From Zero to 66K Views in 3 months: My Facebook Site Experiment

The following is a copy of the email sent to the newsletter subscribers on August 13, 2023. Use the form at the top of the page to subscribe.

Recently, I’ve been exploring the possibilities of using Facebook to boost site traffic, and I think I’ve stumbled onto something worth sharing.

It’s been a journey of experiments, discoveries, and learning from failures. In this email, I’ll take you through my experiences with a Facebook-facing site that has seen surprising growth.

From the strategies I’ve employed to the lessons I’ve learned along the way, I hope these insights might resonate with some of you. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s an interesting piece of the puzzle.

A few days ago I tweeted this –

I was thrilled about that site making it to the 50K monthly views point because this turns it into a Mediavine-eligible site. And one that could potentially be sold down the road to buyers who are not currently Mediavine publishers.

Actually, as a Mediavine Premiere publisher, I get to board my sites to Mediavine as soon as they have a few thousand pageviews. Unfortunately, Google requires sites to be at least four months old before they can show ads, so this specific site isn’t monetized just yet (except through a few Amazon links that brought in $89 in the last 30 days).

I wasn’t aware of the four-month limit for display ads until I applied with this site last month. You see, I never had a site hit as much as 5,000 monthly pageviews before it turned four months old.

With Google traffic, it typically takes 9-12 months to start seeing significant traffic from a site.

Turns out it’s much faster with Facebook traffic.

In fact, when I went to grab a screenshot for this email, I noticed the site was blessed with another spike a few days ago, putting it at the 66K monthly pageviews point.

And that’s actually not the only site where we’re seeing success with generating Facebook traffic. Not even the one with the most traffic.

However, it’s a test site created solely for this Facebook experiment, so I thought I’d share some insights here.

Our Facebook strategy: A recap

I was not the one who came up with this strategy. It was shared in great detail in the Fat Stacks forums (members only) and covered here by Alic Hasib from Strevio:

How to grow your Facebook traffic blog post

It goes something like this –

  • Create a Facebook page around your niche.
  • Run paid campaigns to get page followers.
  • Post on your page, sending people back to your site.

Sounds simple, right?

I still managed to fail miserably during the first few months of following this strategy. Fortunately, I had some good people, including Alic himself, help me out with some tips.

Some days, I felt like we would never crack this thing. I was very close to giving up.

I started by outsourcing the work to one of our team members. She was great with creating engagement on the pages. Really good. Millions of views and shares to some of the posts.

But no traffic to the site.

I took over for a while, applying a different approach. I had to immerse myself in the pages to do that, but I could see the numbers improve. I could see the potential.

Then, I had to leave for a month and go on our road trip. I left two of the pages in the hands of a very capable and experienced team member. He applied a more analytical approach, using Strevio and data from Google Analytics, and finally scored! With both pages!

In fact, with the other site, we had a total of more than 150,000 pageviews from Facebook over the last 28 days.

Case Study Site Numbers

As mentioned, this is a brand new site, launched in May 2023. The niche is a small niche within the Home & Garden vertical.

The Facebook page was launched around the same time, as soon as we had the first few dozen articles. It now has 27K likes. Most of them were gained through paid Facebook campaigns.

The site itself currently has 109 published posts.

We spent a total of $1530 on buying likes.

As you can see from these charts, there were bursts of campaigns. We stopped buying likes a few weeks ago. The page likes count is still growing organically, albeit not at the same rate.

If you divide $1530 by 27,000 likes, you’ll get a cost of 5.5 cents per like on average. But since some of those likes were organic, I would put the cost per like at 7 cents per like on average.

I have other sites in the same niche, so I expect the site to have an RPM of $25-$30. There’s a good chance it will cover the cost of likes within a month of revenue. I just need to wait one more month before we apply to Mediavine again.

Insights from this case study

Now that I’ve shared the numbers and screenshots, here are a few insights from this case study. These are things I need to be reminded of, so thanks for being my sounding board and making me sit down and think about them!

