Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Should You Advertise Your Book on Facebook?

As authors, we’re always looking for ways to get the word out about our book. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but one thing I’d never done (until recently) was use Facebook advertising. However, thanks to Facebook’s changes in how people see posts, only about 5% of people who subscribed to my page were actually seeing my updates. I knew I needed a way to reach them, so when my last book came out, I decided to try some of the Facebook advertising options. A friend of mine used Facebook post boosting for one of her books about a year ago, and it was really successful for her. I decided to give it a shot. I boosted a couple of posts on my page during the book release and my reach went up. I thought it was great because, like Goodreads ads, I was able to choose how much I wanted to spend on the boosted posts and the posts were boosted until the money ran out. I learned a couple of things from this:

1. If you boost a post with a photo, text can only take up 20% of the photo. This is something Facebook doesn’t tell you when you initially boost a post. They come back after a couple of hours, tell you that you screwed up, and take your ad down.

2. Although I got a small increase in likes with boosted posts, the likes didn’t seem to be translating to sales. And, the people who’d just liked the page didn’t actually seem to care about my page, or my book. They didn’t engage with the page at all.

So, I decided to try Facebook ads instead of post boosting. I had a lot more success with this, particularly the in-newsfeed ads that you often see show up as “sponsored” but they almost look like something a friend posted. I was able to target my ad to a specific audience, and my sales started to rise. I also got a few page likes from the ads. However, one of the things I didn’t like about the ads was that the money runs out so quickly. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you’re paying Facebook. I decided I'd spend $15 a day for 3 days. I thought that amount would give me a lot of exposure. It didn’t. My ad money ran out in less than an hour all three days. And while I did get sales from the ad, it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the cost of the ad. Again, my likes increased a bit, but again, the likes didn’t seem to be coming from people who actually cared about my posts, or wanted to buy my books. I couldn’t figure out what was up.

Then I saw this video.

And I cursed that I’d wasted marketing money boosting Facebook posts and using Facebook ads.

With Facebook’s new algorithms, the most important thing is authentic users. You want people who actually like your product to like your page, and engage with your posts. As many of them as possible. That’s how you extend your reach, and get Facebook to show your post to more of your fans. When you ask for random likes here and there (like I always used to do with giveaways), it’s actually shooting you in the foot because those are people who probably aren’t going to engage with your page, and it’s bringing your average down. From Facebook’s perspective, they look at your post and say, this page has 2000 fans, but only 6 people liked the post. This page is not relevant, and we’re going to limit how many of the fans see posts from now on.

So, where do we go from here? I have absolutely no idea. Facebook page likes have kind of become a popularity contest. People look at your number of likes to help decide if you’re important. But, likes really don’t matter at all. 1000 likes can be bought for $50, and it hurts the page owner in the long run because of Facebook’s algorithms. So, do we stop using Facebook? Should we go to another social media platform to contact readers? From what I can tell, newsletters seem to be the best way to reach my audience for big things like book releases. It kind of feels like stepping back in time to use email as a primary means of communication, but I haven’t found another better way to reach authentic fans.

What about you? What are you doing to reach your readers?


Rachel Morgan said...

Wow, I had NO idea that's what actually happens when you pay for Facebook advertising. And I had no clue about the click farms! Thanks for sharing that video. Very informative. I've also been told many times that email lists are the way to go -- it's just a slow process to gather a large number of subscribers!

Angela Corbett said...

I had no idea either, Rachel! I was annoyed. And the click farms just made me mad. I'm glad the post helped you!

Laura Pauling said...

I don't count on FB that's for sure! :) I think FB - or any social media - works best when tons of fans are seeking you out, not the other way around. So as far as FB, Twitter..etc. It's better to be there when fans do try and find you.

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