Monday, January 25, 2016

Facebook Ads -- A (Novice) Overview

I've been running Facebook ads off and on for awhile now and, while I still have A LOT to learn, I thought it might be helpful to share some insights here.

  1. Before you start, I'd recommend Mark Dawson's free video series on Facebook ads. He introduces the Power Editor, targeting and general best practices in a clear, concise way. He metes the videos out via email over the course of four or five days, which feels frustrating when you want to get down to it, but does make it feel more manageable.
  2. As Mark Dawson (and many who do Facebook ads) will tell you, the Facebook Power Editor (available in Google Chrome) is the way to go! It allows you to include a lot more copy and its analysis tools are a lot more robust than in regular Ads Manager.
  3. Images are important! After all, the whole reason people are on Facebook is to look at pictures (and, today especially, check out how much snow everyone got).The image size for a single-image Facebook ad is 1200 pixels by 628. You also have the option of creating an image carousel and the image size for carousel ads is 600 pixels by 600. Either way, it's worth resizing your images outside of Facebook and then uploading. I use PicMonkey to edit and resize my images, but there are lots of options.
  4. Speaking of images, Facebook likes pictures! Images can't contain more than 20% text. This doesn't include book covers, if you're using your cover in your image, but it can feel a little tricky to get to that 20%. The workaround is, of course, to use Power Editor to include more copy in your actual ad.
  5. Facebook offers a tracking pixel and the code is easy to install on your website as a page header code injection. I confess, I'm still getting my head around pixels and I have this article bookmarked to read to educate myself. I will say that I've got one set up for my current set of Facebook ads, which sends people to sign up for my free book, and it's useful to see which devices people are clicking from, for example. Once my ad has run a bit longer, I can use the pixel to create a custom audience.
  6. Speaking of custom audiences, choosing an audience is another one of Facebook's great advantages and I could (should?) write an entire post on this alone. Until then, my two cents worth -- narrower is better. Lookalike audiences (similar to those who like your Facebook page, for example) are a good starting point. You may also want to consider choosing those who've expressed an interest in books similar to yours. So, for example, if you're a romance writer, you could choose everyone who likes Kindle and likes romance novels. Or, you could search for specific authors and choose those who like Nora Roberts, Colleen Hoover, Samantha Young, etc. My personal experience has been best with lookalike audience, but I've had friends who've had great success with narrowing by interest.
  7. No matter what audience you choose, keep your budget in mind! As you set up your ad, Facebook asks you to set either a daily budget or a lifetime budget (I always do daily.) and whether you want to set a maximum amount per click or let Facebook determine how much each click is worth. I always let Facebook decide, but I've heard a good ROI is $0.11-$0.14 per click. My ads aren't quite there yet, but I have noticed the more I narrow an audience the less my per-click cost.
  8. Which brings me to the most important point -- monitor your ads! It's easy to set it and forget it, but it's also easy to waste a lot of money on ads that aren't working. I usually start with a small daily budget (£5) and re-assess after a few days. I also make 3 versions of an ad across 2 different audiences to see which combination works best and then stop all of the other ads. It sounds more complicated than it actually is and is worth the time and effort.
As far as return on investment, I ran a Facebook ad for the launch of my new book in December and saw a steady stream of sales for both books in my series. I stopped the ad on January 5 and, well, let's just say I've sold fewer copies than there are days in the month. My new Facebook ad campaign focuses on gaining newsletter subscribers, so my current ads aren't "selling", per se, but sales have started trickling in again with exposure.

In all, it's worth it to me, although I have a lot more to learn. If you're an author, have you tried Facebook ads? If you're a reader, do you consider Facebook ads annoying or a way to introduce you to authors you may not know otherwise? Inquiring minds want to know!


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

Mark Dawson is the FB man! I tried FB ads but I don't have enough product to push yet. Keep us posted!

Carrie Beckort said...

Great post, Brenda! I've only tried two Facebook ads. I'm not sure they were very successful, but it could be because I didn't optimize my options as well as I could have. I'll use these tips the next time I try!

Lindsey said...

This blog post is so informational and helpful! You are amazing. The world of online marketing and social media is so difficult, especially for those just starting out. It's hard to know which options to choose and how to optimize those options the best way possible. Thank you for giving some simplified explanations to those of us who need a little help!

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