The Choose Yourself Era – How to Get 100,000 Facebook Fans

I was talking to head of a major media company the other day and he was telling me he was worried some of the writers working for him have too large a following on Twitter or Facebook and so, consequently, are asking for higher salaries. This is the “Choose Yourself” era where everyone becomes a one-man media company now. You can’t trust the corporate world to coddle you, take care of you, give you raises for performance, praise your blogs or ideas, promote you, etc. Even when I published a book with a major media company, as opposed to self-pubish, they were reluctant to tweet about my book because I wasn’t big enough.


The only way you can fight this, whether you are an individual with a blog (and a message), or a small business, or even a big business, is to build your own platform. Build your own methods of getting out your message.

I believe in my message. Everyone has gone through some form of post-traumatic stress this past decade. We’ve spent 100% of the decade in wars. We’ve been hit by a dot-com bust, by 9/11, by corporate corruption on a mass scale, by a housing bust, by government interventions that failed, by a financial crisis – it’s been horrible and everyone of us has been effected, including me. The macro fears have transformed into very personal ones. The stresses have effected our businesses, our marriages, our relationships, our health. I wanted to figure out my way through my own personal disasters. I did and several times weekly I put up blog posts with my thoughts elaborating my message.

I also wanted to get over the fact that countless times major media companies would either accept me or reject me at their own whims. This was not fair to me. This was why I started blogging.

But it takes more than just writing a blog. You have use every social medium out there. So I started an experiment: how could I quickly get 100,000 fans on Facebook for this blog. I want to expand the audience for this message without a media company telling me what I can and cannot do. One way to do this was via self-publishing a book. Another was by doing the Twitter Q&As that I do. Soon I will be starting a radio show. But first, I wanted to expand my Facebook platform.

[See also: “Self-publishing your own book is the new business card”]

For each medium, you have to ask: why this medium? For Facebook the answer is obvious but is so different from prior media that most people don’t think about it. In general, if you want a fan (or a customer) to “Like” you even if he has never heard of you, you are going to have to pay to reach him.

BUT, on Facebook, as opposed to any other medium (other than twitter) you pay ONCE and then forever after you can communicate to that Fan for free. You can’t do that with TV, for instance. Budweiser has to reach the same people each year with another $4mm commercial. But on Facebook, once someone likes your message, then anything you post goes on their newsfeed for at least three hours. More on that in a second.

So here’s what I did. It was a three step process. Here’s my Facebook fan growth in the month that I pursued this.

It basically took about 30 days to get 100,000 fans. Just to experiment, I then tried a slightly smaller approach on my wife’s very popular yoga blog and she went from 0 to 37,000 fans during those few weeks. While there will always be some churn in Fans, it is much smaller than you would think. It’s relatively rare for people to Like and then un-Like.

1)      Many people around the world have no idea who I am (this is hard for me to accept but it’s reality). Even though I get a lot of readers to my blog, these were not the people I necessarily wanted to reach. I wanted to reach new people who didn’t know me.

So I used to set up these tabs on my Facebook fan page. (see below)

This made my fan page not only a source about my own blog (which most of the seven billion people on the planet could care less about) but a source for the top trending stories at any given moment for Innovation, Inspiration, Healthy Lifestyle, and Entrepreneurship – all topics I feel strongly about. Then, even if someone was not interested in me, they could still Like my page and always know they can come back to see these top trending stories in their favorite topics for any moment in time. FanNewsCast could then make ads targeting people interested in these topics. So then I would know that there was a high likelihood these same people would also like posts coming from

Then, FanNewsCast came up with ads that targeted the friends of people who were already connected to my blog but specifically not the people connected to my blog. I made FanNewsCast an admin on my ads and they developed the ads. Essentially, it reached all the friends of friends of my blog, which means they targeted millions of people. The ads would point to the tab pages that included the top trending stories about inspiration, entrepreneurship, etc because they knew people would be interested in these stories.  They also worked with the agency I hired (see #3) to help them update my page three times a day with the best material I have.

