Facebook Ads - an Absolute Must

I just wrote this for the writing group I run. I thought I'd share it here to get your thoughts and feedback on it. Note that I write some of this in fairly strong language because I have several authors who keep doing thing wildly wrong :) . So for most readers, those emphatic sections probably don't apply to you.

I use Chrome. If you have issues with other browsers, try Chrome.

First, in Facebook, make sure you have a fan page set up for your author efforts. That’s key.

On the Facebook site, in the top far right, click the down arrow and then Manage Ads. On the Manage Ads master page, on the left list of options, click on Power Editor. This gets you to the precise options you’ll need to do this best.

The Power Editor tool NEEDS YOU TO DOWNLOAD YOUR DATA. So always start out by clicking Download to Power Editor in the top menu bar. That is how you begin.

Power Editor has the notion of campaigns, ad sets, and ads. This can get you very confused. What I suggest is this. For every ad you run create a new campaign, then a new ad set in that campaign, and then a new ad within that ad set. That way there is one and only one entry for each ad you run. That keeps it crystal clear and simple. I number them. So if I am starting a new ad for my medieval series I call the Campaign “Medieval 1”. I then make an ad set within that campaign and call it “Medieval 1”. I then create an ad within that ad set and call it “Medieval 1”. That way it is very simple to track my results and to know what I am bidding.

CAMPAIGNS
So, to begin, start by clicking on the Campaigns top menu button. Click on the plus sign beneath it to add a new campaign.

Name: Give it a series name plus an ID number. So in my case I am working on Medieval 3.

Buying Type: I always use auction. I want the best possible price, optimized by Facebook. That gets the best results.

Objective: I always use clicks to website. I drive traffic directly to a FREE ebook on Amazon. The more direct this link is, the more likely you get results. If instead you make users jump through hoops and do other things along the way, the more likely you are to lose them. You want them to download that book, period. Once they have the book, it’s the book’s responsibility to make them love you so much they want to do everything else. Voila. The campaign is set. Wasn’t that easy?

AD SET

Click on the Ad Set button in the top row. Click the plus button beneath it to add a new ad set.

In the campaign area leave the “use existing” button checked and choose the campaign you just created.

In the ad set name, give it the same name. So in my example I name it Medieval 3.

That is it for the basics. Now you have one half of the key to Facebook ads. The customizing of your audience. Note that you CAN CHANGE THIS GOING FORWARD WITHOUT LOSING YOUR LIKES AND SHARES. I was always nervous about doing this but I’ve been reassured that changes in this area are OK. You want to start with something near-perfect but you can tweak it going forward.

Budget – start small. You want to increase this gradually as you go, once you have the ad perfected. So start with $1 or $2 a day.

Schedule - I run them all the time. Some users like to avoid night hours for some reason, but I find I get great sales from insomniacs who are mindlessly surfing Facebook looking for something to do.

Audience – this is key!!! You need to know your audience. Your Facebook fan page should give you demographic information about who visits your page. You might be surprised. You might think only 18-24 year olds read romantic suspense when really it’s mostly 35-55 year old women. Study and know this. It is key. Also, I use only US because my Kindle link is a US one. That optimizes my results.

Interests – Absolutely, absolutely key. This is critical. DO NOT PUT IN RANDOM INTERESTS!!! Even if your book is about farming, DO NOT PUT IN FARMING. You are going to end up with thousands of farmers who hate to read, who will hate your ad for a book. Your interest MUST BE A NOVEL. Not a movie, not an author, but a NOVEL. If you choose an author like Agatha Christie you could easily end up with millions of people who hate to read but like her movies. That kills your results! The only time an author is safe is when that author doesn’t have TV or movie versions out. Start typing in an author name. Not all authors are in the system, so if you don’t find yours, try another one. You’ll see in the top right what your audience will be with that author and the age range / gender you’ve chosen. Keep adding in authors.

