Saturday, November 17, 2012

Book Marketing: More on Facebook Ads and Promotions

Last week, I paid Facebook $20 for a promotion that turned out to be a waste of money. Many authors who read about my experience concurred that Facebook ads and promotions are useless for selling books or driving traffic to a Web site. Should you bail on Facebook? (Not yet.)

What I Got for $20

In my experiment, I wrote a post on my Fan Page that was designed to drive traffic to this blog. As I was finishing the post, I noticed Facebook's Promote option, which promised to reach 10,000 people. Certainly, reaching 10,000 people would result in more Likes for my Fan Page, as well as traffic and new subscribers to my blog. A link in the Promote dialog box led to a confusing section in the Facebook Help Center. Busy writer that I am, I ignored the Help Center page, and spent the money.

Click the Promote button to increase the reach of one of your posts.

Here's what I got for my $20:

4 comments on my Facebook post
8 new Fans
8 clicks to my blog and no new subscribers.
According to Facebook, the post did reach 10,000 people, but a third of them didn't speak English and lived in India, Turkey, and the Philippines.

In addition, my subsequent posts to my Facebook Fan page, reached 50 percent more people than normal. (I typically reach about 200 people, which increased to about 300 probably because so many people saw the promoted post.)

Worth the money? No.

How to Improve Your Performance, How I Goofed (and My Excuses)

I didn't target my promotion. Period. To target your posts to say, English speakers in the U.S., is a multi-step process that wasn't obvious to me. Here's how to fix the problem, so you (hopefully) don't waste as much of your money as I did.

I still don't understand why my post went to so many non-English speakers -- virtually all of my fans are English speakers, most of whom live in San Francisco, Boston, and New York. Most of the people who saw my post, however, were from Manila, Amman, and Istanbul. Upshot: A third of the people I paid to reach were non-English speakers.

More Confusion: Promoted Post (what I did) vs. Sponsored Story (an ad)

A promoted post lets you pay to have a post reach more of your Fans, and in some cases their friends. Typically, one of my posts only reaches about 10 percent of my Fans. I paid $20 to reach all 2,000 Fans, plus another 8,000 or so of their friends. Note: You have to have at least 400 Fans to promote a post. More on promoted posts.

A Sponsored story is an ad that lets you reach people who are not your Fans. A sponsored story appears in the right hand column of the page, along with all the other ads. This is more expensive than a promoted post. More on ads.

Which is Better: A Promotion or an Ad?

In an informal test by a geeky Web site, the Promoted post was cheaper and generated more clicks. But the ad reached a lot more people. Which will sell more books? At least one of my readers, said that the ads were selling some books. Is your head spinning, yet? No? Then read this for more details:

Why it’s Worth Having a Fan Page (and a Personal Profile Page)

- SEO: You can include links from Facebook back to your blog and Web site, which may make you more visible to people searching for topics related to you in Google. 
- Facebook Groups: A personal page allows you to post links in various Facebook groups, which for me have generated a lot more traffic than a promoted post.

Advice and Comments from Readers of Last Week's Blog


- One reader suggested promoting your Facebook page for free on sites other than Facebook. (I include a Facebook Fan Page link on all my Yahoo e-mails and on my blog page. Unclear if I'm adding any Fans this way, but the price is right -- free.)
- One author said that Facebook Ads had been useful for selling books.
- One reader paid for an ad on Goodreads that wasn't successful, but found that a free give-away of five books was worth the effort
- Two readers called me a racist.

More on Facebook Fan and Personal Pages

- You're reaching fewer of your hard-earned Fans and why you shouldn't care.
- Facebook is charging to promote posts on your Personal page.

Had Enough Book Marketing?

"The Online Date that Went a Little too Well"
(video of me reading original erotic humor at a local library.)
Content warnings for foul language, vibrating ovals, and cruelty to beagles.

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