As most of you know, getting Facebook likes on your blog’s page.  There’s a natural reluctancy to give away likes freely on FB because most people are afraid of spam that show up on their newsfeeds.  It’s naturally more “expensive” for someone to give you a like on Facebook versus Twitter because Facebook is that much more personal for people.

So for me, while my Twitter follower count was trending up to 10K, my Facebook like count was growing a measly 10-20 likes a day.  So this prompted me to investigate what different techniques I could use to boost my numbers.

Things I’ve tried

  1. Invite your friends – Facebook makes it easy to literally go through your friend list and invite them to like your page.  Your friends are much more likely to do this since they personally know you and want to support you.  This will probably get you your first 100 likes.
  2. JustUnfollow automated DM response – Love it or hate it, JustUnfollow works as a way to convert Twitter followers to Facebook likes.  The percentages are still pretty low and from my experience, you typically got likes from other bloggers looking for you to reciprocate.  This is resulted in a decent flow of 5-10 likes a day but it’s not enough.
  3. Run contestsRafflecopter for me has been a godsend for me ever since I found out about it from a TripHackr contest I won.  It’s such a super easy tool to run contests on your blog and on Facebook.  The key with Rafflecopter contests is that you make it mandatory for every person entering to like your Facebook page.  This is incredibly useful because you’re basically guaranteeing a new like for anyone interested in your contest.  For my IHG contest, I gained 469 likes.  Not too shabby. (Note:  Facebook recently changed their policy around this and what’s known as like-gating.  It’s against the rules now but you can still set up Rafflecopter to have a custom task around liking a Facebook page).  An alternative to Rafflecopter that I’m playing with now is Giveaway Tools.

Contests were a surefire way of building Facebook likes but I was looking for more.  Unlike Facebook there isn’t habit of follow back like on Twitter so I couldn’t really “hack” it so to speak.  This is when I turned to my latest experiment.

Facebook ad experiment #1

This being my first experiment, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  Here’s some insight on how it went down.

The goal of this wasn’t to spend a lot of money.  I wanted to see if ads were an effective way of bringing in new likes and basically see 1) how much it would cost per like and 2) what would the quality of these folks be?

Setting it up

My set up was simple.  Since people love travel quotes, I thought this would be a brilliant strategy to get people to interact with my ad.


The rest of the original set up looked like the following.


I basically picked all the geographic locations that I was receiving hits from according to Google Analytics and really focused in on people in the mindset of travel.  What I didn’t realize that happened automatically in the set up was that it was targeting people that were friends of those that had liked my paged already.  That ended up being a big mistake.  The group was way too narrow and it didn’t give me the proper exposure I was looking for.

If you look closely, this said my potential audience for this ad was 20.  I probably should’ve seen that.



Bidding was simple.  All I wanted to do was optimize the ads for more likes.


Also note that I set my daily budget to be $5 a day as to not spend a crazy amount on this experiment.

The failed results

The results of course were disastrous.  I had this up from Friday October 2 – Tuesday October 7 and this is what it looked like.  In essence it was costing me $0.71 per like.  That seemed crazy high at the time.


Setting it up again

Seeing the poor results only a few days in, I knew something was wrong so I created another ad in the set and made some tweaks to really open it up.  I even call this ad “GAP – More open”.  Gotta love the ghetto descriptions.

I used the exact same image as the first ad.


The big change here was that I really opened it up.  I kept the countries the same except I added the Philippines because I read that another blogger had a lot of success with getting likes from the Philippines.  Age wise, I opened it up to 45 instead of 40.  Interests I made it high level at Travel instead of really honing in specific behaviours.  Lastly, I made sure that I was limiting myself to people that were friends of existing followers but instead, exactly the opposite by targeting people not connected to my blog at all.



This was exactly the same.


The better results

The results were way different than the first time I ran it.  Running from Tuesday October 7 – Monday October 13.  Where I was paying $0.71 per like, I was getting likes at $0.03 with this ad.  Huge difference.  So over the span of 7 days, I was able to gain 901 new page likes.   The peculiar part of this experiment was that all the likes seemed to have come from the Philippines.  The Facebook algorithms must know that the chances of getting page likes are greater in the Philippines so it targets all of its efforts there.


Observations from Experiment #1
  1. If you’re looking for new likes, it makes a lot of sense to just keep the ad less specific thus targeting a greater potential of people.
  2. Facebook ads are incredibly effective in gaining new likes over a very short span of time.
  3. At 3 cents a like, it could be worth it if you’re looking a boost.
  4. Philippines seems to be a hot bed for likes but there’s a good reason for that (see below)
Warnings about paying for likes

I had a great chat with another blogger about Facebook ads and it was only then that I realized what was going on and some things you need to be aware of when buying advertisement for likes.

  • When optimizing for likes, Facebook basically goes to the countries that have the lowest “cost per Page Like”.
  • Countries like the Philippines are an example of such country where income is low and algorithms deem their “Like value” to be low.
  • You need to question how valuable these users are as English may not be their first language nor would they be in my demographic of luxury.
  • Even though your likes go up, your engagement will be lower as these type of users typically are not as likely to interact.  Lower engagement rates mean that they are less likely to show up on people’s newsfeed based on Facebook’s new algorithms.
  • I didn’t know this but apparently there are malicious users out there trying to deliberately ruin Facebook pages by mass liking pages, thus plummeting engagement.  I wouldn’t say my new users are under this category but you do have to be careful.