Each of those friends of friends would see “XYZ Likes James Altucher’s Blog” in the ad, where XYZ was someone already connected to my blog. This is sort of like dating. If the woman’s friend already approves of you before you even meet the woman, you’ve already overcome a major hurdle. Exact same principle.  These ads were mostly CPC ads.

Using this approach got me to the first 50,000 Fans. Overall, I ended up paying about 7 cents per click (because friends of friends of friends would start seeing their friends like my fan page and so they would then Like it so I was getting, in some cases, greater than 100% returns).

2)      I next used a company called They did several things for me:

– They set up a mobile ad campaign which got me mobile users. The clickthru rates on ads were as high as 90% on some of their ads. It is much more effective to advertise to a mobile user. They also found demographic data differentiating the iPhone users (who clicked through at a much higher rate) and the Android users and were then able to optimize the ads to target them more efficiently (“efficiently” means “cheaper and faster”).

– I wanted to bring down my cost per click even lower. And I was hungry for speed. determines what words in an ad, in general, causes people to click and causes people to “Like”. So they started putting together ad campaigns that used those words. Then they would do a lot of testing: putting the words in the front of the ad, in the back of the ad, linking to specific posts on the page, linking to the whole page, experimenting with different pictures in the ad, etc. They also changed my ads from CPC to CPM to bring cost down since they were specifically optimizing and targeting the type of people who would click on a CPM ad.

Each ad campaign probably had four or five separate factors they were testing  and they would start new campaigns each day. Within hours they would drop the ads with slower and more expensive click-thrus and up the budgets on the ads that were working. In the last few days before I hit 100,000 I was adding 10,000 fans per day probably at a cost of 3 or 4 cents per Like.

– Right now they are doing more geo-targeting so I pick up Fans from specific cities. Like New York City. They have optimized which approaches work best for each city. Targeting a specific city is more expensive but now with my first goal achieved I’m taking my time and experimenting more with what works.

I am fine, in general, with all English speakers. This is in part because I am not selling a product but I believe in my specific message and ideas and I like to get those ideas across to anyone who will listen. Altogether, I’ve probably had less than 1/10 of 1% unlike my page during this process (I wrote at first, “unlike me”. Freudian slip or perhaps too close an identification with my social media persona as opposed to who the real me is).

3)      All of this required a lot of maintenance. I like to focus mostly on writing my blog and I needed help with maintenance on several levels. So I hired to do my daily maintenance and here is what they did:

– Managing the content of the page day to day. For this I need to have someone find the best quotes from all my blogs, put those quotes in an image, and put them out at the ideal times that both FanNewsCast and had concluded were the best times for my page to post to maximize on “Likes” for the image. For example: the below image on the right got a lot of PTAT (‘people talking about this” in Facebook lingo):

[See also “How Kissing Ruined My Life“, the post that image is from]

Why an image as opposed to a link to my blog? One reasons is I want the page itself to be its own channel for me and not just an extension of my blog. The other reasons was that I wanted to improve my “edgerank” score. Facebook tends to favor images, text, links in that order when deciding what to put on a user’s fan page. Links are last because they would prefer people not leave the site. So I wanted to be seen by as many fans as possible so more people would be “talking about” (commenting, liking, or sharing) my “story”. This, in turn, increases my edgerank further. It becomes a virtuous cycle.

A lot of work also involved A/B testing. Was it better to post an image or text? Was it better to have an image with text or a more artistic image? What time of day, etc. They worked closely with FanNewsCast and to figure all of this out. They also then set up an email subscription service for me using Mailchimp. Again, I’m trying to use the Fan page as it’s own channel but to also interlink with all of my other channels. The outcome of posting a signup image on my Facebook fan page for the email service was that I got a quick few thousand signups, mostly from the US. So regardless of where most of my “Fans” were coming from, it was quality users responding to an offer.

(the above image linked to this and proved very successful)

They then would pin all images to my Pinterest boards. They also took the results from my Twitter Q&A posts and would update Quora questions with them. Again, they took every channel and updated it for me. I also use them for technical maintenance on the blog along with the guys from Stocktwits, who host my blog.

