Do Facebook ads work for authors?

When I decided to increase my social media IQ several weeks ago I was obviously interested in learning everything I could about Facebook. While I could find sure fire twitter strategies, Facebook seemed to be a tougher nut to crack. One method that seemed to work for others was the use of Facebook ads with a very narrow focus. I did quite a bit of reading on the subject, and set off confidently to make my first ad.

I went to Facebook and picked a very small niche using the same demographics options that I talk about in the video. My target audience was about 28,000 people which I felt very comfortable with. I scoured the internet trying to find a coupon similar to the one I used for Google AdSense, but none of the codes seemed to work. Even the ones one pages made in 2011.

I found one sight selling $50 coupons for $19. $19 is cheaper then $50 but still seemed a little steep. Google then took me to Adcouponcode.com which sold $50 Facebook Ad vouchers for $7.95. It seemed like the site had good traffic (An Alexa ranking under 200,000) and you paid using PayPal so I felt safe grabbing one. I bought the coupon, applied it to my Facebook ad account and it worked like a champ. I’m not telling you to run out and start your own Facebook ads, but if you’re new to Facebook ads and going to do it anyway, $8 is a lot cheaper then $50!!

The stated terms of the coupon were:

– This is $50 Facebook Ad Vouchers values.
– Work on new account within 15 days of creation.
– One Coupon valid for one Account.
– Expire in 90 days after redeem.
– Voucher Code is Valid for 15days from today.

With the “apply within 15 days” clause I would wait to grab a coupon until you’re ready to start your ads. The video does a good job of going over the different options for configuring your ad demographics, pricing etc., so I won’t cover those points too much here. I’ll get straight to the VERY unimpressive (so far) results.

For Google AdSense we used cost per click (CPC) ads instead of cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) so we would only pay when someone actually clicked through to our site. For Facebook I went the opposite approach and used CPM on the premise that our ads were had such a narrow focus we should have a high success rate. Paying $0.37 per 1,000 impressions seemed like stealing! After 2 and half days, here are our ‘fantastic’ results.

Facebook Ad results for our campaign

Ouch. 132,170 impressions for 25 clicks and 6 new friends. And this is AFTER I read books on Facebook marketing! After seeing these results I’m glad I used a coupon instead of paying full price for these results. 6 new fans is nice, but not at $3 each. I’ve since lowered my CPM bid to $0.10 each so I go broke a little slower than before.

One thing to notice is that even though my niche was very specific and only 28,000 potential users, I got over 130,000 impressions in under 3 days. How? Because it shows the ad to the same person multiple times. That’s not bad for branding, but our conversion results were horrible. I’m not giving up on Facebook ads, but at this point I have to ask the question “Are Facebook ads worth it for authors?”

A lot of people have had great success on Facebook for local results where you can target down to specific zip codes, but when your targeting specific categories or interests across the world it’s tough to pull users away from what they came to Facebook for. People come to Facebook to talk to friends and play games, not be sold things. My ads tried to take advantage of that and offered a free eBook for a quick “like us”. There are definitely some things that I could and will tweak, but I still have doubts as to my ability to get the results to a point where I would feel comfortable with my cost per friend acquired. Even if I improved my results 300%, that’s still over $1 a friend. That seems a bit steep when our best case scenario is that they eventually buy a $2.99 book which makes us $2.00. I think Facebook ads are awesome for a lot of businesses, but I’m not sure ours is one of them. I hope I’m wrong and I figure out what the missing ingredient is. Either way I’ll follow up later with results from a sample size larger then 3 days and discuss more about specifics of ad designs and goals.

Even with the beat down I received I still wouldn’t talk someone out of giving it a try, especially at the $8 real money for $50 credit rate. If we end up getting 32 new fans for our $8, that’s a quarter a fan. Even a notorious cheapskate such as myself is comfortable with that price considering these are people who are guaranteed to be interested in our books. If you do give it a go be sure to let me know how it goes.

Making a Facebook Fanpage and an iFrame App

We’re starting off our “Social Media Palooza” series of articles with a simple one: making a Facebook fan page and setting up an iFrame app. I’ll insert the video here and then I’ll talk about a few strategies and caveats below.

I know most of you probably already knew what a fan page was and how to create one, so I went through that in a hurry. What was probably less well known was the concept of an iframe app for your Facebook fanpage. iFrame apps have been getting a lot of talk recently as people are getting better and better at using them. Basically, an iFrame app lets you make a mini webpage inside of a bigger webpage.

After I shot this video, I went to Lizzy’s Facebook page and tried to pretty up her default page. If you check it out here, you’ll see I added a teaser to encourage people to like her page.  The page contains the text “click the like for specials,” her latest book trailer, a real short blurb about her, four book covers, a link to Lizzy’s twitter, a link to this site and a form for people to join our mailing list. THAT is a busy page. It was a pain in the butt to do, but it’s done.  When we make sites for her series, I’ll have a nice template to start with that just needs a few tweaks.

After I made the page, I made it the default “Welcome” page for those who haven’t yet liked Lizzy’s author page. I then saved a second copy of the page that appears as soon as someone likes the page.  This second page contains everything the initial welcome page contains – with the addition of a link to Lizzy’s free books.  So if someone new goes to our site, they see the default welcome page. Once they click “like”, the page reloads with the link to the free books added.

Note: After the initial time someone “likes” your page, they will automatically go to your “wall” tab every time they visit your fan page. There’s apparently nothing you can do to change that. What you can change is the default setting where people will end up if they happen upon your fan page and haven’t liked it yet.

Your design doesn’t have to look anything like ours. I just wanted to touch on the capability of rewarding people who “like” the fan page by providing bonus content (YouTube videos, new book covers, links, chapter/excerpts, etc.) that will likely be of interest to them. This is a great incentive for people to like your page. If nothing else, fans will recieve your announcements and you may hook them with something at a later date. If you come up with a great idea, let me know!

One caveat is as of October 1st, Facebook makes any iFrame app – that links to external content – use a SSL connection. If you have no idea what that means, you’re not alone. 🙂 It just means that Facebook now mandates the same type of security that banks and other online shopping places use and your pictures, videos etc. need to use HTTPS instead of HTTP. When you embed a YouTube video, do the same thing you’ve always done, just look for a little “use HTTPS” link right below the code it gives you to copy and paste. Check that box and it modifies the link for you.

If you want to use a picture in your iframe app, you need to host it somewhere that will let you access it using SSL. There is a 100% free site which let’s you do this easily at freevps.us/img/ . Pictures and movies will suffice for most people, but if you want to add the functionality that only a HTML file will provide then you’re going to have to create it and host it someplace with SSL or pay to have someone do it for you. It should just be a one time charge. Either way, post your new fan page here when you’re done so I can check it out!

Hopefully the tech terms didn’t end this post on a sour note. Even if you don’t feel like dealing with any of these issues, the video shows how quick and easy it is to make an iframe app for your fan page, and offer something to entice some “likes.” As always, feel free to post any questions or comments.