James Bachini

Big Brands Screwed By Facebook Because Of ViralNova

We were sold on spending huge budgets to gain Facebook page likes with the promise of being able to publish content to those fans for free. Facebook has now done a U-turn and is saying that in future only 1-2% of your Facebook fans will see organic content and that you will need to pay again to get your content in front of those fans on each post.


Basically because Zuckerberg has thrown his toys out of the pram once again and wants minimal ad content on Facebook. Companies such as ViralNova have been abusing the system by collecting up lots of fans and ramming content down their throats to push traffic to their sites.

I first wrote about Viral Nova back in January: http://www.jamesbachini.com/a-lesson-in-writing-headlines/

While I did appreciate the excellent marketing of their headlines and click bait system I didn’t fully appreciate what a well oiled traffic generation system they had running. Fast forward five months and now every affiliate who can put together some HTML is jumping on the band waggon because of this post which outlines their business practice in a more complete way:


Well I thought I’d share some of my past experiences and explain why I think this isn’t as feasible as it was back in 2013.

Budget: £10,000 GBP

Cost per Like = £0.30

Perhaps I was doing something wrong. I certainly didn’t have anything go viral but out of about 10 ad campaigns and £200 spend the cheapest I could get our CPLike down to was £0.30 using current affairs. You can buy like packages from 3rd parties for a lot less but I believe this would do more harm than good because you are going to have those click bots in your audience for ever more when you continue paid marketing to them. For this to work I feel you have to have a very targeted audience and Facebook to be fair does have this great targeting power with their ad system.

That’s going to get you 3333 Likes to your Facebook page. A good seed audience.

Organic “Reach” = currently 10%

i.e. if you post something now only 10% of your audience will see it.

Organic CTR = 1% if you’re lucky.

That means for every £10k you spend you have a real audience of just 33 users who’ll engage with each post. Say you do two post a day for a year that’s 24k users to your page.

Revenue approx: £5 / CPM from adsense (remember these people just want to see/read your viral content and aren’t interested in what you are selling)

Total revenue: £120 GBP

So how is ViralNova making money? They are reliant on people sharing the posts and viral content creating an exponential audience. I would assume shared posts have better reach with Facebooks new algorithm than standard posts.

Viral Nova post


But what does this mean for CocaCola? They spent billions aquiring their Facebook fans and building out their pages and Facebook has just screwed them royally along with every other big brand advertiser that jumped on the band waggon of building Facebooks likes which are now relatively worthless.

Facebook has actually published a document suggesting that organic reach is going to continue to drop off and everyone should now pay to promote their posts. So what was the point of getting all those likes?

Facebooks answer to this is that it will make future advertising more effective. REALLY???

The truth is that Facebook Likes were once a highly valued commodity for any company or marketer but now they are slowly becoming more and more worthless.

Scott DeLong founder of ViralNova knows this which is why he’s trying to sell off his cash cow fast before the rot starts to set in.

Is there still an opportunity to make money on Facebook?

Of course the platform is changing but they are still a public company and need to ad value for advertisers so there will always be room for affiliate marketers to make money.

  • Cheaper likes – The real issue facebook ignores is that I can stick a like button for my “fluffy puppy” facebook page anywhere. If you have a lot of free or cheap traffic why not add a like button somewhere on your site/page under a picture designed to stir emotions for your userbase and build up a free facebook audience.
  • “Joe Blogs likes x” – With an audience you can run ads to their friends with a strong social signal that their friend already likes this product. It’ll be paid advertising but that’s still a powerful psychological concept we can use.
  • Viral content – There’s an art to it, if you can get people to share and like pictures of dogs doing stupid shit, or amazing doctor saved a baby stories then you are golden. It’s a bit like winning the lottery though to have something really take off.

For non-affiliates though, general day to day bricks and mortar businesses Facebook is bad value as an advertising platform. Big brands, perhaps but Steve’s Fridge Repairs would still be better off spending his money on Google Adwords.

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James Bachini

Disclaimer: Not a financial advisor, not financial advice. The content I create is to document my journey and for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not under any circumstances investment advice. I am not an investment or trading professional and am learning myself while still making plenty of mistakes along the way. Any code published is experimental and not production ready to be used for financial transactions. Do your own research and do not play with funds you do not want to lose.