Everyone who is saying “Facebook will eventually die just like Myspace” simply doesn’t understand Facebook and how it has already gone so far beyond a tipping point there is no turning back. Facebook is a scrubbed-clean mini-Internet that will soak up large ad budgets that were intended for mainstream traditional media.

With one billion users and growing people say “the growth has matured. It will slow down now.”

(two other posts straight to Facebook that had high engagement)

(See also (the post from the left image above): “25 Ways to Make a Trillion Dollars“)

But examples like mine shows that it won’t.

–          Every company will do a strategy similar to the above to get Fans for their brand

–          Many bloggers will apply the strategies outlined above. Why not? You can do it at your own pace and at your own budget. In fact, if you want to be a part of this “Choose Yourself” era you will have to do it. Similar to the reasons why one should self-publish a book on Amazon, or participate on G+ and twitter and even China’s Weibo (where I have an intern helping me maintain my “presence” and engagement there). Nobody is going to choose you until YOU choose you.

–          Facebook continues to roll out new ways to advertise. Not only for mobile, which is fairly new but now I can promote more individual posts. When you post on your fan page it will hit, on average, 16% of your audience. This has always been the case. But now, with a small budget of $10-$50 you can make sure your post will hit up to 75% of your audience or even more. I had one post exposed to over a million people because of the Shares. Both of the posts in the above image, I separately promoted. This applies for any page with less than 100,000 Fans. Once you hit 100,000 fans there are other techniques but similar budgets.

And I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what I could do with my page. I feel like it’s TV in 1955. The entire world is open to me. What other medium can I potentially target a potential 700 million people (as one of my ads targeted) in an ad with a budget as low as $200. Altogether, my entire ad budget over the last month was about $6000. Then maybe $2000 more for the maintenance and upkeep. The ad budget includes also promoting individual posts, which I didn’t need to do to get more fans but I used to get more engagement. I feel like I’m just now beginning to fly with this fan page.

And, of course, the final outcome:

(click on image to go to page)

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  • Thanks for the “under the hood” info.  One question though, your FB page & blog aren’t selling anything (yet), do you know if the CPC rates are much higher for websites that are commercial, either in a passive or active way? TIA

    • I think initially CPC rates will be the same, simply because you are sharing a message at first , rather than selling a product. Focus on the message (the benefits of your product) first. 

      •  Great, thx, will try it out (with one of my employers FB pages and their expense account first :)

      • Thanks for the advice James, will look into it to see if we can get our message out there. Ray.

  • Impressive story. Lots of new horizons unrolling as well. I completely agree with you that Facebook is much more than just a myspace-like doomed community-keeper.

  • The Greek

    James, thank you so much for this post! I learned a ton of stuff. I’ll try to apply them to our student radio station’s FB page!

    ~ The Greek

  • Iamtheluckiestguy

    James – Can you write one article on “50 ways to make money with facebook fans” and also with Pinterest followers?  I have the material and the knowhow (incl your own article) to get fans and followers, but need ideas on how to make money from them – specifically facebook fans and pinterest followers

  • Great information.  But….reading this made my head spin.

  • I love everything you have to say here, but I’m a little scared to spend the $$. Are there ways to grow a FB page without advertising, or is that naive?

    • Yes there are. Try putting up content which people will like and share. It isn’t necessary that you create it yourself, eg. You can post links to articles related to your business.

      Try to upload pictures of your products and tag people who’d be interested in buying them.
      Best of luck! And read this –> ‘The Secret to Promote Your Business on Facebook (for free)’

    • This is not a long term approach. Long term is this: Deeply understand your brand, your audience. 

  • Well done, but $15,000 for promoting myself on Facebook — sorry, getting someone else to do that for me on Facebook — really? 

    • Well, much cheaper than $15,000. 

      • Mrmetric

        What did you spend on ads per day? Kind of a key metric for your plan. I see the 100k friends number.

