How to get more Facebook likes without spending money on advertising

I am the marketing intern at Nochex Ltd – the online payments people. Part of my brief is to increase the number of likes the Nochex Facebook page has to over 1,000. This is the story of how I did it. Hopefully, you can learn from my experience and avoid some of the traps along the way.

In February we set ourselves a goal to reach 1000 Facebook likes by the end of March. In order to reach this target I needed 863 new likes in 6 weeks. I wanted quality likes as well meaning no robots or spammers. I was aiming for real people who buy and sell on the internet; the sort of people who use Nochex every day.

FB  Like Thumb

Why don’t you just buy some likes?

If you want more numbers on your page then there are people online who claim to sell Facebook likes. As well as being illegal in the eyes of Facebook this does not produce quality likes. Pay-for-like services will either provide fake robot accounts or trick people into liking your page without their knowledge. These aren’t quality likes. We wanted real people who liked Nochex because they chose to – not because of some technical voodoo trickery.

Okay. What about paid Facebook advertising?

Facebook say the best way to get likes is to use their paid advertising service. A recent report by global cloud computing company Sales Force into the effectiveness of Facebook advertising found that UK businesses pay, on average, 87p per like. This would make the cost of my 863 new likes £750. This was way out of my budget (I was told to spend no more than £30!) so I explored other options hoping to find a more cost effective method of raising our profile.


If you don’t want to buy likes, what can you do?

With Facebook advertising out of the question I needed a plan. I already use the page to publish and share useful content which is great but doesn’t generate the results I desired. I wanted to bring in lots of likes and quickly. I sent posts out on other social media accounts including Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ asking our social media friends to like our Facebook page but this returned only a limited response.

I needed to provide an added value to our Facebook page that would persuade lots of users to like our page and do it quickly. I had a eureka moment when a man in a van offered me a free slice of pizza. The van was covered in hashtags and twitter profiles, encouraging pizza eaters to tweet about their lovely free pizza. As a happy pizza recipient I got straight to Twitter and let the world know about this lovely giveaway. Looking at the featured hashtag told me there were tonnes of other satisfied pizza eaters doing the same. I thought if I could run a similar campaign with the Nochex Facebook page then I would get the likes I needed. By offering to give Facebook users a prize if they like by a certain date people would definitely start liking at speed.

A give-a-way, great! So what’s the plan?

After deciding on the competition route, I set to working out how the competition would run and be promoted. The first step was choosing the prize. We love helping our merchants out so it was a no brainer to pick a prize provided by a Nochex merchant. At Nochex there are a thousands of sellers operating in a multitude of industries giving a wide variety of possible prizes.

The tip here is to give people what they want. Wine is always a nice prize idea but limits your possibilities by ruling out anyone who doesn’t drink and leaves you in a bit of a legal kerfuffle when you’ve accidentally sent a bottle of wine to a thirteen year old. Clothes are good but throw in more obstacles as dimensions and tastes are subjective depending on who wins. The final choice seems obvious in hindsight: chocolate! Who doesn’t like chocolate???

Nochex has many quality chocolate selling merchants so choosing which one was another task in itself. Whilst trying not to pick favourites (Nochex loves all merchants equally!) I ended up going for Cambridge based Chocolat Chocolat. They are well known for their delicious chocolate which is handmade in store by one of their fine chocolatiers. It is said that they are the finest chocolatiers to grace the planet since Willy Wonka closed his factory. After we informed them of the competition they were ecstatic to be involved. Their luxury bouquets (pictured below) made a perfect fit for the high quality image we wanted to project.

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The Rules

Now it was time for the fun bit: the rules. Facebook have their own set of rules regarding promotions and it is important to follow these if you don’t want your page to be shut down. A key factor is that you are not allowed to ask users to share, comment or tag their friends. Essentially, the only activity that can be used as the criteria for a competition is a like. Fortunately, Facebook likes are what I wanted so these rules were fine by me.

My competition rules were simple. To partake, all entrants needed to do was like the Nochex Facebook page and at the end of the six week period one of these lucky likers would get some chocolate.


With the prize in place and the rules set up all that was left to do was let the world know. In these situations social media and online mediums be extremely useful. The internet is great because it allows you to advertise to your target market for little to no cost from the comfort of your desk.

Facebook was my first port of call but considering the aim was to attract new likes I needed to do more than inform those who have already liked the page. Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs and even buzzfeed were utilised to let people know about our fantastic competition. I combined this with the use of posters with QR codes on local notice boards for a great mix between offline and online marketing.

I discovered early on that the offer was popular with compers, people that enjoy entering online competitions. Compers are lovely individuals who will share the competition with their friends, post it on forums and leave lots of nice comments on your page. This is great because you aren’t allowed to ask them to do this but they do it anyway!

The largest referrer for the Nochex competition turned out tobe financial advice website: Money Saving Expert. Money Saving Expert has a popular section of its discussion forum dedicated to sharing great competitions like ours. Once the Nochex competition was published here the likes came flooding in.

The Results

The end results of this competition were fantastic. I managed to go over and above my target of 1,000 total likes achieving well over 1,400 likes. The same feat would have cost an estimated £1,131 in Facebook advertising. Seeing as our chocolates were £15, our competition cost us less than 2% of the would-be advertising cost. This really demonstrates the lack of cost effectiveness in Facebook advertising.

4 Quick tips to take away

Here are a few things to learn from our Facebook give-a-way success:

1- Raise your profile online with a competition  Running a social media contest is an effective method of getting your desired results for minimum cost. We achieved 1,400 likes for less than 2% of the equivalent Facebook advertising cost demonstrating the efficiency of Facebook competitions.

2- Read the rules  Whether your competition is on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social network there are rules to adhere to. To avoid having your page shut down make sure you read the rules beforehand and follow them carefully.

3- Utilise Online Forums – The internet is full of discussion forums for just about every niche interest imaginable. There will be some related to your industry, some related to your prize, and definitely plenty for online competitions. Share your give-a-way in these forums and you are guaranteed to get the numbers in.

4- Enjoy Yourself! Giving out stuff is fun! Studies have found that random acts of kindness can increase happiness and prolong life expectancy. A social media give-a-way may not quite be a ‘random act of kindness’ but none-the-less you can still find joy in knowing that someone has received a lovely prize.

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3 comments on “How to get more Facebook likes without spending money on advertising
  1. jo says:

    Nochex plugin does not work with latest version of wordpress/woocommerce

  2. Ian Wilson says:

    A great article, we will definitely be following this strategy!

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