Case study: How Hugecity grew through Facebook events
Hugh Malkin is Co-Founder and CEO of Hugecity, a website and app that helps people discover Facebook events in their area.
In the past 3 months our Facebook posts were clicked on 1.25 million times without setting up a single promotion. We were able to target our audience for free by posting to Facebook event walls.
Facebook is a great way to get a message out to a lot of people, but the costs can add up quickly. With the right message you can get a lot more engagement by posting to Facebook event walls.
There are lots of benefits of posting to a Facebook event. First, it’s free. When you post to a Facebook event wall everyone who is attending that event gets a notification about your post. This way your message is not lost in the News Feed. You can target specific interests and locations. Unfortunately, Facebook events don’t have categories but simply reading the description you will learn the interests of the attendees.
You want to find an event on Facebook? It’s difficult! So we have made it easy for you. We have gathered all the events in your neighborhood, and in every city, and we have put these events on our map, www.hugecity.us. Our map is as big or as small as you want it to be. It is the very best way to see all Facebook events by attendance and location. If you log in you can post directly to the event on Facebook.
Make sure your message is interesting to the event attendees. If it is not, someone can report your message or your account as spam. Experiment and find out what works best for you. A few reports won’t get you blocked. However, if your posts are reported enough over time Facebook will temporarily lock your account.
Like most first-time entrepreneurs we took the Field of Dreams approach, “If you build it, they will come.” We quickly learned that there is a ton of competition out there asking for your user’s time. Today, marketing needs as much focus and time as your product.
Goal: Make my target market aware of Hugecity
Available Budget: $3,000
Timeframe: 6 months
Target Audience: All event lovers on Facebook could use Hugecity. So it was natural for us to target Facebook events. We concentrated on rare and hard to find events. These events normally had little to no marketing budget. These public events were rarely known outside of the event manager’s circle of friends. If these attendees knew that there was something going on they would go out almost every day.
Step 1: Bought Facebook ads (Cost per click $1.13)
Step 2: Market at local events and never bought swag again (Cost per click $2.50)
Step 3: Create a fake Facebook account and hire an intern to post in events (Cost per click $0.01)
Step 4: Automate Facebook event posting (Cost per click $0)
After we learned through A/B testing and trial and error, we were ready for automation. Apparently, people really like top 10 lists. So, we created a list of the top 10 Facebook events in every city and neighborhood every day. Then we posted a link to the list to the walls of each of the top 10 events.
Even though we never asked for feedback but the messages and comments were amazing. We were showing people how creative and deep their event community really was. No newspaper or blog could ever have covered 12 million events all over the world. Our posts also reminded people about the event and helped undecided people buy a ticket.
Starting from one city, we gradually scaled to 1,084 cities and neighborhoods around the world. Using the Facebook platform, we could post to an event wall without attending the event with either a user or a page. You cannot do this on Facebook.
Mechanical Turk helped us identify the geographical boundaries for each target city. Then posted a targeted message in the local language in the ten most attended events within the bounds for each city every day. We had to build a city management system to modify cites as we went.
Facebook allows you to set up an unlimited number of pages so we set up 94 of them, one for each state and each major country. Each page had a weight corresponding to its number of cities.
Averaging less than 1 spam report per 10,000 views, we were well under the radar for Facebook’s spam filter. However, we were limited by how frequently we could post to Facebook. Through trial and error using the platform, we discovered evenly paced 100 posts per hour per page would keep us from getting blocked. We enlisted some friends to be admins for our pages and we spread our posts over several time zones. We were posting through the page so my friends or their friends never saw the posts unless they were attending the targeted events.
We averaged one like and six clicks per post. On the weekends our 8,000 posts would yield 55,000 visits a day. Eventually, the Facebook platform changed and closed the ability of being able to post to an event wall without attending the event first. This strategy is still possible if you attend the event first using a user.
Unfortunately, Facebook regularly makes changes to their platform. Anything you build is not guaranteed to work indefinitely. Still, its benefits far outweigh all the work. Our underfunded neighborhood event guide from Atlanta was able to race up to the top of the millions being spent on our competitors.