I’ll start with a couple of Facebook-specific insights and move on to more general lessons.

It’s not just a question of posting more

We started out by posting very engaging content on our Facebook pages. Turns out, that’s easy to do. People love funny memes and pictures and will like and share them ad nauseam.

Which won’t get your site traffic.

The key to getting posts that drive traffic was to experiment. A lot.

We had to figure out which posts actually send us traffic and which are duds. Then, double down on what works, digging in further and creating more content using the same kind of concepts.

This is a mix of immersion – you have to spend a LOT of time staring at posts and numbers – and an analytical approach.

Staring at posts and numbers can be done through the Facebook analytics interface, but my team (and myself) prefer using Strevio.

Strevio does two things for us –

First, it shows us the same stats Facebook Analytics does, but in a way that’s easier to digest. It also shows you the actual post alongside the numbers. IMHO, that really helps the immersion aspect.

Strevio also reveals the most successful posts by other pages in the niche. Granted, you can’t tell how many clicks they actually had, but you can see likes, shares, and comments per post. Combined with your understanding of how those translate into clicks in your niche, this is great intel to have.

Strevio isn’t cheap, but if you’re serious about your Facebook strategy, it may be worth it for you. And there’s a free trial, so you can try it out and see if it works for you.

Click here to try Strevio for free.

Understanding what works and what doesn’t work in your niche and for your audience is crucial. And it leads to the other key to Facebook success:

Facebook-oriented content

As you may know, we struggled with Facebook traffic for quite a while. I asked several experienced Facebook folks to take a look at my Facebook pages and all of them said right away:

You’re promoting the wrong kind of content.

Not one of them could say with confidence what the right content for my niche would be. But their years of experience generated enough of an intuition to tell me that what we were doing wasn’t good enough.

And they were right, of course.

We managed to break through Facebook’s glass ceiling only after a long immersion in Strevio’s environment, followed by creating content that was geared toward Facebook.

And since there were no competitors with content in the specific niche of this site, this is how I approached creating new topics:

I collected a couple of dozens of article titles from sites in similar niches. I based my selection on Strevio’s reports on their most successful posts.

Next, I went to ChatGPT (GPT4) and asked for ideas on how to create similar posts in our niche. It did not disappoint, coming up with some new topics that I would have never thought of.

From there, it was easy.

I added the topics to the site’s content plan spreadsheet and from there it went into our production line. Using Koala and our AI Wrangling method, we quickly had a bunch of decent articles to share on Facebook.

And it turns out the Facebook experts had been right all along. Facebook-oriented content worked much better. From this point, it was – and still is – a matter of digging into what works best and trying to create more content in the same vein.

Don’t give up too soon

That would be my next insight. And one I need to remind myself of.

Traffic is a long-term game. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get traffic from Facebook, Google, Pinterest or a mailing list. It’s going to take time to figure things out and make it work.

It’s always a leap of faith that requires a huge investment of time and often of funds as well.

Nothing is guaranteed. You could also fail. But if you’re taking that jump, stay at it for a while and try to improve and work your way towards actually making it work. Don’t give up too soon.

Last, but not least, it’s a team effort

I’m grateful to the team member who took the time to employ the lessons I detailed above and actually make it all work.

In my case, it’s not my personal success. It’s the company’s success. Each team member contributes to the bigger picture of our sites’ success.

This site’s success is no different – it’s the result of a team effort.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it, a snapshot of my journey with Facebook, filled with ups, downs, and a few surprises.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’m excited about what we’ve managed to achieve.

30 Comments

  1. Very helpful!
    You say that the FB experts you consulted told you that you were promoting “the wrong kind of content” — can you generalize at all about what kind of content did indeed work for you on Facebook, in terms of generating visits to your site (vs. getting shares or likes withing the FB ecosystem)?
    Of course, “it depends,” and every situation is different.
    But even with that caveat in mind, for example did you find that FB posts with cute pictures did well, but anything news-based did poorly? Or that helpful tips did well, but anecdotes did poorly? That kind of thing?

