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This case study demonstrates how to get thousands of likes, shares and clicks for your content at less than a penny per engagement.

Then, how to leverage that engagement to reduce the cost of your main ad campaigns by up to 64%.

  • JD

    Jonathan Devine

    over 4 years ago #

    Excellent article and experiment, but it me it's not about the $0.005 per click, it's about the higher CTR when you re-ran the ad to high-value targets.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Nailed it, Jonathan. It's really just about setting a good foundation for the main campaign.... priming the pump.

      The half a penny just makes for a good headline :)

  • MH

    Marc Heuberger

    over 4 years ago #

    This actually was an incredibly inspiring read for me. It got me thinking about social proof, and how in many businesses it can make a real difference. I have a couple ideas I'm going to test thanks to this, and once I have some stats I'll come back and share. :)

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Marc! Social proof is extremely powerful, but we take it for granted. Would love to see your results, please do post them here or hit me up on Twitter (@joshuasturgeon)!

  • JH

    John Huntinghouse

    over 4 years ago #

    Great post. We did something similar with our FB page for our blog but instead of utilizing it for a specific post it was for actual page likes.

    Same principle worked there as it did here. People don't realize the power of social proofing but it's extremely powerful.

  • AG

    andrew gale

    over 4 years ago #

    Great unique perspective! Finally not the same content everyone else is posting :D

  • AR

    Alain Raynaud

    over 4 years ago #

    The article makes sense to "prime the pump", but I can think of one major limitation. If you are serious about promoting your content to high-value customers, it won't take long before you accumulate a significant number of likes. Once that happens, the priming you did doesn't matter anymore, and your costs will have been the same with and without priming. So the savings the article mentions do not scale and will be very short lived. Not a waste of money, but not really a money-saver either.

    • JH

      John Huntinghouse

      over 4 years ago #

      It's a great way to get started if you don't have a base to build upon but it is true that once you do create a base, it won't really add that much value beyond your organic and paid reach among the high-value customers already present.

  • PL

    Pierre Lechelle

    over 4 years ago #

    Great article. However, I've seen very bad results, conversion-wise, on "low-value" countries as mentioned in the experiment.

    As an example, we acquired Free Trials at $0.7, but never got a customer (out of 500 trials). I'm guessing, our offers, and pricing, weren't adapted to these countries.

    The overall learning, is that you can acquire cheap traffic but you'll probably need to adapt your product to these audiences if you want to convert them at the end.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Hi Pierre - Thanks for reading!

      Agreed. The cheap engagement isn't really the end game here though.

      The second experiment targeted "expensive" high value audience on Facebook.

      Before we advertised to the target audience, we "primed" the Facebook post with a lot of low cost likes (experiment 1).

      Then we ran a split test (post with likes vs without likes) targeting the high value audience. The post with a bunch of likes had 64% less cost per click and 920% higher click through rate than the one without.

      The lesson is basically that social proof had an impact as a variable in our split test.

    • MH

      Marc Heuberger

      over 4 years ago #

      @pierre-lechelle I don't they ever had any intention of converting that traffic at all. :) He was just trying to make the ad that was designed to target his actual audience have more social proof.

  • AS

    Adam Szabo

    over 4 years ago #

    Inspiring read, thanks for sharing!

  • DD

    Deandre Durr

    over 4 years ago #

    I can't wait to test this out myself on various platforms (hands rubbing)

  • LT

    Luke Thomas

    over 4 years ago #

    How did this help the business? Did you acquire new customers/leads?

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Luke - This was all an experiment for one of my blogs, not a business. But the business value would be derived from making a Facebook campaign more cost effective.

      So basically, take your best performing campaign on Facebook and reduce the cost per lead by 64%. Obviously, your results may vary :)

  • KB

    Kevin Biondi

    over 4 years ago #

    Great post, I was wondering where you were going with the cheap engagement from abroad, but like how you leveraged it for results in meaningful campaigns to your true target audience.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Kevin. I think there are some more applications out there..will be interesting to see where others take it!

  • YF

    YoYo Fu

    over 4 years ago #

    I was wondering how you were going to deal with the bot problem, that last part was really smart.
    "Go to your Facebook page and click Settings > Banned Users, then select “People Who Like This Page” right after the “primer” campaign is finished, so that you don’t have to guess at who came in from the experiment."

  • EL

    Eric Lam

    over 4 years ago #

    Nice hack!

  • OE

    omar el

    over 4 years ago #

    This is excellent. Does the cost of the first "low value" campaign justify the cost difference between the post with likes and the post without likes?

