directly from the ad: 247. But that day the site actually got 498 Likes. So friends of people who Liked our page from the ad were also Liking our page, doubling our result. This is the other reason you want your call to action to be inside Facebook: instant viral potential. And due to the high click through rate (CTR) of my ad, the cost-per-click (CPC) was very low.

The results just kept getting better and better. Here are the final lifetime stats for the ad:

Yes: 18,575 clicks. And at that time, over 28,000 Likes on the page. That is only 3.5 cents per Like. And the momentum we gathered was priceless. The site continued to gather Likes organically, and three months after I stopped running the ad, it passed the 40,000 mark.

One question you may ask: why didn’t I just up the daily budget, and get a lot of Likes in just a few days? Why just $40?

The answer is in the previous paragraph: I wanted to let the momentum play out as much as possible and in turn maximize the ROI of the ad. We received 18,575 clicks, but over 28,000 likes. There are almost 10,000 people who would never click on the ad—costing me money—but who still Liked the page.

Engaging new fans immediately

The ultimate goal of all of this is not just a Facebook Like. I wanted these people to go to my site, become engaged, and start building the community.

Most people recommend that you have a clear, customized landing area on your Facebook page with a strong call to action—especially if you’re spending money advertising it. See the ProBlogger Welcome tab on this site’s Facebook page for a good example. You will hear that it would just be a waste of money to send users straight to your wall. And generally, this is true—especially if your blog is already established.

But if you have a clear call to action on your wall, and interesting content, I find this approach works just as well, and flows more coherently into the natural way a person uses Facebook. One the same day I launched the ad, I also launched our first photo contest:

This got people visiting the site, registering for an account, and sharing their entries. The contest announcement remained on top for a couple of days, before I started posting links to other articles on the site. People continued to Like the page, and continued to visit the site. All in all, our first contest garnered 205 entrie—not bad for a first run.

Photo contests also have another added bonus: you get to post about the winner. And usually the winning picture garners even more Likes and interaction than the contest itself.

Action items

Pitbulls.org now has almost 12,000 registered users, and 10% of those have opted into our mailing list. All of this is a direct result of the initial Facebook ad campaign. Our Facebook page currently sits at over 47,000 Likes and delivers consistent referral traffic.

The site now also ranks very well for its targeted keywords, even though I have yet to do an organized link campaign. Nearly every link the site has acquired has been acquired organically. Again, this is a direct result of the Facebook campaign. Without it, Pitbulls.org would be nowhere near as popular as it is today.

A campaign like the one I have described here would be even easier today, as Facebook has just implemented full News Feed displays for content that’s Liked by a user. Back when I implemented this plan, you had to get someone to actively share or comment on a story to get it to show up in their News Feed. Now just a regular Like will do.

Facebook continues to make itself more and more useful for people who are trying to market their websites. You can ignore it only if you want to deliberately sabotage your efforts.

I would encourage you to try out a Facebook ad campaign targeted directly at your demographic. You don’t have to spend a lot. $100 should give you a pretty good idea of the potential in your niche. Just ensure that the ad has a low barrier to the call to action, and gets targeted people to say “yes” to themselves even before they click on the ad. Here are some quick examples to help get you started:

  • Photography niche: use a picture of the latest, greatest camera, then begin your text with something like “Do you drool at the thought of owning this camera?”
  • Food niche: Use a picture of a fantastic looking meal, then begin “Wish you could cook meals like this?” or “Does this food look tasty?”
  • Political niche: Picture of Obama or George W. Bush, depending on who you want to target, then begin with “Does looking at this face make you physically ill?” Best for US audiences, of course.

Have you found Facebook to be a good source of traffic for your blog? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

Matt Robison is a web architect and entrepreneur who offers services and blogs way too sporadically at Propdrop Web Development and Marketing. In addition to Pitbulls.org, he also owns and operates a site publishing in-depth LCD TV reviews and several other online properties.

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Comments

  1. corey says:

    Great timing with this article. I am in the process of launching a facebook campaign for a food blog that I run. I like the advice you stated about lnking the ad to a like on your facebook page. Once you get followers to your fb page, you can easily get them over to your site.
    Thanks.

    • Yes, I also have the same view with you. Sometimes, the hardest thing is to get the first few fans in our facebook fan page. Once we have get those, the next few hundreds or even thousands will be easier.

  2. Maaike Quinn says:

    Wow, this sounds promising! I am going to try this right away :)

    Thanks!

