Creating and Promoting a Facebook Page

fbvisitors
There are currently over 400 million active users on Facebook, which is somewhat insane. Last month Facebook became my 4th largest traffic source (admittedly it is ‘currently’ quite away behind the top 3). Before reading on I suggest becoming a fan here so you can see what I’m writing about.

I’ve always been a huge fan of building lists and subscribers to my various sites, it removes some of the reliance on search engines and gives you a bit more stability. Using my site coolest gadgets as an example we currently have around ~69K RSS and 10K email subscribers. When speaking to people outside of the industry, only a small percentage know what RSS actually is never mind using it, however even my technophobic father has heard of Facebook, so around 9 months ago I started looking at building a list on Facebook.

Creating a FaceBook Page
Make sure you’re logged into Facebook, go here, click “Create Page” and follow then follow the simple wizard. You’ll need to create a logo, add links in to your site and write a simple description but nothing too challenging. Next up we need to populate your page, you can either make daily posts yourself, pay somebody to do it or if your site has an RSS feed you can automate.

I’m currently using RSS Graffitti (thank you Zath, Clarke and Keith for the recommendation). This will automatically post a thumbnail and excerpt on your pages wall whenever a new post is published on your site. This will then link to the relevent page on your site, like so
graffitti example
You now have a fully automated page and source of traffic on one of the most popular sites on the web, cool.

Promoting Your Fan Page
The first thing you need to do is get 25 fans so that you can claim your vanity URL, I’d suggest manually mailing friends to become a fan, explaining why and personalise your messages a bit. Once you have 25 fans head here and claim a more human friendly URL for your fan page.

I’ve tried a few different methods promoting Coolest Gadgets fan page, the following graph shows how it’s grown since inception
allfans

fbwidget
1 – Did a blog post saying we are now on Facebook
2 – LG kindly donated a LCD TV as a competition prize, to enter the contest readers had to become a fan or tweet about it (hence promoting the competition more).
3 – Did another blog post about the contest, this time keeping it really simple: Fan on Facebook? Then Stand A Chance to Win 42″ LG LCD TV
4 – We announced the winner
5 – The site was redesigned with much more prominence on becoming a facebook fan, including a banner advertising the page and a widget showing current fans (see right).

If you have the funds you can also promote the page using Facebook ads, as you can target based on peoples interests this can be highly effective.

My aim is to build the fan base up to 6,000+ by Christmas and promote various offers and discounts when available. If you’re not a fan (or friend) yet feel free to add me.

If you don’t have a fan page yet I’d suggest investing an hour of your time and creating yourself a new traffic source, let us know if you do and we’ll link them from here.

Amazon rocks for conversions

Not exactly news to anyone and I remember speaking to Al about this when we first met but at the time I didn’t have any product based sites and had not used Amazon for some time, however with PC’s I decided to add some amazon banners/widegets and boy do they convert traffic!

OK so I am not selling high ticket value items just yet but I am working on it, PCs is just getting around 150-200 visitors per day which is fine it’s early days, I removed adsense as it’s pretty worthless at the minute and last week added Amazon so after around 8 days the screenshot on the left shows how it’s going.

116 clicks and 34 items ordered, it’s obvious from the stats some people have ordered 3 items etc so not 34 orders but 34 items, even still it’s a true testiment to what they do with your traffic when you send it across. Another plus is that it opens in a new window.

Like I said I’m probably preaching to the converted, however if your getting a few hundered visitors per day and your still using Adsense I’d recommend swapping that over if your product based in any way and getting some contextual or widgets on instead. When I logged in this morning I found out I sold 11 items yesterday most of which are still low value so I changed the main widget from showing pc games to actual desktops, laptops and netbooks to see if I could pick up higher value items, will be interesting to see how it goes and it’s a lot more fun than getting clicks for pennies.

A Stumbling Improvement

I’m quite a fan of StumbleUpon as it has sent me a consistent trickle (100 or so per day) of traffic over the years. A few weeks ago I came across a plugin that I thought might help:
Increase Sociability WordPress Plugin

Basically what happens is it checks the refer (what page the visitor is coming from) and if it matches either Digg.com or StumbleUpon.com then it will simply welcome the user and ask them to give you a positive vote if they like the page.

.

Along with using the plugin I also thought it would help if I hid any prominent Adsense ads from these visitors (social traffic is more likely to be pissed at adverts than click them). To do this the code is pretty simple (expecially when copied from the fore mentioned plugin):

if($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'] != '')
{
$URL = parse_url($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER']);
if ($URL['host'] == "www.stumbleupon.com" || $URL['host'] == "buzz.stumbleupon.com" || $URL['host'] == "digg.com" || $URL['host'] == "www.digg.com")
{
$noadsense = 1; // Check this variable before displaying ads
}
}

So far the results have been pretty good. Three different stories created nice peaks in traffic. The two most popular being:

The fact that Stumblers like knuckle dusters and knifes probably means Stumblers are best not messed with :) .

Increasing Daily Email Subscribers by 500%

Over the last couple of months I’ve been experimenting with a few ideas to improve my social traffic and garner more email subscribers. In this post I’m going to share some of what I’ve been doing, which techniques have been successful and which not so. All these tests were done on CG.