    • Hi Robert,
      See, that’s exactly where I still haven’t been able to figure out a rule that would hold across niches/audiences. I wish I had a simple answer, or any answer, but I don’t. Some things worked for us in some niches, and not in others. The only thing I can think of is “intriguing”, but what exactly intrigues people isn’t the same in our various niches.
      I can tell you that cute pictures did zero for click through. They can work well for engagement, but we couldn’t get people to click through to the sites. The images had to be something that makes people go “oh!” and not “awwww”, and of course that has to be matched by the content itself. I hope this helps!

  2. Hi Anne,

    In your experience what does your page like rate need to be to get reasonably priced page likes? So how many page likes would you expect to see per 100 impressions to get likes in the 5 to 10 cents range?

    Thanks,

    Andrew

    • I usually look at the time rather than the number of impressions. I budget each ad at $5 a day, and let it run for 24 hours. Then I turn off the most expensive ads and leave the ones that get the best rates. 24 hours later I go through them again. I just looked (running a few campaigns atm) and it settles down within 1000 impressions. Possibly sooner (but I don’t usually check that soon)

  3. I’ve been using social media traffic for all of my new sites to generate traffic right away as well. I was just reading Scott Delong’s blog on how to start a site. He was the creator of Viral Nova if you remember that one. He does something very similar. He doesnt even do keyword research for his articles. But for every new site he pays to build up a facebook page and boosts his posts then starts building an email list to try and keep that traffic.

      • Hi there Anne…Great going with this!
        I recently came across that legendary fb thread on Fat stacks and now just read your email…Need to give this a try…Did you mostly post content on the page that are your website links or you also posted memes and other normal image posts there as well? If you did what was the ratio like on a daily basis? I read in a post that Scott Delong avoids posting any website link atleast for the first month and only posts content that will satisfy Facebook and the audience without clicking away from the platform…

        • We typically post a mix of website links, links + images, and occasionally an image with no link (rarely). The images we add are well crafted and take a while to create (we have a VA that works 100% on Facebook graphic design). The ratio keeps changing, between pages, and sometimes on the same page. Not sure it really matters that much? I know Scott Delong’s approach, but in my humble experience, it works just fine even if you post nothing but links right off the gate. I don’t think the algorithm cares, as long as people interact with your links.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Anne! When you find a type of content that works are you posting links that use the posts featured image or pictures with a link in the copy? I’ve heard a few times now from ones that have nailed FB traffic that they focus on posting links after building engagement through images with no CTA.

    • Hi Brock,
      We post a mix of posts. Some are the embedded links that Facebook creates, and others are links with an image that we add. We actually add a link to most posts and I don’t think it bothers people.

  5. Hey Anne,

    Thanks for the guide. Does FB work well with only some niches? Or can we make it work with any niche? Is it more about the way the content is positioned rather than the niche itself?

    • Good question, Luke. I don’t think I’m an expert on Facebook, and my experience is much limited than that of Alec Hasib’s and others. With that in mind, I think that it probably both. It’s probably a combination of the type of content, how it’s delivered and then that’s easier to do in some niches. I also don’t think you can necessarily carry over the same type of posts from one niche to another. I have a feeling you have to figure out the audience for your niche and focus on that.

    • Great info!
      Were you profitable before getting 20k likes – meaning while you were paying for likes at some point were you getting enough traffic to your website from FB posts, or did that not happen until you got enough likes?
      Did you ever boost your posts or create ads for them?
      Thanks!

      • Hi Dan,
        I can’t say I track these things at this level, sorry. I wouldn’t take a loan out based on this strategy (or any web publishing strategy, for that matter), but my general working assumption is this – once a page gets 10K followers, it should be bringing in at least 10K visits per month. Our successful pages do much better, but I like this benchmark because it means that at $25 RPM, and assuming 10 cents per like (conservatively), you pay $1000 to bring the likes and then you get $250 a month in revenue, so you start seeing profit after four months. It’s a very general rule of thumb, and mileage may vary (a lot).

