Ever since one of my sites was essentially decimated by a recent Google algorithm update, losing almost 50% of it’s traffic overnight, I’ve been considering ways to protect myself from this happening again.
Simply “writing good content” is not a bullet-proof method. I don’t care if Ricky from Income School says that’s all you have to do to be worry-free of Google updates, it’s BS. No one is safe from algorithm updates, I repeat, no one.
Yes, there are measures you can take to mitigate the risks and actions you can take to avoid potential pitfalls, but it can happen to anyone. Up until that point I had only been affected positively by Google updates, so this came as a shock.
I retained most of my rankings, not all but most, so the majority of traffic loss came from the simple fact that I lost all of my snippets across the entire site.
Without rambling on too much about the update and the traffic loss, this article is going to be about a method I’m now experimenting with to diversify some of my dependance on Google to another traffic source. An unlikely one at that, Facebook.
I’m a member at of the Fat Stacks Blog forum, run by Jon Dykstra, where you can rub shoulders with some heavy hitters that are making some impressive amounts of money with their sites.
One member in particular gets the large majority of his traffic from Facebook and was kind enough to provide a guide on how to do it. Interestingly enough his strategy is quite simple and brings in well over a million visitors to his portfolio of sites each month.
I read over his post carefully, all of his replies to comments, and got started on my own campaign using his strategy. That’s what this article is about. My results and thoughts on this strategy so far. Let’s get into it.
The simple strategy
The strategy is very simple as I mentioned before. Create niche Facebook pages, get a ton of followers (likes), and make posts with links back to your sites. It sounds quite simple in theory, but there are definitely some nuances and a learning curve.
1. Run Facebook ads to likes
This part involves running Facebook ads with the sole purpose of getting likes to your FB pages. It’s important that your pages are targeting a certain niche and demographic, so that you can send them to relevant content that engages them on your site(s).
You can create interest pages that don’t necessarily have domains attached to them, or you can use your domains branded Facebook pages. I’m doing the latter because I already had small followings and I thought I’d just build upon them.
However, I can always create additional FB pages and funnel traffic to my existing sites down the road.
So there is an upfront cost involved in this method, you have to pay for Facebook ads in order to get the audience. If you aren’t familiar with how to run Facebook ads then this can be cumbersome.
Luckily for me I already had all the business and ad accounts set up because I worked in marketing and have plenty of experience with Facebook ads.
How it works
The idea is to create several different ads targeting your broad niche, and narrow it down to the ad creative that is gaining likes the cheapest. For me so far, any ad that gets a like for under 6 cents each is good. I have a couple of ads for one of my pages that is closer to 3 cents per like.
You can do the math but it’s just a matter of time of a matter of ad spend to get your followers to where you want them to be. Personally, I’m shooting for about 30k to 50k likes before I stop the campaigns, at least temporarily.
Here’s a couple of examples:
- $500 ad spend at 4 cents/like = 12,500 page followers
- $500 ad spend at 6 cents/like = 8,333 page followers
So you can see how this can quickly add up, but once you own these engaged followers that’s it. You can now share your content with them for free. It only costs more if you run more ads, and you can grow organically once you have enough reach.
2. Post social content to the FB page
This part’s tricky and there’s a learning curve. I started out slowly scheduling something like 2 posts per day the first week. I wasn’t too strict with that either. For this I used the built-in Facebook scheduler, it’s not too bad and works decently.
I then moved up to 3 posts per day the next week, then 4, and now I’ve been doing 5 posts per day for a week. I’ll likely stick to this post frequency for a while, any more seems like too much. To increase my clicks I need to increase my followers, the quality of the content I share, or both.
Once you’re sharing this amount of daily posts I suggest you use a service like Buffer that makes the whole scheduling process a bit neater. You also get access to some great engagement reports and graphs, and most importantly to me is that it shows the clicks you’re getting. The clicks are how you can best gage the direct traffic that your individual posts are producing.
If I’m getting 5k clicks per week then I know I’m averaging at least 20k pageviews each month, likely more because we aren’t taking into account additional page visits by each user.
At my current RPM I know that 20k pageviews is going to equal somewhere in the range of $800/month…. which isn’t bad at all. I know that if I had 10x the page followers I’d likely have roughly 10x the clicks and pageviews.
3. Reposting the same content
You may be thinking, I only have 300 posts (or whatever your number is), I’ll run out of content to share at that rate! Not really, not if you’re smart about it.
First, keep in mind that Facebook is only showing each post to a small portion of your followers, so there’s that. In addition, you can absolutely share the same posts over and over again, it’s totally fine to do that. In fact, that’s exactly what you SHOULD be doing.
As you go down this road and examine your stats for each share you’re going to learn which ones perform the best with your audience. These are the posts that you want to reshare, just give them some time before they make it back into the queue. Buffer automatically stars the posts as top posts due to their engagement and make them easy to pick out from the rest.
Sometimes a post you share will be a total dud and only get a few like and barely any engagement. However, if you reshare that same content with a slightly different caption or picture it could go viral. Just like with organic traffic from Google it’s a constant game of testing.
I’d say if you have a site with at least 250 posts then you have a large enough base of content to get started. You may just have to go through your articles and be honest with yourself if you think they’d do well on social media.