Facebook ad experiment #2

Setting it up

Taking all the things I learned from my first experiment, I decided to try something a little different.  Instead of pure “Likes”, I wanted to get more click throughs to my website for more views and engagement on my site and hopefully in turn result in returning readers.

With “Clicks to Website” ads, this gave me an opportunity to play around with different images to see what resonated with people the most.




This time, I focused on North American, European and Asia/Pacific English speaking countries.




Like my first experiment, I didn’t want to spend a boat load of money.



The results of this experiment were pretty interesting, cost me $34.96 CAD, and resulted in a modest amount of click throughs.

This first report gives you an overall idea of how it performed.  What’s interesting here is that Image #4 did significantly better than any of the other images that I used.


The next report shows you what that image is.  Looks like luxury resorts and beach flat out resonates with the most people.  The other interesting part of this report is that I got most of my click throughs through mobile and not desktop which seemed counter-intuitive to me.  This may be connected to the fact that Malaysia brought me the most clicks (see next report) and they spend most of their time on the phone?


The last report shows some deep insights on exactly what ended up happening by geography.

By rank this is what countries produced results (all other countries had really low results probably because Facebook pushed impressions to #1):

  1. Malaysia
  2. USA
  3. UK

By Country – Malaysia did well and now I’m thinking this was because of a similar effect as the Philippines.  I added them into the geography targeting since they are in the top 5 in terms of traffic.  I’m actually okay with this since I know there are real readers coming from the country.

By Clicks – Interestingly, USA had a higher click through rate than Malaysia.

By CPM – Malaysia is way cheaper than USA and the UK so I can see why Facebook pushed more impressions there.

By CPC – Cost per click in the UK is really expensive!


Bottom line

Overall, this was a great learning experience for me just to see how Facebook ads behave given a set of parameters.

The bottom line is that $68.18 later, I have 900+ new likes and 600+ more visitors to my site.   You can be the judge about whether that was worth it or not.

Take Aways
  • Facebook will drive impressions to countries that are essentially the lowest bidders.  The Philippines and Malaysia are examples of this.
  • Be careful with likes from lower income countries and adverse effects with engagement.
  • Targeting too specific of a group will lead to barely any impressions.
  • Be very specific about the countries you want to target and get engagement from (ask yourself where your potential audience for your blog are coming from).
  • Beach/tropical photos do way better than any other type of photo.
  • Although I didn’t try this, are there proxies in targeting for the “type” of person you want to reach?  For example, if you’re looking to reach people in the luxury end, behaviours and interests you can target to hone in on them?

Would love to learn how you guys are leveraging Facebook ads.  What has been successful for you?  Just drop a comment below!

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Will Tang

I'm the writer behind Going Awesome Places and through its growth, I've learned a heck of a lot from trial and error. I have a passion for helping others succeed and through TBB my hope is to empower you with what works (and what doesn't) so you know exactly how you can take your blog to the next level.

13 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Will this is really great. I’m testing a Facebook ad campaign myself and incorporated some of your suggestions. Thanks so much for the valuable information on this site it is really great!

  • HI Will – Thanks for sharing your experiment – always great to see the results others are getting through testing!

    $0.03/like is cheap, but you’re right – they don’t seem like the highest quality audience, which is the most important thing. I’m happy to pay a little more if I know that the likes are my exact target audience (or close to it)

    I’ve managed to get super relevant likes down to $0.09 (from Australia, USA & the UK) for my blog and now i’m testing a few different images & headlines to see if I can get them down further! I know a few bloggers who are getting $0.02-$0.03 targeted likes (In the US) so there is still plenty of room to improve (their tips to me: the image is 80% of it)

    Keep up the experiments!

    • Hey Alex! Great to know that you’ve had success with it and you’re totally right the image is almost everything. I always suggest A/B testing images and having the full 6 slots with different variations to see which one resonates with your audience.

      One thing I’ve been pondering about is just how important these likes are though. With how things have played out this year, I’m finding FB traffic to be less and less useful and important but that could just be me?

      • Thats the million dollar question right?!

        I think its a different answer for each person – I’ve heard lots of people talking about how Facebook organic reach is dying, however I’m relatively new to Facebook marketing and am still building my audience so I don/t have any observations as of yet.

        I do follow John Loomer quite a bit and he seems to think while reach is going down, you will not be affected if your posts are quality – great article about it here:

  • This is such an interesting post. Facebook ads are so much more complex than we realize, so it’s great that you’re sharing your experiments. I’m currently researching doing lookalike audience ads, can’t quite figure out how to do it.

    • Hey Carol! It’s definitely a whole other beast. I’ve experimented with creating my own audiences and trying to optimize but haven’t had a whole lot of success. You could drop pixels on your own blog to try to re-target as another method. Lookalike wise, I believe there’s the ability to upload all of your e-mail subscribers and finding audiences through there.

    • Yeah it was definitely an interesting one to try since I didn’t know too much about it. Facebook Ads have its uses, you just have to know where to use it and when.

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