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5 Ways I’m Using Facebook to Drive Traffic, Build Brand and Increase Reader Engagement

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of July 2010 Featured Posts, Social Media 0 Comments

I was always a doubter when it came to using Facebook to promote a blog. I’m not sure why – but despite my best efforts I couldn’t seem to get Facebook to ‘work’ as well as I could with Twitter when it came to engaging readers, driving traffic and building community.

However in the last few months things have changed – Facebook has become HOT for me, at on my photography blog.

I’m pretty sure it’s more about how I’m using Facebook than any particular change at Facebook but I’ve started to see it become a lot more useful in a few ways including driving traffic (see chart below), increasing reader engagement and building brand. Here’s the traffic from facebook over the last 13 months (click to enlarge):

facebook-traffic-dps.png

There were always a few days of spiked traffic (usually when we did a post that went a little viral) but the last 6 or so weeks we’ve seen a nice up swing in traffic).

All the action happens on the Digital Photography School Facebook page where the bulk of what happens is simply us pulling in new posts from the blog as status updates using the ‘Networked Blogs’ application – however in the last few months we’ve also started to try a little more reader engagement. Here’s what’s worked:

1. We Ask Questions

The best thing that we do (and I have my forum administrator help with dPS facebook page so it literally is a ‘we’) is simply asking questions of those who ‘like’ us on Facebook. Every day or two we pose a simple question that asks readers either for

  • their opinion on some aspect of photography
  • to share an experience that they’ve had
  • to tell us something about the photography gear that they use
  • to do something fun

These simple questions go crazy. Some examples include:

Interestingly when we ask the same questions on Twitter (where we have 1000 more followers than we have ‘likes’ on Facebook) we only get 10 or so answers to our questions where on Facebook we get hundreds (we’ve had as many as 700). The fact that Facebook allows our followers to see each others responses and that it’s less fleeting than Twitter is an advantage for this type of thing.

2. Promoted ‘Hot Facebook Status Updates”

When we have one of these question status updates/discussion going on Facebook we try to get more traffic to it from other sources. This largely happens in two ways:

  • Weekly Newsletter – in our weekly email newsletter we’ve been linking to one facebook discussion a week as a ‘hot on facebook’ link.
  • Twitter – because the ‘conversational aspect of facebook’ is so great I’ve started to tweet when there’s a good discussion going. It might seem odd to promote one social media account on another but it’s led to significant increases in interaction.

The benefit of highlighting what’s going on on our Facebook page has been two fold – firstly it boosts the numbers of responses to the questions we ask significantly.

Secondly it’s led to a big increase in the number of people who ‘like’ our pages. We’ve gone from several thousand connections on our facebook page to over 27,000 in a couple of months.

3. Reader Involvement in Shaping the Site

Every Friday morning as I’m scheduling posts on the blog for the weekend I ask the same question on Facebook. The question asks readers to suggest a theme for our weekend photography challenge (something we run each week on the blog where we name a theme and everyone goes away and takes a picture to come back and share relating to the theme).

We get a lot of great suggestions in this weekly thread of conversation and the added bonus is that it builds a little anticipation for the challenge itself.

Another thing I did last week was create a survey for our facebook friends that asked them some questions about the content that they’d like to see on dPS. Over 600 people took the survey from facebook giving us some amazing insights into topics for future posts.

4. Promotions

We recently launched a Travel Photography eBook on dPS and saw some really positive response from our promotional efforts on Facebook. I’ve never seen much success with ‘selling’ on Facebook before but this time around we built some pre-launch buzz on the facebook page and released it to our facebook community before anyone else.

Our best conversions did come from email promotion but Facebook was probably our 2nd most effective place of promotion this time around. We did some status updates about it but also sent direct messages to all of those who have ‘liked’ our page.

5. Landing Page

This is very new – but I’ve recently added a ‘welcome’ landing tab for those arriving on our page who have not been there before and ‘liked’ it (I’ve also added it to the ProBlogger Facebook Page).