My aim in here is always to reach a total combined audience of a million, by using perfect author matches. Why? The longer an ad runs, the more it builds up likes and shares which makes it “seem more worthy” to new viewers. You want this ad to amass a massive number of likes and shares. If you have a tiny audience of 10,000 it just can’t do that. It’ll start re-showing to the same people very quickly and they’ll get bored. With a massive audience Facebook gives you even better rates and you bulk up those likes and shares to massive numbers over the months. That then convinces far more other people to like and share it because they trust in the ad. If you know your audience well this should be possible. If you have to scramble for authors who write like you then it sounds like time to do more reading. You should always know your genre and audience inside and out. That’s how you create crystal-perfect marketing material for them.

So you need the interests to be perfect. Putting in junk interests like “romance novel” or “mystery novel” will get you awful results. Those are far too vague. You must be precise about authors who write like you. And you need to know enough names (or names with large enough audiences) to build a substantial pool to tackle.

EXCEPTION
There’s the notion of testing out a new author name to see how well it does. In this case, you would choose one and only one author name, even if it has small results (like 10,000 or more – I wouldn’t bother with tiny-result authors). Your aim here is to see if you can get low 1-4 cent click rates from that author with your ad. If you do, then you can add that author name into your master ad that you’re running. If you get atrocious results, you know not to bother with that author. You need to do that for two days to see valid results. If you just run for one day it could easily be the day of the week or other factors that are causing low results. I’d definitely seen given author results that tanked on a specific day for Lord only knows what reason and then shone forever after that. Make sure you give the name a fair try before abandoning it. This is about long-term success, not thirty-second gains.

PLACEMENT
I always turn off the desktop right column, because I optimize my ads for the wide billboard shape. That gets the best results for me.

OPTIMIZATION
I always optimize for clicks to website, which is what I want. And I set pricing to get the most websites clicks at the best price. That is what I want. Website clicks. Note that of course you’re charged for impressions!! For them not to charge you for ad views would be insane since you’re the one creating that ad copy and image. If you do an atrocious job at designing your image and copy, that’s not Facebook’s fault, and you shouldn’t be rewarded with tons of free ad displays as a result. You are charged for the ads you show and it’s your job to make them work as perfectly as possible to lure in your target audience.

.....

ADS
Now click on Ads in the top right menu area.

Click on the Plus beneath the top menu bar to create a new ad.

For campaign, use existing and choose the one you made. In my case, Medieval 3.

For Ad Set, use existing and choose the one you made. In my case, Medieval 3.

Name your new ad this same name. So in my case, Medieval 3.

This is where you create the actual ad. NOTE!!!! Once you set this up you CANNOT CHANGE IT without losing all your likes and shares and so on. That is a HUGE HUGE loss of valuable information. So set it up properly. If you have to do some testing first, test away. Once you are set with it, LEAVE IT ALONE. Make a new ad if you have to. Don’t destroy that social value you’ve created. The reason they remove likes/shares if you make a change is say you made a clean, friendly ad and everybody “liked” and shared it. Now you change it to a hard core child porn ad and all those people have child porn liked and shared on their sites. You can imagine the fallout.

In Facebook page, choose the fan page for your author efforts. So mine is https://www.facebook.com/LisaSheaAuthor

For create ad, use a single image and link. You have to keep this simple for the users. Look up “The Paradox of Choice” – too many choices makes a user choose nothing at all. You want one clear message, one ad, and one call to action.

Website URL – a direct link to your Kindle ebook. No sales links, no nothing else. This is to a free book and having sales links to a free book can cause you all sorts of trouble with Amazon. They actively shut down accounts which do that too much. It’s better to use the sales affiliate links to your for-pay books and not risk it with the free books, especially in a blast situation like this. So in my case I link to the free book 1 in my medieval series - http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-Yourself-Medieval-Romance-Glastonbury-ebook/dp/B006JDEK0I/

Display URL – one place to push the FREE nature of it. I put in Free on Kindle

Text – this is critical!! This is the first thing the user sees. It has to be short, clear, and powerful. I put in FREE Clean Medieval Romance – Share the News!

This has to catch their eye and broadcast the key message in a short burst of words.

Headline – this goes BENEATH the ad image. So this can be more “catchy”. You’ve already got them interested by this point. I go with “Five Bachelors – One Decision” here but you can play with different SHORT tag lines that immediately catch the eye of your target audience. Don’t put the title. Don’t put long, drawn out dialogue. Short, meaningful, and catchy. That’s the key.