  3. You can pretty much double your traffic by doing this..people will join just because your in their targeted market..just make sure you watch your spending..you want to make sure your getting more fans for your buck..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  4. Very relevant post and yes, when advertising on FB it’s great to send traffic to your FB page. Although still a good place to advertise your site as well IMO

    I’ve seen cuter dogs tho’ ;-)

    Cathy

    • I prefer to put up ad for the FB page rather my blog as base on my experience, by promoting your facebook page, you will have better conversion rate i.e. money well spent.

      If for blog, the are high chance that the “ad clickers” will only come and go.

      However, that is just my personal experience.

  5. Sean says:

    Congrats on your success! This sounds like a really good idea, I’m gonna try it as well! Thanks! :)

  6. LAjuice says:

    I thank you for this article! My blog is brand new and I am fighting to pull in new visitors. I have about 30% of my traffic from facebook, and for some reason it feels like its easier to reach a target audience.

    Unlike most bloggers here and in the SEO world, I don’t write my blog to generate ad revenue/income. My content is all I care about since I am an author trying to develop a following. Content seems to be good so far, since once someone comes to my site, they return and stay (I have a 7 minute average time on site, a 40% bounce and 70% return visitors).

    So I need to drive new traffic to the site, and a google ad campaign would be too expensive given my keyword issue. However, a Facebook campaign might be just the ticket!

  7. shannon says:

    I’ve been following your articles and I think I have a strategic plan as far as my blogging niche. I’m just not sure how to convert my current blog to that niche and should I start the FB page first and then post articles from the blog? I’m soooo lost here, but if anyone can help…

  8. Excellent article. I am in the process of creating my initial content for my blog and have been thinking about different ways to gain momentum for my site. Great timing, and great post!

  9. I’m getting a steady stream of visits from the Bees in Art Fanpage – hadn’t realised that I could have a landing tab, though. Will do this right away.

  10. Really nice article. Extremely clearly laid out with excellent description of the numbers involved in the campaign (which I love!) I think people learn the most from these personal experience type articles.

  11. Andrea says:

    Awesome article, thanks so much for the breakdown with numbers. I’m still sort-of Facebook illiterate, so this was great! We just launched our free, interactive Wild Fables story app, complete with associated Facebook page, so I can’t wait to try this to get the word out. Thanks!

  12. Facebook is a GREAT source of referral traffic for my blog. Ever since I started focusing on Facebook, my pageviews have increased dramatically. That said, I’ve never done a paid for campaign on Facebook. Not really in the budget at this point. Interesting article though. 47,000 likes, sheesh! I’m getting close to 2000 and about to do back flips.

  13. This article is right up my alley. I was just looking at the ad info for FB the other day. But could you clarify something because I was a tad confused? I didn’t quite get the daily budget thing. Maybe Im just overcomplicating it in my head? So if you did $40 a day that obviously means that you won’t be charged more than that a day… but does that limit how often the ad is shown/how many people see it etc? If my budget was just $10 a day and I ran the ad for a week ($70 total) would I still see a big increase in “Likes”? And can you cancel the ad anytime?

    Thanks!
    I dont remember seeing a lot of detailed info anywhere.

  14. Justin says:

    I think I need to start utilizing Facebook a little more. I was curious as to how useful Facebook ads are.

  15. Garrett Moon says:

    Thanks for sharing your campaign and numbers with use. Very well executed! I think a lot of people find it difficult to understand paying Facebook for more Facebook activity, but your results speak for themselves. I think some additional takeaways are the importance of finding a niche and being willing to be ultra specific about who you are targeting. Nice job.

  16. Derek Dostal says:

    That is a fantastic article. Thanks! Particularly the data and statistics you included. It is one I will need to read again and again.

    It really takes a bit of time for a person to digest all that is possible on social media sites to the point it feels like “pick your poison”. Facebook sounds like a great advertising campaign. Twitter is building buzz for some people and LinkedIn is a place to be seen. That is only the major ones.

    I am still nervous about Pit Bulls though….

  17. Nice post!, I’m looking to start a Facebook campaign soon, I was going to send the traffic to a product page but it maybe worth building the likes up instead!…

    All the best,

    David Edwards

  18. Great Post Matt

    I have run FB ads but always directed at a landing page. I had not even thought about building a fan base and then eventually bringing them to my site. A great bidea that is just the opposite of what I have been doing.

    Thanks again,

    Rick

  19. Wow you read my mind!! I have been looking at the option of advertising on Facebook for about a week. I have been very pleased with my traffic increase just from friends sharing my site. I have a smaller budget but I hope to get a quality return.

    Thanks for the push!