Screen shot 2010-06-30 at 12.15.39 PM.png

The idea here is to create a tab (using the FBML application) which is a customized greeting page for new people to your page. The page directs people to the ‘like’ button and sells benefits of making the connection. Next time they arrive on the page they are taken to the ‘wall’ tab and don’t see the welcome (Facebook allow you to set this up in the ‘page’ settings.

It’s too soon to tell what impact it is having but in talking to a few other web publishers this has seen significant increases in connections.

I’ve also seen others add other things in such a page including welcome videos, email newsletter subscription forms and other things that help them achieve some kind of ‘conversion’. The FBML application lets you add pretty much any html to the tab. I’ve so far just used an image file but hope to convert it to live html with links in it in the coming weeks.

Update: due to many people asking for more information on how I created my landing pages – I’ve just written an update of this post looking at how to create a facebook landing page for your blog.

What are You Doing that is Working on Facebook?

I feel like I’m still finding my way with the use of Facebook and am still experimenting with different aspects of it. We have a ‘tab’ for our eBooks which I’m not sure is overly effective, I want to find a way to get our readers sharing photos better and I’m sure I could be promoting our newsletter better – but it’s one of those things where I find experimenting with one thing at a time is best.

What are you doing with facebook that is working (or that isn’t)?

PS: I’m pretty sure that facebook is not a site that will work for every topic. For example on the ProBlogger facebook page we’ve not seen the same sorts of results – for ProBlogger Twitter seems better. I’ve heard from a few other bloggers mixed results including some amazing stories of increases in traffic.

Also worth noting is that earlier this year I made a significant change in the way that I used Facebook when I defriended around 4800 friends and made my personal facebook profile purely for personal friends and family and concentrated all of my facebook efforts on creating ‘fan pages’/’pages’ for each of my blogs. This was the best thing I’ve done on facebook and released me to develop the pages and use my personal account to build friendships and connections with real life friends.

Update: I’ve just written an update of this post looking at how to create a facebook landing page for your blog.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. i agree that asking questions on facebook is important for promoting your blog and driving in some traffic. Anyway, I will use these tips as a reference

  2. thanks for sharing. I’m a huge fan of DPS. I follow you on twitter and I’m a facebook fan. These are great tips for any blog or business. My problem is that I need more fans. Any recommendations would help!

  3. I recently started a new blog and checked my stats shortly thereafter. Where do you think I got the greatest number of visitors – you guessed it – Facebook! I am convinced.

  4. i think those tipps are very valuable, i just started promoting stuff via facebook and im very pleased with the results. Thanks for the usefull tipps.

  5. I was going to create a facebook fan page, but then I realized I’m my own biggest fan.

    Kidding, great advice which I look forward to implementing.
    -John

  6. Getting ready to build by Facebook page now.

  7. It’s important to note that at the core of most of your steps was audience engagement. By asking questions, hosting promotions, and including readers in shaping the site you peeked their interest. I love how you ask your the same question every week, and I think the consistency of a weekly question will keep readers engaged and participating!

  8. Yes Awesome post: My lack of friends on facebook is my downfall , I even saw on freelancer you can buy friends how funny is that. My facebook page is a missery – Ill stick to twitter for my social media.

  9. Having read this. I will be trying to find ways to make facebook to work to my advantage as well keeping in mind the things you said. If it worked for you maybe it would also for us. Thank you for these hints. Nice Post!

  10. I know someone else who was dyehard Twitter guy, and he recently said lately the action was better on Facebook. Might be a trend.

  11. Lately I’ve noticed that my blog is getting lots of attention for Twitter and Facebook. I’m with you, Darren, I never cared about Facebook before but now realize that more and more traffic is coming in from both these popular social media sites. It just started to happen about a month ago. Interesting, but I not knocking it!

    Keep up the great work!

  12. How I envy you sir. I’m sure all you the techniques that you used works whether @ Social Network sites such as Facebook or Twitter. I think it all back to contents. For me – “Content Is Still The King”. It improves your rating and gaining more respect from other blogger. Eventually it creates branding. In your case, your blog is definitely a well known brand with followers everywhere wish to linking to your blog, follow you in your twitter, etc. Nonetheless, still a great article to read. Will be useful to me once I attain your status… I hope. :D

  13. i think the facebook has its own branding ways and to traffic building is more like to be like spamming some times.