  6. Hi Anne,

    What’s the general content structure that you use to increase total revenue from FB traffic?

    From Strevio insights, the competitors I have in my niche that get significant traffic to their website are only posting a video embed from a viral YT video on the page with no text. Is this sufficient to generate good income from Mediavine ads in your experience?

    • Hi Liam, I don’t think there’s a single type that would fit all sites/pages. If this is what’s been working for your competitors, and you think it’s something you could do, then I would give it a go. I don’t have enough experience with this type of content to comment on Mediavine ads, but I would imagine they wouldn’t approve such a site. Then again, you could always add more text after the video? I would experiment with video only + video with text and see if it even makes a difference.

  7. Hi Anne!,
    Highly appreciate your advice and I have started Facebook because of you. Plus, I’ve been following you on Twitter since 2022 and I’ve listened to every podcast you hold including the recent one with Authority Hacker.

    I have one question which needs advice from you.

    Currently, I’m running a $5 per day ad set for gaining page likes and my cost per like is $0.06. I think that’s good.
    My ad set contains 6 ads ( previously there were 10 and I cut down 4). Now I’m thinking of starting another ad set for the same audience for gaining the page likes even more. That ad set is also willing to run $5 per day and 5 add inside. But I’m afraid that I damage myself by running multiple ad sets (two) to gain page likes for the same audience.
    Or what if I scale the spend amount to $10 per for the ongoing ad set? Because end of the month, I’ll pay $300 for ads. My Facebook page still has about 500 likes.
    May I know what you think based on your experience and what is your suggestion ☺️ highly appreciate your advice.
    Thanks.

    • Hi Chester,
      I keep my ad setup very simple. I create the ads from inside the page itself, so without dealing with sets. Each ad is a standalone. I typically run 5-10 ads per page. Yes, this means my ads are competing against one another, but it also makes it easier for me to cull the expensive ads fast. So far, it works. I get my ads to the 4-6 cents per like for most pages, so I don’t think there’s an issue with that.
      I typically put it at $15-$20 a day per ad, to run indefinitely. I just stop the expensive ones and keep only the more successful one. I’m not sure it’s idea, but it’s very simple for me to run. I hope this helps!

  8. Hey Anne! Very nice content.

    When should I start the likes campaign? I mean, how many posts to have on the Facebook page before running ads for likes?

    I am from Brazil, where plenty of people use Facebook, and I don’t see many competitors. So I’m very excited to start the strategy.

    • Hi Ramon,
      You can start the campaign even with an empty page. I usually start it with 3-4 posts on the page, and start posting content regularly as the campaign launches. Would be interesting to see how this works in different countries!

  9. Hi Anne,

    I’ve just started a Facebook page for my blog and was thinking about content strategy: 2-3 motivational/meme/no-CTA posts then promote 1 blog post.

    1. What do you think of this strategy?
    2. Do the posts leading up to the blog post promo need to be directly related (or at least warming up the audience for the post promo)?

    Blogging from Kenya, binging on your content 😂

    • Hi Jeff,

      In my experience, you don’t have to provide too many non-CTA posts. I see them as “filler” in case I don’t have anything to share from our sites. The trick is to share content from your site in a way that resonates with your audience and makes them want to learn more (which they can only do on your site!)

  10. Hi Anne,

    Great article. I have three questions for you.

    1) You mentioned in this blog post that after Chat GPT helped you come up with some article ideas, you then created “Facebook-oriented content” which ended up being successful with your overall Facebook strategy.

    But, can you explain what “Facebook oriented content” means? Are you saying that these kind of articles that you wrote (or AI wrote) are inherently different or unique from the original articles on your site that you unsuccessfully promoted on Facebook? What made these new articles, that you deemed to be more “Facebook oriented content,” work so much better and entice your Facebook followers to click through the link to read the article?