I updated the theme recently and at the end of each post I added the following menu bar:
post footer
This included 2 new features, Email to a friend and a social Share.

Email to a friend

This option lets readers email specific posts and pages to their friends, hopefully enticing them to the site. I used the plugin Wp-Email for this, the ongoing results are pretty nice for the small amount of work and screen real estate involved.
We are now averaging around 30 emails a day not a vast amount but some will become regular readers and will certainly add up over time. Originally we only displayed the link on individual post pages, we now display the footer links on the index and category pages which accounts for the increase around the day 61 mark.

Social Share (share)

We use the Add This service to give our readers an easy way to share posts on their favourite social network. Results from this have been disappointing with daily highs of 7 uses but again it doesn’t take up much space so will be staying until I think of a better use for the space

Increasing Email Subscribers

One of my ambitions for the year is to create an email list of 10K+ subscribers, a goal of which I am way way off target from at the moment. The following graph shows how many new subscribers we are gaining on a daily basis:

There are two points on the graph where you can see you can see an increase on average new subscribers, these are caused by the following:

  • {1} – Added an email subscribe form near the top of the home page
  • {2} – This is a something I hadn’t seen before but makes sense. Visitors that scroll down to the end of the home or category pages are interested in the site, therefore more chance of becoming a subscriber if they see an option, so we display the following at the end of the home page and all category pages, it also displayed at the top (and bottom) of all subsequent pages (i.e. page 2 and after).
  • Previous we were gaining under 5 new subscribers per day, now we average over 20. If we’d done this from day one we’d be nearer on target for 10K subscribers by the end of the year, as we didn’t we’ll need to think of other ways to improve it (ideas very very welcome).

    The next experimental case study I want to share resulted in an extra 20K+ visitors in a couple of days, I’ll leave that for my next post, if interested please subscribe to Self Made Minds by Email or our RSS feed.

How to expand your blog without more blogging


Nearly 10 ways to extend your site

Struggling to think of a suitable image

When I started this post it was primarily aimed at blogs but it’s relevant to pretty much any site. Here are a few ideas on ways to extend a site in a different direction by adding new features. For the following features many are available as scripts (both paid and free), or alternatively can be coded. By adding new sections it gives you more content (almost always a good thing) and opens up a whole new attraction for existing and potential visitors.
Continue Reading

Attracting RSS and Email Subscribers

email.jpg
Writing my task list the night before has increased my productivity, one of the things I wanted to do for a while was add an email subscription option to both here and CG. That was added to my list last night and done today, so if you want to receive a daily email from us containing the day’s post(s) simply fill in the form on the right hand side.

One thing I thought that would be interesting is to learn how our readers prefer to follow sites. So if you can spare 5 seconds please give us your vote here (email and RSS subscribers will have to visit the site).

How do you follow sites that you read regularly.
  • Add an Answer
View Results

Continue Reading

New Blog Plug-In Check List

plug1.jpg

First off thanks to everybody that gave us feedback with our setting up a new blog check list, I’ve updated the list with your suggestions (and link credited accordingly). Following on from that I’m going to a check list of plugins that the majority of new blogs will benefit from. Again if you have any suggestions let us know via the comments and I’ll update the list as appropriate.
Continue Reading

Check List for Setting Up a New Blog

checklist2.jpg

One of the areas I intend to expand this year is my blog network, at the moment I have 5 or so blogs that all look and function pretty differently. What I intend to do is put some procedures in place to help me expand the network consistently and relatively quickly. Scott has already achieved one of his goals of 2008 so I need to get moving on some of mine :) .

Recently I received an email from Caroline Middlebrook promoting her free guide on creating mini sites with WordPress, I’m not looking at creating mini sites here but there is some good tips there none the less, especially for people that are new to WP. Any way onto my check list:

Continue Reading

Trialling a Feed Advert

big-feed.jpg

I’m after a bit of feedback on this idea, so all thoughts and suggestions are very welcome (and there’ll be a bonus for commenting).

I’m trying to get more visitors to my site from my feed, so I spent an hour over the weekend creating a plug-in for WordPress that lets me display an extra sentence or so at the end of each post but only in the feed and not on the site. I intend to put an advertising link back to the main site where I can push visitors to affiliate pages with relevant offers.

If you want to see it in action subscribe to the SMM or CG feed.

After creating the plug-in it got me thinking how it could be used in a few different ways:

Continue Reading

Taking Your Site Mobile

Mobile Browsing
I travel a fair bit on both business and pleasure and when away I become totally reliant on my mobile phone, I don’t use it so much for calls but I do use it extensively for checking email, news (mainly football results), my sites and making the odd blog post.

I use the mobile version of GMail as my mail client, they do have a Java version especially for mobiles but I find their mobile enhanced web version works a treat especially since it’s been improved so that you can perform the same action on multiple messages via check boxes. As I do so much browsing on my mobile I think it makes perfect sense to include a mobile version of some of my sites (the fact that Adsense for mobiles is now live also helped kick me into action).
Continue Reading