During the launch of my book, I tested a promotion that grew my Facebook fan page from nothing to over 1200 likes in five days for less than $150 in expenses. Here’s exactly how I did it and why you may, or may not, want to do it yourself.
I’ve had a Facebook page for a long time, but I pretty much ignored it. It sat there with about 30 fans and no interaction from me. Facebook requires your page have 25 “likes” before you can customize the URL, so long ago I got 25 friends to click like so I could lock in my own name as a domain name. You should do this immediately to claim your name.
When you plan any marketing, it’s important to be clear of your desired result. Most business owners and beginning marketers aim too broadly and usually fail in their marketing. This is the weakness of most branding advertising and why it’s common to hear, “I ran an ad and it didn’t do anything.” You’ll be more successful with smaller, more refined goals.
This Facebook promotion was a small phase of a strategically timed book launch. From the 10,000 foot view, the goal was to saturate my market with news of my new personal finance and investing book from multiple fronts with a tiny budget. The Facebook page was one small piece of a multi-phase online sequence.
Here were the goals with the Facebook Page test:
- Get likes to my Facebook page
- Get opt-ins to my email list
- Expose a new audience to and sell books
I often catch my new business or advisor marketing clients following what they see other successful entrepreneurs doing without understanding the strategy behind the scenes. This is often a huge mistake because if you follow what’s observable, you may be missing the key details that can make it work.
For example, if you followed this little Facebook campaign to sell books, you’d be disappointed to see the results. It sold very few books, but that was third on the list of objectives. The focus was to get “likes,” and everything after that was a bonus. It’s impossible to pursue multiple goals with equal energy—all three will fail. Instead focus on one outcome, with others secondary.
Prior to this test, the bulk of my Facebook marketing had been using a personal profile or paid advertising. I wanted to experiment with the Facebook Page because the marketing tools for pages are becoming more powerful.
I wanted to get “likes” to the page for credibility because getting your first 1000 plus followers on a page helps build social proof that others look for when meeting you for the first time online. Building a new following on Facebook enables me to continue the relationship until the time they may need one of my products or services.
The second goal was to get people to opt-into my email list. Again, this is another way to continue the relationship over time by providing lots of free training and information.
Last on the priority list was to introduce the right people to my new book.
Facebook Reveal Tab
The first thing we did was create a custom landing tab on my Facebook Page. I have several pages, but this one is in my name as opposed to a business name. It also uses my photo as opposed to a logo. Here is a discussion about why you should consider a personal presence on Facebook instead of a company or logo.
There are many ways to create your page. You should consider a graphic designer to create your images and text. You’ll also need someone to set up and do the programming for the custom tab. Each page can have several tabs. A tab is the Wall, Photos, or in this case, a custom designed one. Consider a tab like a page on your website.
I’ve tried doing everything myself to hiring a service that sets it all up and charges a monthly “maintenance” fee. If you’re running a lean home based business, these monthly fees will quickly add up. Unless you’re sophisticated and making money through your page, these fees will probably not be worth it.
What some of my clients and I are using now is simple software called DoubleYourLikes. It helps you create the graphics and uses a very simple editor to quickly create Facebook tabs that look professional. The software is fast and easy, and it has a low one-time fee WITHOUT a recurring subscription.
DoubleYourLikes creates a reveal page which allows you to display one tab to new visitors and then show something different after they click “Like.” People are more likely to click “like” than enter an email address, so it’s a less obtrusive way to build a prospect list.
“What’s in it for Me?”
The key to success on a Facebook page is to give something of value to everyone that clicks “like” on your page. Always remember “What’s in it for me?” Give someone a good reason to click “like” on your page. That reason should be the answer to one of their problems that your business provides the solution. This can be in a video, a downloadable report, or anything that provides helpful content—not a brochure.
Once you get that set up, send an invite to about 30 of your friends. Once you get 25 “likes,” name your Facebook URL so that it is set in stone. (Do this right away to lock in your name). Instead of an obscure domain name like www.facebook.com4847309%$#$#, instead it can look like http://www.facebook.com/ChuckRylant
Get First Visitors
After everything was functioning properly, I began inviting my existing Facebook friends to the page. My assistant did this manual process nightly until everyone had been invited. Facebook only allowed us to invite a limited number of people each twenty-four period. A lot of your friends will click like just to be nice.