    2) You mentioned in one of your replies to another comment that you posted on Facebook 3 to 10 times per day. Now, when you’re doing this, are you linking to 3 to 10 different articles every single day?

    For example, if you post six times on your Facebook page in one day…does every post that contains a link go to a unique page on your site…or do you sometimes link to an article in the morning, and then in a new Facebook post in the evening, link back to that same website article?

    3) Also, when you post 3 to 10 times per day, do you notice that it irritates your Facebook followers? Do you see people “unlike” the Facebook page at high rates?

    4) And lastly, would you say the ultimate goal of your strategy is to simply get people onto your site to interact with Mediavine ads and earn money that way? Or, for example, are you sending them to articles on your site that have affiliate links to Amazon or other products (like a “best” or “top 10” article/listicle) in hopes of having them buy items on other websites so you can earn a commission?

    Thanks Anne.
    -Michael

    • Hi Michael,
      Good questions. Keep in mind that my Facebook strategy – like all things – is dynamic and keeps changing. Moreover, what works for me may not work for you or others. With that in mind –
      1. Essentially, things that users who are interested in the topic are likely to want to read about even when they weren’t actively looking for that question. Think “3 key ways to keep your dog healthy in summertime” and not “Are grapes safe for dogs”.
      2. The number of times we share to a page varies and we try not to repeat the same link twice in the same day. I’m sure it happens occasionally, but we try to avoid it to keep things fresh.
      3. Not that I’m aware of. The algorithm doesn’t show them 10 posts a day. If we’re lucky, one post a day gets shown to a follower… So it balances things out.
      4. At this point, it’s mostly display ad revenue, but we do have Amazon links here and there. I hope to experiment more with info products soon.

      • Hi Anne,

        Thanks a bunch for responding. Your example about the dogs, especially how you framed it, made a lot of sense! I two have two quick follow-ups.

        1) You mentioned somewhere (maybe Fat Stacks) that you test different images with your Facebook ads. When you said that, did you mean that if you create one ad, you rotate that ad’s photo (with other photos) throughout the day/week until you land on a winner? Or that you just keep creating (and culling) new ads with new photos every day?

        2) You mentioned info products in your final sentence. In your opinion, do you have any ideas (in a broader/general sense) for what kind of products could be offered to sell to an audience that is very passionate for a topic…but on the surface wouldn’t likely be interested in an info product?

        I know that sounds weird, but I’m just curious. Quick example: if your audience wants to make more money, you simply could sell (or resell) a wealth building course. Or if your audience wants to lose weight, you can sell them a digital eBook on weight loss and exercise tips.

        But what if your audience loves, for example, disco music? Or sports card collecting? Or tech equipment like speakers and subwoofers (all random niche examples).

        And so, I was just wondering, if perhaps you have any thoughts on thinking outside the box to get an audience interested in an info/digital product that could maybe be adjacent to their primary interest/passion?

        A quick example of what I mean: if the reader is passionate about speakers and hi-fi music gear, he or she probably would never buy your info product on it. Instead, they’re simply interested in the official product (Sonos or Sony speakers, for example) and the hobby/passion surrounding hi-fi gear.

        So…is there a way into creating and selling an info product to that kind of hypothetical passionate reader that perhaps I (and maybe others) haven’t quite considered?

        Thanks for your time.
        -Michael

        • Hi Michael,
          1) I typically run multiple ads at the same time. I like to start with 10, then cull the ones that cost the most and keep the best ones. Adding a few more to get the number back to 10 and follow the process, until I find my winners. I do this over a few days, at which point I usually have my 4-6 cents per ad range.

          2) Good question about info products. I’m still early on in that journey, and only launched a couple of info products so far. I need to dive into that properly to gain insights, so I don’t think there’s anything I can say at this point that would provide any value, sorry. The only thing I can say is that it probably changes by niche, and that as with everything else – we have to experiment to find out the answer…

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