    • inventikasolutions

      Hi Douglas,
      you can promote yourself on Facebook, Twitter and 3 other social networks with Branded Social Media pages for much less than $15,000, infact you can do it for $200. Take a look at
      We handle all aspects of creating well designed accounts on popular social media sites and make it easy for you to share your views on these platforms. We give it a visual look which is unique and consistent across all social media sites. Our goal is to put the power of social media in your hands!

  • Thank you James for the tips, so far I’ve been focusing on getting followers by putting up interesting content. In my experience photos always outperform every other kind of updates. I’ve seen some bloggers who put a snapshot of their blog as images on Facebook!

    If you want to promote your business on Facebook, with meaningful customer engagement I believe I can help you. Managing content on a day to day basis can be tough, I can do that for you.
    I design websites and beautiful Facebook fanpages. I can create original content like graphics, tabs, photos (like James did with the quotes) and maintain your page with content related to your business.Here is a guide I created ‘The Secret to Promote Your Business on Facebook’

  • Xcon

    too bad, Facebook is crap

  • What if someone has a fan page to a new social media website and advertises like you? Could it possibly top facebook eventually?

  • oliveremberton

    Have started trying out these suggestions since you posted on TC and they’ve already blown my socks off – thanks!

    Any chance you could share some images of the ads you ran? This might be an article in itself – presumably you have ads that did and didn’t work, and broader themes from that. Good/bad posts might be interesting too.

    Look forward to reading how you earned 1m Likes next!

  • Daniel

    I signed up for the mailing list, but never got the 3 free books. Did anyone else get them?

    • In one of the confirmation emails there should’ve been links to all three. They are downloadable upon clicking. 

      • Daniel

         Nope. I just signed up again to double check. Surprised no one else has said anything. The confirmation email says:

        Confirm Your Subscription

        subscribe me to this list.

        If you received
        this email by mistake, simply delete it. You won’t be subscribed if you
        don’t click the confirmation link above.

        For questions
        about this list, please contact:

        • I’m sure somewhere in the process is was a site with the three links. They are still there and thousands have downloaded the three books. 

        •  Check your spam folder if you use gmail.  One of my confirmation emails went there for some reason.

        •  I got mine, Daniel.  I didn’t follow the link(s) because I had already purchased all three of James’ books for my Kindle.  I signed up anyway for the inspiration I receive from James.  I think you should check your spam folder.

    • The email with links to 3 books comes 1 day after you click ‘yes, subscribe me’.

      This is what you’ll get:Your subscription to our list has been confirmed. You can now download James Altucher’s free books in pdf format: I Was Blind But Now I See, FAQ ME and 40 Alternatives to College. Enjoy! 

      Hope that helps.

    • Redpatcher1

      I did

    • vickispuzzle


  • Obviously a short-term gain judging by the fact that your numbers are now about 12% of what they were at the peak of this campaign. :-)

    • Hmm, those numbers are not what my analytics are showing at all. 

      • That’s what it says on your “Likes” tab.

        • Yeah, I’m not sure where they get that. Certainly my engagements per “story” are up as well as my Facebook referrals to my blog. BUT, once I hit 100k so I started posting less stories to the page so perhaps its related to that. 

          • I guess my point (and I’m sure you’d agree) is that going exclusively for likes is only part of an overall FB strategy.

  • Suzanne Kaplan

    Admittedly, I didn’t read this post thoroughly. I’m at once intrigued and repelled. I want to create the highest quality content and not spend time paying for FB likes. At the same time, I recognize that what you’ve done will drive people to your site. What’s the point of high quality content if no one reads it? Besides this, something else comes up for me, and that’s that I have under 100 posts on my site. So I’m not even sure I provide enough content to keep people coming back. I’d be really interested in getting your feedback on that – if I do do some marketing, shouldn’t I wait until I have more content?

    • 100 quality posts are more than enough. Think about this, if a reader comes to your blog for the first time how many articles will he read? 5, 10? You obviously have enough content as long as you keep them coming.