Simultaneously we posted links to my personal page as status updates once a day for a week with an ethical bribe to influence them to take action. Each day we posted something different:
- “Get a free sample of Chuck’s new book at (link)”
- “5 Steps to Getting out of Debt — free video training series (link)”
- “Nine chapters of Chuck’s book Free (link)”
When I posting links, I use a trackable link shortener like goo.gl to measure how many people click the links. This helps me measure what captures peoples’ interest to later use in email subject lines.
I also posted the same links in Twitter and Linked.
Running a contest on Facebook can be very effective but I found there are pros and cons to it. I will cover the downside later, but first let me explain how the contest works.
You need to use a software application designed specifically for contests to make it efficient and to stay within Facebook’s rules. You don’t want violate their terms of service. They are the dictator of their regime with no phone number, email, or way to contact their overseas slave labor if they ban your account. It’s not that they’re incredibly difficult to deal with, I’m just sayin.
I used a product called Wildfire, which I’m reluctant to mention, but there are others on the market. It kind of did what it was supposed to do, but not completely, and their customer service was disappointing. Their software helps you create a custom Facebook tab and manages your contest. I offered a sweepstakes for a free Kindle with my book installed to a randomly drawn winner. The software will even draw a winner for you.
- Click like
- Enter name and email
After they entered, they were supposed to be sent to a feature allowing them to share the contest by posting a link on Facebook so their friends could also enter the contest.
Here is where the viral power of this type of software could be powerful. If one friend shares this on their page and/or with five of their friends, this process repeated over and over can become viral. The problem was the software was temperamental. It worked sometimes, but most of the time I tested it, or during feedback from friends, it froze up during the share feature.
If the contestant entrant successfully shared it, only then would then be kicked over to another page where they would be offered the option to enter their name and email for free training videos and a sample of my book. The structure of your contest should vary depending on the order of you priorities.
I used the Kindle contest as a reason to create a Facebook event. Facebook events are very effective because it’s one of the few ways you can send your entire friend list a private message. Use this with discretion, but it works VERY well. Most people think a chance to win an Amazon Kindle is pretty cool, and I hadn’t used an event to promote for a couple of years, so I didn’t get any complaints.
I also used this same opportunity to send a message my other email subscribers. Everyone received an invitation to enter my contest and this drove my email subscribers to my Facebook page.
1659 people visited my contest page. 1,105 people entered the contest. A total of about 1200 new people clicked “like” on my new Facebook page. There is no accurate data how many people shared the contest application and the number of people that entered my email list and/or bought my book was very, small.
From the perspective of getting new Facebook “likes,” it was a success. Getting email subscribers and books sales—It was a complete failure.
However, the contest was designed with likes as the top priority, so the other two goals were bound to be less successful. Because of the software technical issues, I suspect only a very tiny percentage of contest entrants were ever exposed to my email list or the free book sample.
It’s hard to determine with this first test if the software is solely to blame for the low book sales, but there is an important psychographic that should be considered.
You Get What You Pay For
After talking with other authors and marketers, I’ve found similar sales results from Facebook contests. What you offer as an incentive will largely determine the success of your contest. Let me ask you which would be a success:
- 10,000 Facebook page likes / 10 book sales
- 100 Facebook page likes / 90 book sales
There is no right or wrong answer because it depends on your goals, but who you attract will largely be determined by what you offer and the hoops entrants have to go through to enter. Free and easy is not always better.
I assumed a free kindle would attract a mass audience of readers. Presumably, that would at least weed out those who couldn’t read. If you’re pursuing CEO’s of Fortune 500 corporations, they’re highly unlikely to spend time entering a sweepstakes for a drawing for a $100 give-away. It was obvious in hindsight, but initially, I got caught up in how easy and inexpensive it was to attract a high number of “likes” quickly.
After the contest, I deleted the names and email addresses from the entrants because it attracted the wrong people. I’ve spent thousands of dollars building similar sized lists in the past, so deleting that list was hard. But during the contest, I assembled a group of people who the majority had no relationship with me and were only interested in getting something for free; many had no jobs, money, or interest in the services I provide. It was a cheap lesson.
If I were to do this again, I would focus on getting smaller numbers, but better qualified leads. Giving away something more specific to my business would have attracted fewer numbers, but the people that clicked “like” on my page, would be far more interested in the type of content I provide on my page and it would be mutually more valuable.
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Please share your contest experiences or questions below.