  20. Allen Walker says:

    Wow! That’s a really insightful case study. :)

    Especially the part about letting the momentum spread out by spreading it across a number of days instead is something I will keep in mind for future.

  21. Great post Matt! Sending people to your Facebook Page instead of an outside site is very smart. Allowing people to view your content directly in Facebook while they stay connected with their social network is key to converting users. Retailers are doing this now by bringing their entire store offerings directly onto their Pages. This is adoption by the corporate world is what’s going to help Facebook dominate the internet.

  22. Barb says:

    Fantastic article. I have been trying to drive views and comments to my blog but I have ignored my Facebook page. I think you have great ideas here with proven results. My question is: Does your “yes” question to draw your audience have to be a eye catching/ kitschy type or could it be a current event or a charity you donate to? Something of a more serious subject or nature could elicit a “yes”.

  23. Fred says:

    Launching the contest (on your site, not your FB page) at the same time as your Facebook campaign was really clever.

    I was planning on launching a FB campaign to coincide with a FB-hosted contest to entice the initial Likes for my page. However, your strategy might be a better one.

  24. I liked the way you described everything about your Facebook campaign in this post. Its a great way to get maximum exposure at a minimum cost for your sites. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Facebook is without a doubt a great marketing tool. The tricky part about it is that it does not appear to be a marketing tool on the surface. But, as you develop a web of ‘likers’ you have expose their friends to the fact that they ‘like’ whatever it is that you have out there. They interpret the likes as basically a recommendation and are more likely to give your product or service a try.

  26. Ann says:

    I’ve read different people’s accounts of success & failure with FB ads. Most just threw up an ad and crossed their fingers.
    I like how well thought out your plan was.
    My blog & FB page are new so I want to build them up. But I will keep your advise in mind for the near future.

  27. Ira Mency says:

    OMG this is like the secret to the facebook universe. I am off to try, at least hopefully try to implement some good ideas on mine NOW. Thank you so much for this post.

  28. Ira Mency says:

    OMG this is like the secret to the facebook universe. I am off to try, at least hopefully try to implement some good ideas on mine NOW. Thank you so much for this post.

    Reply

  29. I like the idea. I will have to breakdown and start my facebook account. LOL I know I’m behind the times. I still have the dial phone.

  30. I like the clarity with which you described each step of this process. I’m very excited to give this strategy a try and see the results.

    What tips would you give for someone who either doesn’t have the funds to buy ad space, or for someone who just doesn’t want to?

  31. I am using facebook for a long time.. Thanks for such an informative article…As it gives some additional tips for ads and promotions….

  32. mark ways says:

    Great post and inspiration to use Facebook. How did you calculate the expenses? And, have you been aware it will finally cost you more than 1000 dollars to run the ad? What budget do you recommend for smaller blogs? Thanks mark

    • Scott Kelley says:

      Mark I think you can cap what you want to spend everyday. They have some pretty cool tools to monitor your page and impressions. I think FaceBook Advertising works and like this article states, it is a great way to see if you do have a market and test it before diving in.
      Have a great day!

  33. Scott Kelley says:

    I really like this post. i experimented with advertising my off line business trying the same technique. It worked as i used the demographics to the counties as it was an Electronic Repair Service. Most my friends gave it a like and i published news and repairs performed. it did not grow and i did not get the response of my friends sharing my talents. But I did get a lot of exposure and people saw my ad. they may not have liked it but they saw it. I had over 60,000 impressions in a two month period and spent a little over 10 bucks for the exposure. When I compare that to the local newspaper I found it to cheap and a good way to get a off line business exposure even with out a call to action.
    I am now launching a new passion via blog and started creating a fan page last night to do another campaign and am going to do what this article talks about. So great timing and I like the new iFrame.
    Thanks Scott

  34. Scott Kelley says:

    I had to come back to share someone that I find to give great information through a News Letter. She really knows FaceBook and is up on the changes they implement. I find her to be a great source and I am sure you will to. But just look her up on FaceBook…Introducing Kimberly Castleberry. Check her out.

  35. Chris says:

    Thanks for the first hand account of your success on a Facebook campaign. I am close to completing a new blog and have been trying to think of ways to help promote it. Based on your results I think I will give it a shot as it sounds ideal based on the fact that the topic is something people list in their interests.

    Cheers!
    Chris

  36. Liane says:

    This was VERY helpful as we are just getting started with our site and are figuring out the marketing and building of our community. We knew Facebook was going to be useful but this provided some specific points I had not thought of yet. I am finding this site incredibly helpful and appreciate the courage it took to venture out onto to this path and way of making a living!