News Feed Link Description – You can go longer here but again be active! Be strong! Don’t lay out a boring plot summary. So I go with “Five Handsome, willing men are vying for her hand in marriage. Each man seems more perfect than the next. How will Kay decide who to pledge her heart to?”

Image – DO NOT USE THE COVER!! This is a horizontal billboard shape. A cover isn’t optimized for that! Find a horizontal billboard image that is matched to your series theme and is powerful at that size and shape. It needs to be clear and meaningful. It should be 1200 x 628. It should be clear, powerful, eye-catching, and lead the eyeball from top left to bottom right. If you really must use text, make sure you use Facebook’s text tool to ensure you haven’t exceeded their limits. They require only a tiny area of the ad be text. If you exceed it they can easily take your ad down weeks later after it’s gained a lot of social value.

Call to Action – I always use “Download”

Triple check EVERYTHING HERE. You can’t change it later (without wiping out your social value). This is the stuff that matters.

When you are all ready, click on UPLOAD CHANGES at the very top of the screen. That sends your final results up to Facebook to begin processing.

Now you must wait for Facebook to approve it. Note that even after the first round of approval it can always be disapproved later if you violated their showing-skin rules or too-much-text rules or so on. You could lose a lot of social value if it gets taken down after it’s got a lot of likes and shares. So make sure you do the ad as perfectly as possible up front so you don’t risk that.

Watch the ad progress for AT LEAST TWO DAYS to get a good sense of how it’s doing. Your aim is to watch the cost per click. If you have perfectly targeted your audience and created an ideal ad for them you should get 1-4 cent click rates. If you have a poor audience for your book, or a less-than-ideal ad that your perfect audience isn’t interested in clicking on, you could get far higher click rates. Make sure you look at other ads in your feed. What do they look like? What are other authors you follow using as their ads? Look at your ad copy. Is it written passively? Is it just a summary of your plot? Does it catch the eye and engage your heart?

You’re a writer – this is your chance to shine with your writing skills! It is your writing you’re trying to lure these readers in to read. Prove to them that your writing skills are wonderful! That what you write will engage and enthrall them!

Good luck!

Let me know if you have any questions.

FOLLOW-UP POST

I've had a number of authors PMming me with questions about FaceBook ads. I'm definitely not the guru on them, but I do make $10k/mo so I have some success. I have found quite clearly that driving traffic to books can be key in rising them higher in bestseller lists, which means more people find them, which means more reviews, which means more sales, and so on. It creates a snowball. I also don't find that my books self-sustain on a list without any ads. I need to keep marketing to keep them up there. Otherwise all the many other authors who ARE marketing will push me down again, relatively.

Here are a few of the most common questions I get and my take on them. I would love to hear other authors' views on these, so we can share the knowledge. Note this all assumes someone is using my PowerEditor technique bid-per-click-optimize that I listed in another thread.

CTR (click-through ratio) - this is KEY. This is how many people saw your ad and clicked. If this number is low it means your ad is not ideal for the audience you've selected. You want a high CTR. You should be able to get rates of 15% or higher here, if the ad is ideal for your chosen audience. BUT - it also has to be key for your book!! Say I create a stunning cozy mystery ad and target it perfectly so I have slews of cozy mystery fans clicking on it. Then they get to my book and my story is a gently wending literary tale. The readers will hate the book, leave me bad reviews, and not buy through to any others. So I'm drawing in harm :). A high CTR is only good if it is perfectly matched to your book's theme, imagery, and audience.

CPC (cost per click) - some people mistakenly think this is wholly related to the CTR above. But keep in mind your ads don't exist on FB in a vacuum. The ads are actively bidding against thousands of other ads for specific interest groups. Say I use an insanely popular interest group like Outlander. Me and 1,000 other ad-creators are all jostling against each other to get eyeball views for people with this interest. Sure, it's great if my ad is stunning - but I'm still going to pay higher for the privilege of reaching these people. If instead I find a perfect interest group that hardly anybody has thought about, I can get both the high CTR and also low CPC. That is, I get attentive interest from those fans and also pay very little because few other ad-makers are competing with me for those fans. That is why it's so absolutely critical for an author to read, read, read in their genre. To know all the authors who write just like they do. That gives you the ability to make perfect selections of interest groups. It doesn't work to try to copy this information from anyone else. Your book is unique and the perfectly-matched interests for it are also unique. You as an author need to know those. If I just tried to use Johnny's interests for my own ads it would fail - because our books aren't alike. I need to know my own.

