How We Got To 40,310 Facebook Fans In 4 Days

When we took over the Facebook Fan page for Weekly World News , they had 3,244 fans. 4 days later, we had 40,310 fans– 10 times larger. We’re going explain exactly how we did it in this exclusive article for In the coming days, we’ll demonstrate how fans translate into trackable revenue, how to perform analytics, integrating social widgets (Open Graph Protocol) with your site, and other aspects of effective Facebook marketing. But today we’re looking only at growing your fan base quickly.

The Background

A few weeks ago, Facebook made some massive changes– more of your personal data as publicly available, you could like something from a website (as opposed to only from Facebook), community pages launched to challenge Wikipedia, and so forth. But the biggest change in our mind was that “become a fan ” was changed to just “like”. The user doesn’t know what they’re liking– the cute saying, the underlying page, the website they’re on, or their friend’s remark.

It used to be that you could tell when clicking on an ad would take you to a fan page or to a website. The fan page would have the “become a fan” button, creating an in-line fan– meaning that they can become a fan without ever having to go to your page. At first we thought this was terrible, since we felt that users wouldn’t want to be yanked outside of Facebook. Therefore, the ads that send users to Facebook pages would have a higher CTR– and this, we reasoned, would be something Facebook would “like” (pun intended), too.

But it’s a funny thing how data often proves you wrong. The highest click-to-fan conversion rate we had achieved prior to the F8 change was 55%– that’s for an in-line fanning of the ad. After the switch to like, we saw conversion rates consistently in the 50-90% range. We tried a range of ads– here are a couple:

RULE #1: Ask users to like you in the ad.

Give them a reason why. In our case, Weekly World News has plenty of entertaining content about aliens, Michael Jackson, Elvis, you name it. We tried capitalizing the word “LIKE”, writing short versus long copy, testing dozens of images, and trying out different interest targets. Don’t make it complex– keep the language casual, as if a friend was telling you about something cool.

When you have a high click-through rate, Facebook rewards you by decreasing your CPC. As you test out hundreds of ad variations, you’ll inevitably find a couple winners. In this example, we got 631 fan for 95 cents. That’s not a typo. We had a CTR of 0.98% to get 770 clicks. Then 631 of those 770 clicks became fans from within the ad itself (what’s defined as an action).

This doesn’t count the fans we got from users who then clicked to our incentivized like page or the viral users that we got when friends of fans came in to participate on our wall, because they saw in their news feed that their friend just became a fan.

Warning: We saw spammers that were impersonating brands, just to drive likes to their page and then monetize via affiliate ads– explained here . Because there is no direct connection between the ad and underlying page, if you’re a spammer, this open the door to all kinds of tomfoolery.

RULE #2: Send users to your Facebook page.

Don’t send them to your website, which removes the ability to get a like from the ad. If you send them to your website, the like action now means they like the ad, not the page. It’s true that when you send traffic to your page that you no longer have control over the ad headline– it becomes the page name. However, the ability to get fans from the ad is well worth the loss of being able to choose a headline, since the choice of image and targeting are far more important in determining ad effectiveness.

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