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Omar. I think the cost is justified. The primer campaign cost about $6. I saw a 64% reduction in cost per click when running the high value campaign. Even with a small $100 campaign targeting a high value audience, that yields over 1000% ROI (spent $6 to save $64). It goes without saying that the cost savings are likely to diminish or at least vary with more scale, but either way, the numbers point in the right direction :)

  • ER

    Erik Rivera

    over 4 years ago #

    Great post! Did the social momentum have a positive affect on your quality score too?

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Erik! We did see an increase in our Facebook relevance score, but I didn't include those results in the article because I thought they might be influenced and skewed by choosing an audience with more English speakers.

  • WR

    Wahid Rouhli ツ

    over 4 years ago #

    Reading this article, I didn't feel like it represent the title because it talks about something we already know. getting a higher CRT is a great thing but here the ROI is not positive even though the results are here.. so to break down fb cpc we sacrifice our ROI.

    Thanks for the experiment anyway.

  • AZ

    Aaron Zakowski

    over 4 years ago #

    Great test @jsturgeon. I did a similar experiment a while back to see if I could get better engagement with a post that had lots of likes. Unfortunately, in my test, I was surprised to see that more likes on a post didn't make a big impact on engagement. Might need to go back and run my test again.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Aaron! I'd encourage you to keep testing, but it's entirely possible that I just got lucky :) I'd also be interested to see if there is a bias for social proof among certain industries or interest groups. I targeted people that were interested in SEO, SEO, marketing, etc. There's a chance they are more impacted by seeing lots of likes.

  • JY

    Jon Yee

    over 4 years ago #

    Why not just use Fiverr and buy low quality likes? It sure beats having to 'work' for it.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      A few reasons: a) This can be cheaper and faster than Fiverr b) it doesn't break Facebook TOS c) there's a chance that real humans respond, even in the primer campaign

  • SK

    Stefanos Kythreotis

    over 4 years ago #

    Josh, really nice article and a great idea to test out! I might be trying it out, although I am kinda held back by the fact that advertisement in low-demand countries could lead to fake likes and such. Thank you for sharing!

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks, Stefanos! Totally understand your hesitation. They way I got around this was to remove the page likes after the primer campaign was finished. Others have also suggested that in the future, you can simply remove a specific country from your targeting, so that it doesn't mess with your organic reach.

  • LA

    Louis Andre

    over 4 years ago #

    Once again, some fresh ideas with clear applications for anyone. Thanks a lot for sharing this knowledge.

  • RG

    Ramya Gogineni

    over 4 years ago #

    @Josh Sturgeon one question I had while reading your post was your assumption about your audience being primarily male. I would argue that our test has confirmation bias since you chose an image that would largely appeal to men. A true test of your assumption would have been to run two simultaneous campaigns with 2 different images. One with a male-friendly image and one-female friendly image. What do you think?

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Hey Ramya - you're probably right about the bias. The truth is, our CTR was so high on the "primer" campaign that the picture probably doesn't make much of a difference. In other words, I'm not worried about optimizing the primer campaign...it's just a means to an end.

  • DW

    Derek Wyatt

    over 4 years ago #

    Good insight on targeting lower value clients, but somehow I feel this is the new version of a click bank. Boost your likes for pennies on the dollar.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Sorry, Derek, not sure what you mean by that. We used cheap likes as social proof to generate better campaign stats for our target audience. It was a means to an end...not the end.

  • PM

    Poonam Mathur

    over 4 years ago #

    Thanks for sharing your experiment! Great post. I saw something similar on another blog and the clicks for social proof concept is really interesting. About your comment on SEO - I agree that the Likes probably have no impact, but with the value placed on Facebook Shares these day, there should be some SEO value on that side.

    • JS

      Josh Sturgeon

      over 4 years ago #

      Thanks Poonam - yeah, I think the jury is still out regarding the true impact of social signals on SEO. If anything, there is an indirect influence on the authority that a visitor perceives of an article with high social share counts...and that could lead to more links.

  • TY

    Takeshi Young

    over 4 years ago #

    If you're just trying to goose the social numbers to build social proof, it's probably cheaper to buy likes from third party sources. You can even get them for free on services like AddMeFast.

  • CT

    Charles Thomas

    over 4 years ago #

    As a writer who should be seeking publication I see all the usefulness of your ingenious usage of social media. I even see that I should be self-advertising and offering things for free. I also stop writing when I do other things. It's an interesting dilemma.

  • WE

    William Egan

    over 3 years ago #

    Awesome article, thank you. I wonder if you could run the same ad simultaneously to both high and low demand markets, just to speed the results up? I'm going to try it now, haha

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