Deep Dive #1: Should You Ever Buy Page Likes?
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Facebook Page owners often want to know whether it is ever a good idea to buy likes for their Facebook page. The conventional wisdom is that it is never a good idea to buy page likes. We disagree. This is an overly simplistic analysis, and we think that this question is best answered on a case by case basis.

In this first ever Deep Dive, we delve into this issue and explain in what situations it makes sense to pay to promote your page — and when you should allocate your ad dollars elsewhere.

I. Conceptualizing the value of page likes

The key to deciding whether you ought to buy likes for your page is understanding the value of a page like to your business.

Let’s first focus on tangible benefits you can measure. When it comes to page likes, we should measure their value by how much of your Facebook audience (the people who like your page) clicks through to your site when you post on your page.

For example, imagine you have a Facebook page with 1,000 likes. If you post a link to your site on that page, and 10 people click through to your site, that represents a 1% click through rate. In practice you should average this across a number of posts, as measuring a single post may not give you representative data. But with organic reach around 5% or so, these numbers wouldn’t be unusual.

Now if you paid 10 cents for each Facebook like, then 1,000 likes would cost you $100. With a 1% click through rate on a post, you would essentially be paying $100 for 10 clicks — or a $10 cost per click.

Now this is obviously a much higher CPC than most of us would want to pay. But we are forgetting a key variable in our calculations, which is how many posts each of your page fans are going to see. If we imagine each of our fans are going to be exposed to, say, 10 of our posts over time, then we ought to divide that CPC number by 10 which gives us a more reasonable $1 cost per click.

With this sort of calculation in mind, it’s clear that the conventional wisdom — never buy page likes — is deeply flawed. What we need is a framework for calculating whether the value of a page like outweighs the cost. Let’s sketch a way to do this.

II. How to calculate whether a page like is worth the cost

I’m going to use real campaign data to show you exactly how to calculate the value of a page like.

Let’s start with the basics: how much are we spending to get a page like? To do this I just click over to Ads Manager and look at my campaign.

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Over the past 30 days, I’m seeing costs of $0.05 per like (if you’re wondering how to get costs low… that’s the subject of another post and a course, but suffice to say it involves testing, testing, and more testing).

The page was created less than 30 days ago, so the 1,594 likes my ads have generated are the total number of paid likes I have created for this page. The page was 1,606 likes total, so my paid likes represent 99.2% of total likes — this number will be important later.

Next I’m going to export my page insights data, specifically data for posts. Really all I care about here is the number of posts I have created, which in this case is 29 over the lifetime of the page. 27 of these posts have linked directly to my website.

Now I’m going to head over to Google Analytics and figure out how many unique users have visited my website from posts on my page. You can create UTM codes for your post to distinguish between paid ads and organic posts, but in this case I haven’t run paid ads for this website so I know all traffic from Facebook is organic and generated from my posts.

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According to Google Analytics, 519 unique users have visited the website via Facebook since I created the page.My paid likes account for 99% of my total likes, so it’s really only fair to attribute 513 unique users to these paid ads. Not much of a factor in my case, but at greater volumes this may become relevant.

So we can now say that for every like I buy, I will get 0.32 unique users to my site. Divide the cost per like by that number and we get a cost per unique user (a decent approximation of cost per click) of $0.15.

It’s important to note at this point that I’m not selling anything on this website, it’s a media property. But if I were, I would then want to calculate (using Google Analytics Goals) how many of these people end up making a purchase and how much they spend. I would then be able to say definitively whether a page like was worth the cost or not.

Let’s imagine 1% of visitors make an average purchase of $10. The average value of a visitor is then $0.10 — meaning that a page like is not worth the cost (at least immediately). But if 1% of visitors make an average purchase of $25, the average value of a visitor is $0.25, making a page like a worthwhile investment.

Now we can see how the answer to the question of whether you ought to buy likes depends on your situation and business model.

III. Factors to consider beyond your control

There are other factors to consider when buying likes that we cannot account for in this relatively simple calculation.

Facebook may change their algorithm. This is always a risk with Facebook — they might change the algorithm one day. Right now 5% of your page fans might see your organic posts. Tomorrow this might drop to 1%, which will seriously impact the ability of your page to drive traffic. This is why we advocate getting your page likes onto an email list that you own ASAP. But it doesn’t mean that buying Facebook likes right now cannot be profitable. The calculations in this article apply regardless of what Facebook’s algorithm is putting in people’s feeds.

Straight up advertising may work better. Different types of advertising may work better than promoting your page. If it’s cheaper for you to run Facebook ads that send people directly to your sales page rather than promoting your page and then reaching them organically, then by all means run direct ads. If you already have significant website traffic, retargeting ads to your website visitors will probably be cheaper than buying likes and then getting them to visit your site. Again, it depends on your situation.

Large Facebook pages offer credibility. There is value in having brand credibility, and like it or not part of this is having a large Facebook page. Who are you going to trust more? The company with 10,000 page likes or 10? There is an intangible value to having a large number of page likes for many businesses, and you should keep this in mind.

Your Facebook fans will become less active over time. Many of your Facebook fans will lose interest in your offerings and become less active over time. This means their value immediately after they like your page will be higher than their value a year later. This is why it’s important to run these calculations every few months to determine whether your numbers are holding up.

Your clicks / post may increase over time. Your Facebook fans are likely to see more posts the longer they are fans of your page. In my case, I have posted 27 links to my site and seen an average of 19 unique visitors to my site per post. But as the size of my page increases, this should (in theory) increase. Some of this increase will be a result of older fans seeing multiple posts and finally clicking through.

IV. Don’t Become Dependent On Your Facebook Page

One warning to hammer home: don’t become dependent on your Facebook page, because you never know when Facebook is going to change their algorithm in a way that will nuke your organic reach. A lot of businesses have been destroyed because they failed to turn their non-owned audience (their Facebook page fans) into an owned audience (an email / customer list).

Your ultimate goal should be to turn your Facebook fans into email signups and customers. While it may make sense to establish first contact with them by having them like your page, it never makes sense to keep them at this level of engagement.

The basic strategy is to get them off your Facebook page and onto your email list for as little money as possible.

V. Wrapping Up

Like most conventional wisdom, the command to never buy page likes on Facebook is too simplistic. Everybody’s costs are different, everybody’s business model is different, and therefore the effectiveness of buying likes is going to be different for everybody.

This article equips you with a simple framework to estimate the cost and value of a page like. With these numbers, you’ll be able to make an intelligent decision for yourself as to whether you should buy likes.

As always, it’s better to ignore the gurus and rely on the numbers.  


This is a free preview of a Members-Only Deep Dive. If you want a new Deep Dive every week, plus access to all our courses and content, sign up here to become a member for less than $1 per day.

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