  • Suzanne Kaplan

    BTW, James, I have had issues with some of your arguments, but I do enjoy your work too. I think your message, “Nobody is going to choose you until YOU choose you” is what it took me 36 years to realize. All of my life I kept waiting for someone (employers) to “snap” me up or for someone big CEO who lives in Princeton (where I live) to discover my talent and say, “hire her.” I’m not arrogant, I just now recognize my talents and realized that I have to figure out a way to put them to use without waiting for someone to tell me what to do.  And I can say this, I have now made amazing connections because I took initiative (and am taking initiative) and from those connections new opportunities have come about.  

  • MarkW99

    Alright James, quick question:

    What is your expected return for all of this effort and expense? What’s the payday? When? Do you hope the radio show will be syndicated and you’ll make millions? I’ll be honest, radio seems like a funny medium and I don’t know if your message(s) will resonate “through the ether” so to speak.

    • I have no conscious expected return. I just hope my ideas get across to more people. 

      • MarkW99

        Getting paid in Karma then?  I’d say you’ve created an interesting brand so far.  Seems fairly unique. Speaking for myself, I’d capitalize on that. 

        FWIW, I’ve had relatives that have flirted with radio and they’ve told me its a vicious business that will eat your soul.  Good luck.

  • Spellingbee

    “has been effected, including m……”
    It’s affected, not effected

  • M Reps

    Interesting and informative as always. I have to disagree about your premise that you have a FB client for life once you get them to “like”you.

    My bookmarks can only hold so many sites reasonably and I think that given another 5 years the data from all the  “likes”coming at me will get filtered and its back to square 1 especially if someone at FB thinks they can get you to pay up for another trip to the front of the line.
    All some software program has to offer FB is a Premium Function to their likes where the algorithms track your time on each piece of data coming through. FB now tells you what you “like”. 

  • Pamclaughton

    This has been interesting to read, but I’m not clear on one thing, what is the goal of gaining all these Facebook fans?  Is it to drive traffic back to your site? or blog? or to sell more copies of your books? All of the above? How many Facebook fans does one need?

    • I think all of the above, plus to treat Facebook as it’s own channel. I don’t sell anything so my primary goal is to have more platforms to get my message out rather than depending on big platforms to “choose me”. 

  • Kat

    I’ve been waiting for this post for weeks, watching your fans grow and thinking what on earth are you doing. Very grateful to you for sharing your strategies James. PS – yesterday I submitted by first Amazon book for editing and it’ll be up in a few weeks. This would never have happened if I hadn’t started reading your blog at the start of this year, after someone shared one of your self publishing posts. Special thanks also to Kamal who inspired me with his book last month and then also wrote to me several times after I left a comment.

    The next one definitely won’t take me 6 months!

  • Suzanne Kaplan

    And after more thinking about this topic, if everyone starts growing FB fans like crazy, eventually it won’t mean much…

    • Thats true. BUT, two things: 
      A) I don’t think everyone will grow FB fans like crazy. 
      B) content is still king. You still always have to have good content. 

  • I liked this a lot: “Nobody is going to choose you until YOU choose you.”I wonder where a lot of us get this “somebody is going to choose me someday” mentality from.Somewhat related to this – I see the same mentality happening in the dating&relationship contexts. A lot of people are shouting inside themselves, “Please pick me! I’m the prize!”, while pretending to be cool, pretty, or attractive, when they can simply choose yourself and choose people who make you curious – and let them know that you like them.You might have read this short story already, but Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is an interesting read. It’s a page long story and you can find it online. If you’ve never read it, I recommend you. It’s a great example of those who wait.

  • It’s great to know how its done. Only problem is that it costs a bomb! I thought you could do it yourself!

    • You can do it yourself. But it’s more important to know that you can CHOOSE yourself. Time is money, so I’d rather delegate the parts where I’m not an expert and instead focus on the content. 

  • Thanks for the tip on FanNewsCast. I hadn’t heard of it. 

    This post was a smorgasbord: I’m going to have to digest some of it and then come back for more. 

