Small Business Tells All– How He Achieved 1081 Percent Growth on Facebook

Hello Dennis,

After following the instructions for Dennis’ AppSumo video, I was able to build a following of 3,775 fans on my FB page (from 300). That’s good news. When I post a link to a new page of my webcomic or something, my “Feedback” percentage tends to be in the 3-4% range. Also good news. But sadly, when I look at my impressions, they tend to hover around 1500, less than half of my followers. And I often get complaints from followers who are missing my FB updates in their feed and wish that they weren’t. (Sometimes the number of impressions goes up to 2,400 when I’m posting a non-link update, so maybe FB doesn’t like me linking to my new webcomic page updates so much? Even still, 2,400 is a far cry from 3,775. And when I first got all the followers, I’d consistently exceed the number of followers with impressive numbers.)

I’m wondering if there is some way you can help me figure out why FB is sharing my links with so few people even though the feedback has been consistently good. I don’t have a ton of marketing budget—and I’m having success in terms of connecting with new fans with traditional advertising and on Twitter—but this FB weirdness is baffling me.

Is there any way you can help? Even if it’s to point me at an article or something…

Dennis Replies:

This is a common problem with small business owners– either they have so few fans that content won’t matter, or they have a moderately sized audience, but no engagement. His feedback rate of 3-4% is far higher than the 1% we typically see, likely because his fans are so passionate about his content.

We like to Facebook as a reflection of the health of your overall brand power, evidenced by how many people know about you in real life or come to your website. While Alex is getting a few hundred visits a day from Facebook to his website, Facebook traffic represents only 2.67% of his overall traffic

Continued Correspondence:

My ultimate goal for my Facebook page is to build readership for my webcomic. I’d love for it to be a vehicle for new readers looking for strong plot-character-based gay romance comics to discover my work. Because of the limited reach, I seem to be getting with my FB posts, this part feels like what I need the most help with. Google Analytics tells me I’m getting about 100 to 400 hits from FB each day, which ain’t awful but isn’t fantastic. (Facebook comprised just 2.67% of my total visits over the last month.)

My secondary goal is to serve as a way to connect with my fan base and to make myself accessible as a creator in a way that’s convenient and fun for them (and for the most part this seems to be working.)

My tertiary goal for my Facebook page is the same as for all my outlets (my blog, Twitter, etc.)—to use it as a venue that promotes tolerance for those who are different and for building the self-esteem of those who have been marginalized unfairly. If there is a central tenet to the “Yaoi 911” brand, it’s that everyone is worthy of being treated with respect and dignity and that love between consenting adults is something we all should be able to celebrate regardless of whether it matches our own sexuality.  As such, my demographics have pretty much always evenly broken down 50/50 between straight women and gay men (with a not small number of cool straight guy followers.)

Interestingly, after my ad campaign at the end of May (which I started after watching your AppSumo video), I developed a much larger following of gay men (that demographic responded the best to my ads), so that 50/50 balance has gotten a bit skewed on the FB page. Still, looking at the comments and my interactions on the webcomic and blog, women and men seem fairly evenly balanced in terms of the response.

You’ll see from the reports that after I saw your video, I ran two campaigns, spending about $600 and going from 350 followers to just under 3000. (Since then I’ve organically grown to about 3,782 total likes.) For my campaign, I only targeted friends of fans who had an interest in comics and gay equality issues. (Hopefully, the reports point out what tags I used; if not I can try to copy-paste them).  I sub-divided individual ads into comics-loving, gay-rights-supporting women and also to men “who are interested in men” who liked comics. I tried my best to keep the cost of each actual conversion to a “like” as close to 20 cents as possible, thus why my $600 got me somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 new likes. This is where your advice in the video was super-awesome—I know that some other folks find it can cost as much as a dollar per conversion.

The ads that seemed the most successful were the ones that asked the question: “I say comics with gay heroes can be just as good as comics with straight heroes! What do you think?” when coupled with a close-up drawn picture of one of my characters with a strong expression (such as anger or indignation). I tried creating some ads with cartoon images of a couple of my characters that were shirtless (only shown above the nipple line, so bare shoulders) but those were immediately refused by Facebook. I’ve seen far more provocative images of real-life women in FB ads so there might be a double standard there, but as the CU images of my characters seemed to be successful, I decided not to try to fight city hall on that issue. 🙂 (And frankly, even though shirtless images of my characters are successful with my mainstream ads in terms of getting clicks, the whole vibe of my stories is as I said more about heroism and good story-telling than erotic elements, so it felt like I’d be more likely to attract an appropriate audience if I didn’t emphasize the shirtless aspect anyway.)

Ads that were least successful were ones that included a photographic picture of my face (big surprise there—who cares about me? It’s the promise of a good story that would draw people in). And ones that just asked the question “Can comics with gay heroes be just as good as comics with straight heroes?” without the introductory declaration “I say comics with gay heroes can be just as good as comics with straight heroes! What do you think?” My guess here is that the former bare question just evoked shrugs while the latter with the bold statement encouraged folks to hit the Like button attached to the ad itself to agree with my bold statement.

Likewise, another bit of copy I tried that failed was “I make comics that are great stories first and then bring the sexy. Click to learn more!” Not surprisingly, that awful bit of writing was a big fail. I think other variations of “Click to learn more” were also losers. Again, my success seemed to be about giving folks with similar interests a rallying cry to Like.

Dennis Replies:

Here we learn that the best way to attract other folks to gay comic is to message similar interests directly. We know that “sexy” ads get the most attention– Click-Through Rates as high as 0.3% and fans under 20 cents. We’ve found that Facebook disapproves most sexy ads, no matter what type, probably because of the abuse by dating companies from 2007 and even still to some degree today.

And to no surprise, when you explicitly ask for engagement, such as asking for opinions, the audience responds. Running ads to existing posts, such as via Sponsored Post Stories, you can amplify your organic power. In other words, most people are just not going to see your wall posts, no matter how clever. The life of a post is getting shorter and shorter– from a couple days now to perhaps a couple hours. So if you’re not running ads to pump up your content’s visibility, your precious time creating content is wasted.

Looking at his ad performance, we see that his social clicks are over 80%. In other words, the people who clicked had friends who were existing fans of the page. He used the “friends of fans” targeting to generate ads that automatically showed the names and images of friends that had liked his page. CTR is often twice as high when using social connections. Facebook now shows social impressions in the ad reporting, which is a huge incentive to run traffic to your Facebook page instead of your website.

In summary, small businesses with limited budgets can still be successful if they target the right audiences, carefully optimize their ad campaigns, and understand the connection between the website and Facebook page.

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