BOOK 1 DOWNLOAD RATE - Some people think there's a 1:1 ratio between their FB ads and their Amazon downloads. Sure, it might be you only run FB ads and no other ads. But that doesn't mean that the only way people find that book is via the FB ad! People find books for ALL sorts of reasons. Also-boughts. Browses. Searches. All sorts of wild reasons. Where this comes into play is that some people think, "I'm spending $5 on FB ads and get X downloads. Therefore if I spend $20 on FB ads I should get X*4 downloads - and I don't. Therefore FB is broken." No no no :) . What you're realizing when that happens is that those X downloads you were getting weren't all due to FB, which is correct! Only a portion was due to FB. You can't just turn off FB and see what happens to your downloads, because it's more complicated than that. Part of your downloads are due to your position in search results and bestseller lists, which won't necessarily change immediately. You'd have to wait a fair amount of time to the book to settle to its "new normal level" - and that could lose you a lot of money in sales. So what I recommend is trying the opposite direction. Increase the FB ads and see how much your downloads increase. That differential gives you a better sense of the volume FB is providing. Again, though, your FB increase will rise you in the rankings on Amazon, which means more Amazon people will see you, and a portion of sales/downloads will be because of that higher Amazon level. So it's an interconnected organic system. Everything impacts everything else.

BOOK 2 DOWNLOAD RATE - Again, it might seem straightforward. 100% of people who like book 1 should then download book 2! But it's not that simple. If the ad isn't ideal, you could get all sorts of people downloading book 1 out of curiosity or mistaken interest who just aren't your target audience. It's ok that they aren't! I am petrified of horror. I can't read horror even if it's the most perfect horror story out there. So if your book 2 rates are low it could indicate an issue with the way you're driving people into book 1. Make sure the ads are perfectly on target, matching your branding and theme. Make sure your blurb is crystal clear about what you are offering. That the cover clearly resonates with your style. Make sure you do an awesome job of "pushing them forward" at the end of book 1 with every technique possible to make book 2 a one-click purchase. No hoops, no delays, you want them to BUY THIS INSTANT. If you are driving in ideal readers, and only ideal readers, and driving them hard to buy book 2 with one click, and even then they simply are not clicking, that's the time to bring in more beta-readers and brainstorm about what might not be engaging readers in the book itself.

READ THE REVIEWS - don't ignore your reviewers! They took the time to read your offering and give feedback. If you don't agree, that's fine - but think about how they got to that point. Did you bring in the wrong audience with incorrect advertising? Did the blurb and cover not make clear what they were going to get? Was the book thoroughly edited so it was as perfect as possible? There's always going to be the odd person who says "I don't like to read about sex" even when your cover features two naked people and it's titled "Sex, Sex, and More Sex on the Planet Sex. Part 1 - the Sex Orgy." But look for patterns. If there's a theme in the reviews, find a way to address it. Because the reviews you do see are the tip of the iceberg of people who feel the same way and didn't take the time to tell you.

BE WILLING TO IMPROVE - many of my books are up to version 15 or more. I am always happy to go back to fix typos or tweak things. It takes me five minutes tops to make the fix, regenerate, and reload. And that five minute investment can make a substantial difference in reviews and sales. It's a huge win in terms of the use of my time. In my clean medieval series I had a few readers complain about a (gently described) sex scene in one book. As much as I thought it fit there, I removed it. Poof, happy reviews, more downloads, more buy-through of subsequent books, etc. If your fan base has a point of view, listen. If you don't obey, have a solid reason why you're willing to lose that portion of readers.

I think those are the main things I've been discussing with people. I'd love to hear other authors' views on these items!



NOTE!! Don't just copy my ad and think it'll work for you! The language and style is very specific for my target audience. It's formal and "gentle." You have to write copy which is active language, alluring, and a perfect match for YOUR readership for your style of book. This is where you showcase your writing, to prove to those readers why they absolutely must get a copy of your book.

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