  • James, i’ve been a raving fan of yours for almost 2 years but have never commented on your blog. Meeting you and thanking you in person for virtually changing the face of “blogging” is on my bucket list. The stuff you write about is refreshing, honest, and raw. 

    • inventikasolutions

      same here, i got bored of following all tech blog (latest, iphone, ipad, android stuff). This blog was a fresh breath of air.

  • Cassieboorn

    Here is the problem, Facebook fan page posts used to reach 16% of your fans UNTIL they changed to the timeline format. Now, your Facebook fan page posts only reach 3-4% and those are on some of the most popular pages. It was around the time these stats changed that Facebook started selling ads that promoted your posts. So, I think right now it is a great way to reach a following again and again without paying for it but I am predicting as Facebook evolved you will have to spend money to reach any of your fans.

    I have a facebook page and a personal facebook profile and hands down get more engagement on my personal page. I wonder if it is more beneficial for public figure, bloggers, etc to have personal facebook pages than fanpages? 

  • achilles3

    i like the blog better. 
    facebook pages look like cosmetically enhanced trap doors to a hell where my time and money are taken from me without my even being aware of it.

    needless to say that environment does not help me receive your message well 

  • Peter Merrill

     wish I was an IT nerd or geek….then I could so much on my own with regards to Emarketing etc…finding someone to sit down and teach me is just not a happening thing…it seems whenever i attempt to follow e-instructions for anything…nothing happens! Gak!

    • inventikasolutions

      these thinks aren’t all that complicated, if you sit down for a moment and focus on it.

  • My Facebook page has made me money!  I cant deny that.

  • Ian

    James – you say you did this to get your message out – but has this campaign driven more visitors to your blog? Has it also generated more sign ups to your newsletter?

  • Celine

    I was hoping for some sort of revelation. But looks like you just thrown money on the problem. Six large is nice monthly ad budget if you ask me, especially when you don’t sell anything. 

  • Nice, this is a really good “how-to” post. Facebook is a great grassroots type of channel, perfect for a blog. Probably won’t use it anytime soon, but added to faves for the future.

    PS: Not sure why other people had issues, I got the link to your books immediately after verifying and am looking forward to the read. You’re a champ, James!

  • The growth has plummeted since then; why did you stop?

  • John Slater

    Why pay, when you can get fans for free? I would never pay Facebook for getting fans for me. Cassieborn is absolutely right about the numbers.
    If you really think you need more fans, you could always use any fan exchange websites like or

  • Jack Rother

    I wouldn’t spend a cent on Facebook ads – they never made any conversion, that would gave me more sales or event visits on my website… On the other hand, if you really need more fans on your fanpage you can for example use any of millions fans exchange services like or Just remember to never buy any fans…

  • Jo M.

    Some people seem confused by this article, but I think I get it: 1) You had a goal, something you REALLY wanted, and you got it! It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks of it; you had a desire to achieve something and did it. 2) You detailed the steps for us, to educate those who are interested on how they can do the same thing. 3) You probably see a future where 7th graders are going to accomplish this–in the not too distant future!
    Personally, I felt like a slug when I read this because I’m not tech savvy enough or into it–but still, I can appreciate it. This subject illustrates how much things have changed, and how much it will likely change further in just 5 more years. We may not recognize a lot of things on the Internet/social media in 5 years.

  • Besides providing online courses to their own (generally fee-paying) students, universities have felt obliged to join the MOOC revolution to avoid being guillotined by it.

  • 2907

    Now we all use some exchange service like to get more fans. Also this tips are useful but we can’t get 1000 with them

  • Sceptics point to the MOOCs’ high drop-out rates, which in some cases exceed 90%. But Coursera and Udacity both insist that this reflects the different expectations of consumers of free products, who can browse costlessly.

  • Besides providing online courses to their own (generally fee-paying) students, universities have felt obliged to join the MOOC revolution to avoid being guillotined by it. Coursera has formed partnerships with 83 universities and colleges around the world, including many of America’s top-tier institutions.

  • Please, will you
    really post some more things about the same issue; I am actually a great fan
    of your blog…
    Insurance Mascotte Florida