  14. Boy do I not use mine enough…and I thought I was. Some ripsnorter tips here Darren and I’ve clearly got work to do. My appreciation for the insight.

  15. Facebook has really helped me to network and communicate with some pretty famous people that I would have never though possible.

    For instance, I have talked to some of the biggest so-called “guru’s” in marketing because of Facebook. I actually got a call from one of them after seeing a comment I made on his blog!

  16. Nice post Darren and I have been using facebook as a tool to drive people to my online portals. By doing as you also do, by creating a conversation it makes them feel important and they love to share views.. this in the long run makes them hooked..

  17. Great ideas here. I had not considered the question route but will try that right away on facebook. My fan page is not doing well at all, though my personal page seems to encourage responses often. Nice!

  18. Thanks for the post. I use facebook to market my website. I just created a blog as well and want to use facebook marketing to help get visitors. Making money blogging seems hard. I’m just going to have fun with it and see where it goes! Cheers!

  19. Wow what a briliant idea, using fb to drive traffic…thanks

  20. I have created FB account for nearly a year. I know that FB can be very good tool to drive visitor to my site. however, up to now the result is not really good at all. let me check out some tips that you mentions.
    thanks!

  21. We have set up a fan page for our wedding photography site which is working ok. I think facebook is more for specialty niches including photography that we are in. We get spammed daily from MLM sites and internet marketing programs that i think are a complete waste of time. People always talk about these Gurus online that make millions. I think the majority of them are all full of S— personally. I enjoy reading the posts in pro-blogger which has helped us a great deal thanks.

  22. Darren

    I agree with you on the uptick in recent months of blog visits coming from Facebook.

    I saw real spikes especially when I do interviews and both the person I interviewed and in case they have a book out, their publisher, share the piece on their own pages.

    People using the ‘like’ button is another plus.

    I also try to add to my Facebook eco system as i write stories. If it is on Chocolate for example finding sites that are chocolate centered and sharing my story there.

    Will ask you for a vote on Panel Picker for my SXSW 2011 topic “”Six Years Blogging, Lust, Love, Seven Year Itch” next week.

    Take care

    Serge
    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’

    Facebook: sergetheconcierge

  23. One mistake that a lot of people make when they use a social media site, be it Twitter or Facebook, is that they start spamming.

    I think you should take interest in other people in terms of what they say and what they share if you want them to take interest in what you say and what you share. After all, this is what networking is all about. It may be time consuming, but it’s well worth the effort.

  24. Good post with a lot of good ideas. I have not used facebook yet but after reading your post I can’t wait to try it out.

  25. Hi Darren,

    I always used to promote my blog using Facebook. I am already inspired with your points. I was not getting more visitor from facebook. But, from now I will try more harder.

    Thank you very much for your awesome and unique tips.

    -Anup

  26. I’m with Jill on this one! Maybe you can make a post to help us walk through how to do this? I have done it before, but am going no where with it. ;)

  27. I think that Facebook and the others of the most prominent social networking sites have revolutionized blogging and internet marketing in general because what they’ve accomplished is really instilling “life” into a medium that used to be just about buying and selling.

    It’s still is about that of course, except that it’s peronal now… for the buying and selling to occur now, that social activity is practically required.

  28. Mine is a food blog, and I’ve seen that people get really excited when I post a photo of something baking or ask a simple question like what do you prefer – cinnamon or vanilla? It’s such a quick, simple way to interact with my readers and in my opinion, a lot more fun than in the comment sections because that’s usually something that bound to the topic of the post.

    However, on the contrary, I’ve seen a brand that’s really updating facebook too much, that it gets annoying. For example, the say “Photos of new products will be up in 5 mins”. When I first “liked” the page, I thought it was really cool and that I’ll know about the products sooner than it hits the stores, but these guys kept doing this almost everyday that it really lost its charm. Now I really don’t care if they have a new product coming up in a day or a week..