If your sites are full of response posts that are answering ridiculous questions, then maybe you need to add some better content. I’m sure you know what I mean. I’m still learning what performs well for my site, and yours is likely going to be different.
Ok, let’s have a look at how this campaign has actually translated into visitors and dollars for me.
Results I’ve gotten so far
I only started this campaign in March and only recently ramped it up to 5 posts/day, so I don’t have a full month’s worth of results at full steam yet. Having said that, I can definitely see the potential.
I’ll add that I feel like I already knew my audience pretty well as this is a niche I’ve been in for going on 4 years. So I knew the questions people were asking and what gets clicks in most cases. I used that knowledge to my advantage.
Money spent on ads
I pretty regularly create a new ad or deactivate an old one. I’ll often increase or decrease the daily ad spend for a campaign as well. So this isn’t just a set amount of money that this is going to cost, it’s all estimates and it’s constantly changing.
At the moment though, I’ve got 2 campaigns going with one adset in each. In each of those adsets I have 3-4 creatives (ads) running that are each slightly different.
Each of the campaigns right now have a daily budget allowance of $10. So that’s $20/day or around $600/month for both campaigns that each go to their own FB page.
As I mentioned above this isn’t an ongoing expense and I will stop both campaigns once I feel I have reach profitability, which is still yet to be determined.
I used the example above of 5k clicks per week, I’m not quite there yet. I’m closing in on 8k clicks for the month of March all from a Facebook page that has just now reached 11k likes.
Most of March was less than 5 posts per day and the page is still less than a third of the minimum I’d like it be in terms of followers. However, the last week alone which has been in the 4 to 5 posts per day range, is close to 3k clicks. So let’s run with that and say we’re currently at 12k pageviews per month from this little experiment.
If my current page RPM is around $40, that brings in almost $500 extra each month at this small scale. If I can even 5x this, that’s an additional $2500 in monthly revenue which is nothing to sneeze at.
It’s yet to be determined how much money I will have spent by that point, or if I’ll even reach that point. But things are looking good so far. Even if I have to spend $5k to get there, which I think is an overestimation, that’s an insane ROI in my opinion. Once you get the audience, you own it and can stop the ad spend.
For me, the biggest downside is the time required to schedule all of these posts. It’s a time suck.
I created a spreadsheet full of my site’s urls I think are shareable, I keep that open in one tab and Buffer open in another. Earlier this week I scheduled out 35 posts to Facebook, or 5 each day.
I recorded in my spreadsheet the time and day each one was shared as well as the caption text used. By the way, the caption text I use is super short, a few words or a sentence max, so it goes pretty quick.
To schedule all of the posts it took around 3 hours, but I was also working on other things at the same time. I think I edited and published 2-3 articles and answered emails etc while I was doing it.
Regardless, let’s say I can trim that down to 2 hours/week or do a whole month’s worth in one work day. Roughly 210 scheduled posts in 8-9 hours. If I reach the $2500/month that would be profitable in my opinion. $2500 per month divided by 8 working hours is just over $300/hour. That’s worth my time currently, especially if I can scale up even more from there.
What about comments?
You may be wondering about who does the comment moderation and responses, no one. Per the advice of James, the guy on the Fat Stacks Forum who introduced me to this method, I barely even look at the comments and I certainly don’t respond to them.
Once you get enough followers people will answer each other’s questions and you can be pretty hands off. If some jerk makes a negative comment you have the option to hide that comment from everyone except for that person and their friends. So they don’t even know they’ve been moderated, I rarely have to do that. In fact, I really don’t even need to log into the FB page because it can all be handled from Buffer.
So comment moderation is really a non-issue. If someone messages me through messenger and it’s a valid question I might occasionally answer, but that’s totally up to your discretion. The goal is to not deal with anyone’s BS and just get as many clicks to your site as possible through your posts.
Plans going forward
If I can make Facebook a viable and sustainable traffic source then I really hope to make this work long-term. For now I’m going to continue running the like campaigns as they don’t take up much of my day to day time. They really just run in the background and I check performance every now and then to see if any adjustments need to be made. Otherwise the ads are pretty hands-off.
So I’m definitely not profitable yet because I’m running ads, but I’m working towards profitability.
I’ll also add that this is the perfect task to be outsourced, especially to someone that you don’t have to pay $300/day. Ideally it could be outsourced to a Filipino VA for $500/month that can perform many other tasks for you as well, or even an U.S. freelancer if you’re willing to spend the money. There are many moving parts to this strategy and if it were that easy then everyone would be doing it profitably.
There’s someone in my niche who’s trying this strategy and I can tell he’s using a non-native English speaker and is doing several other things wrong. I’m essentially learning from his mistakes as well.
It’s a numbers game
In the end, like many things in the internet marketing space, it’s all a numbers game. More content, more posts, more followers, more engagement, more clicks, more pageviews, more ad impressions, etc etc.
Scaling up to as many engaged followers as you possibly can will bring in more revenue every time. If I’m sharing with 100k followers it will always translate to more dollars in my pocket than sharing with just 10k, and so on.
Let me know if you have any questions about this strategy!