  37. Great post Darren. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Marco Paulo says:

    The stats are really amazing! Great job! Your plan was so ingenious. Now you’ve got a huge community. I can’t wait to try your method. Facebook here I come!

  39. Incredible post and very informative!

    Facebook is actually starting to become a new medium to advertise products and services. Personally, what I think made a lot of people like the campaign is because of the picture and the tag line – it was really collar grabbing. It doesn’t necessarily force you to “Like” the page but there is just something about the image and the tagline that is simply irresistable. Clever!

  40. Brad says:

    Thank you for the article and the prod. I’ve thought about it in the past but never wanted to pull the trigger. Each day, however, I’m realizing more and more how much ignoring Facebook is essentially hurting my reach.

    What really pushed me over the edge, however, was your rationale that people will like the page simply because their friends like it and it gets posted to their feed. That’s really where the power of FB lies which is why I’m also trying to integrate FB comments into my blog as well.

    Anyway, within the past 24 hours or so, over 125 likes and counting.

  41. Jeremy Darko says:

    Very interesting insight. I think I will experiment and see exactly what happens. I will let you know the results. Thank you for sharing! Jeremy Darko | “Creativity Takes Courage”

  42. laid back says:

    Thanks for the tips, going to put together a campaign right now.

  43. I have did this before, and it really works. You get lots of fans quickly.
    And if you an international site, do not target to us, and you will have lower prices per click!

  44. Dotcosecrets says:

    Thank you for the tips.
    The key to success of Facebook ads campaign may be the picture and the text in the ad. It will be very effective and save the money. :)

  45. ScorpionGod says:

    Yeah you got amazing success from FaceBook ad campaign. That’s good. I’m also has a facebook page but I didn’t started a facebook ad campaign. now I am hoping to start a one after reading this article!

  46. Emily says:

    Very cool idea…congrats on the results! I’ll have to look into that. :)

  47. Ralph says:

    I just tried this for my website. Its only running for a little less than 24 hours and went from 5 to 32 likes / fans in that time frame.

    I did do a very targeted audience;
    Australia > Sydney (i believe) > Age defined > Interest defined and a max of 15 dollars per day with a max 1dollar bid…

    Will let it run for another day and then adjust.

    Did a similar thing with Linkedin once.. horrible…if you want to read more about it >
    http://www.hothitmedia.com/why-you-should-be-careful-with-linkedin-ads

  48. George Tee says:

    Nice post. Facebook Ads is a great help to a business. It make it possible to connect people who share interests and activities across political, economic and geographic borders so the targeted audience will be reached despite of different locations.

  49. This article has had me thinking for a number of days. And even though I haven’t yet begun a FB ad campaign, I’ve already had a 10% increase in my FB Fans (okay, I went from 55 to 61 . . .).

    Step 1: More than anything, you made me realize that I needed to “clean up” my FB page. I got rid of the (fairly crappy) landing page I had, and then learned how to use all the header space that FB gives me: I made a long profile picture that ties to my “logo”, tells briefly what I do and has a picture of me. Then I used those five little “photo” boxes to tell more about what The Boat Galley is. On a fan page, those rotate randomly, so you have to be careful — you can’t just cut up one long image like you can on a personal page. See it at http://facebook.com/TheBoatGalley

    Step 2: On my site, I used to just have a box in my sidebar with all the subscription options: E-mail, Twitter, FB, RSS. I reworked that a bit, AND added a FB Like Box right under it, close to the top of the sidebar. I had been getting about 1 new LIKE a week, and now I’ve gotten 6 in 2 days. I’m thinking it’s because I’ve made it just one click, instead of of click to go to the landing page and then read it and click LIKE (maybe . . . ). I know from my blog stats that I used to get people to go to the landing page, but then they weren’t clicking LIKE. I should have realized the problems sooner!

    So even though your comments about not using a landing page and using the wall to draw people in to your site was only a small part of your article, I just wanted you to know that it paid big benefits for me. I knew I had to do better with the FB stuff, as that’s such a powerful way to share. But you really made me think of ways to accomplish it — many thanks!

    And yes, I’m thinking of running a FB ad next . . .

    • I should have added that yes, I realize that someone who clicks on the Like Box will probably never go to my wall and see what I’ve done there. But the goal was to get LIKES and that Like Box (like what Darren has here) did that. So it’s two sort of unrelated things, both to get to the same thing: more fans.

  50. Roy C.Chukwu says:

    Waooooo, very insightfull.

    I am yet to do my first contest on my blog. I am going to grow my FB page before this so that I can just do what you have done.

    Hope it works for me.

    Cheers!,