  29. Darren, Using facebook to drive traffic maybe is the future of internet marketing, we need to be careful to do it correctly because we can waste also a lot of time if we engage in non productive conversations.

  30. see this works for you ’cause your well known and famous and such. but for little small name bloggers like me who… really dun exist… this does shit for us.

  31. This is an awesome post. I am going to try some of the tips here to get traffic from facebook. I used facebook to drive traffic but yet to see got good results.

  32. Great tips and suggestions by Darren & all responders. Can’t wait 2 try out few of them soon.

    I think essentially with FB, it needs to be interactive. As ppl who tends 2 ‘loiter’ on FB r more willing 2 share their views n befriend others. It’s just a super dynamic network 2 tap into.

    http://www.quickcashconceptbonus.org/

  33. Facebook is good to drive traffic if only you got a strong base member and fans.

  34. I have a suggestion for your DPS facebook landing page:

    Why not add to it a picture, that shows a great photo that you did? I am sure it would increase the “Conversion rate” for the people who press like.

  35. I will try to incorporate this information. I have been using Facebook for about 6 months now without much success.

  36. Great post Darren. Facebook has been a bit of a mystery to me. Obviously you just have to get in there and try some things. Your information is awesome.

  37. Having a new website and Facebook page, I’m trying the approach of keeping the page to a minimum and just posting links when a new post is written. As I gain readers and followers I may change this to gain more participation for http://www.themodernguy.com

  38. Hi darren

    I really appreciate your sharing good tips but already I tried lots of thing on my facebook page.Image matters a lot.Your great image and trust in people making your facebook page successful.

    Thanks For Sharing Your Great Views
    Abhishek

  39. I’m still having trouble figuring out how to use facebook. Thanks for your info. I’ll have to keep working on it!

  40. I started my blog on a month and a half ago and have been horribly disappointed with only having two followers. I had linked my blog to people on facebook and had a few people comment about reading it but no one subscribed and only one person commented on the blog itself.

    Yesterday I created a Fan Page and used the NetworkedBlogs to link my blog to it and now I have more people Liking it. A lot of people don’t want to deal with RSS and feeds and everything similar so letting them just get a facebook update seems more accessible to them. Still figuring out Twitter, set it up but I have never used it before.

  41. I just try facebook last year ,i dont know it can be done this way,i will adapted this ,

  42. I think I have to make a facebook page too, to increase my traffic.. nice share, thanks..

  43. I think the reason why Facebook does not work as well as Twitter when it comes to engaging readers and building traffic is because Facebook does have a lot of distracting features (the apps, photos, blogs, etc) that members tend to loiter. I think you need to have a strong fan base and a solid marketing strategy to be able to hook your readers.

  44. That is absolutely right that facebook’s use is growing more and more now a days. but I have never tried these tricks ever for my blog. I think it will surely work. Thanks to share this. but isn’t it seems a bit spammy? :P I can also use Twitter but I am still confused for it’s use.

  45. Very thoughtful but I need to try more to do this. Nothing you can do with o push of a button ! :)

  46. Great article on how facebook can help brand your blog and increase readership. I love the landing page. Looking forward to implementing these strategies.

  47. I have lots of contacts on Facebook but never thought to use it to advertise my blog on it until I saw this post. I will try your suggestions and see how it works out for me to drive traffic. Thanks for a great post. Love your blog.

  48. Thanks for the help… I can’t wait to see what happens now!

  49. I started using Facebook and Twitter by incorporating them into WordPress blogs. WordPress is a Fantastic tool just like Facebook and Twitter and utilising the superb array of plugins it is possible to automate the system to update both walls, fan pages and groups.

    By doing this allows one post to appear where the most readers are likely to find it without having to re-post time and time again which can costly on time.

    By linking them all together properly you can gain better rankings within the search engines too.

  50. Darren,
    Its always great to see some insight of someone who is testing, tweaking and finding success using the various social media methods.

    Facebook has been great for me with a number of my websites and my blog, my target market seem to connect well with facebook, even more so than twitter.

    Keep up the awesome work!

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