I've got to admit that Twitter is still my favorite social network. It's how I connect with influencers and find podcast guests, network with other author friends, and I use it to share information every day @thecreativepenn.
But after years of resisting, I have now come around to the fact that Facebook is the most powerful advertising platform around because of its laser-targeting abilities and the fact that most readers are more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter.
I primarily use content marketing as my main form of attracting readers to my books, and writers to this website, providing useful or entertaining information through books, blog posts, podcasts, videos and social media. This type of marketing takes time rather than money and is great for growing a long-term business slowly, but if you have a budget, you can use paid advertising to get things moving a little faster.
So in this article, I'll go through how I'm using Facebook Advertising right now, which will hopefully give you some ideas for your own situation.
(1) Grow your email list
I'm currently running Lead Gen ads for my Author 2.0 Blueprint, which is a free ebook and video series all about writing, publishing, book marketing and how to make a living with your writing.
I target other writing sites, bloggers, writing magazines and authors who write about writing so my ads appear to people who Like those types of pages.
Lead Gen ads are entirely within Facebook so the interested person just has to click twice to authorize and then you can access their email in a downloadable file. You can then upload this file to your email management system. You can also set up an automation to do this for you with a service like Zapier.
This type of email growth is probably the best way to spend any advertising money as you will be able to develop relationships with those readers over time, and at some point, they might buy something from you.
(2) Sell books directly
There is a certain type of ad based on ‘Clicks to a website.' That can be your own website or it can be a specific sales page e.g. your book page on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo or other stores. The ad below left is a direct sales ad for my latest thriller, Destroyer of Worlds.
If you have an email list of readers who already like your books, you can do several cool things on Facebook that help you market your books directly:
a) Upload your list of emails into Facebook and create an audience from that list which you can then target with ads. So I will email my list about the new book but I will also do these kinds of direct ads for a limited time
b) You can create a Lookalike list from your email list, or your Facebook page, which you can then advertise to. These people will have a lot in common with your existing list and you can further narrow it down geographically or by authors that the reader likes
c) You can do general advertising to a market segment e.g. women in the UK aged 28 – 65+ who like Dan Brown and read on Kindle
It's important to note that it can be difficult to get the right combination of targeting, audience and text for the ad, and people who do get it right (like Adam Croft interviewed here) have usually tried multiple combinations before doing well with this kind of advertising.
We also tried video ads for the same book using the video below:
(3) Promote Likes on your author page
I've never really been bothered about growing the audience on my fiction Facebook page before, preferring to let it grow organically.
But then I discovered Audience Insights, which is a reporting function that allows you to learn more about your audience based on their collective profiles, and you need a certain number of Likes before the reporting starts to be worthwhile. I'm keen to find out more about my readers so this will be useful.
Also, when people Like your page, they may also sign up for your email list through the Sign Up button, plus you can use the Page Likes to create a LookaLike audience for other advertising.
These reasons make it worthwhile for me to grow my Likes faster with paid traffic, which may impact book sales over time.
If you're interested, you can find my Facebook pages at JFPennAuthor and TheCreativePenn.
(4) Promote webinars, summits and other online events or courses
People don't usually buy something the first time they hear about you, your book or your products. It can take several ‘touches' or connections before whatever it is filters through their awareness. It's the same with advertising online events e.g. webinars or summits, or online training courses and other products.
Because of this, when I have something to promote, I will:
a) email my list
b) share it on social media
c) share the link on the podcast
d) do a blog post (like this!)
e) set up some Facebook advertising to my list and potentially LookaLike lists by country and other targeted groups
Then people will hear about the event in multiple ways and I will get more sign-ups through my links. And just to be clear, I make income through affiliate commission, which means I get a percentage of the sale if someone buys through my link. This is a common form of online income for high traffic sites, which I cover in How to Make a Living with your Writing.
(5) Promote live events / book signings
I haven't got one of these running right now but when I run live events, e.g. workshops on writing, then I will advertise them on Facebook.
I usually upload my email list and then use geo-targeting e.g. display only to people who live in the UK. If that doesn't fill up the spaces, I will do a wider target e.g. people who live in Bath/Bristol who like writing.
This might be useful to you if you're running live events and want to get people along. I know professional speakers who don't bother with blogging/podcasting etc these days, they just set up an Eventbrite page for their premium event and then use Facebook ads to let people know about it. If it's on a topic people want, that's all you need to get ample signups.
OK, so those are some examples of how you can use Facebook advertising as an author, but of course, I don't have time in one article to outline exactly how to set these up. So if you'd like to know more, come and join me for a free webinar.
Would you like to know more?
Do you have any experience with Facebook Advertising or questions about it? Please do leave any comments below and join the conversation.
Icy Sedgwick says
I’m at the point now where I’m about to take back a book from a small press and re-release it myself so I’ll finally be able to see if Facebook Ads are actually successful! I’ll be at the Sunday webinar, ready to make plenty of notes 🙂
Joanna Penn says
super 🙂 see you there!
Mogomotsi Monnana says
Thank you so much this will help me build an audience. Not a big fan of Facebook but i guess it could really help.
Anna Samborska says
Facebook is my main hangout so I want to focus my energy there, releasing my first book. I hope to learn more at the Thursday webinar!
Alton Skinner says
Thank you so much for another helpful article.I’m really looking forward to the webinar. I am certain this will help grow my audience as all your other advice that implement has in the past.
official site says
Hey Joanna, thanks for a such valuable information. Marketing is everywhere nowadays. Especially – social media. Also, it was great to knew not just ‘what’ we can do with facebook ad, but ‘how’ we can do it. Thanks again. Hope to see more of your writings.
I read a tutorial that suggested using the ‘Post Engagement’ objective when creating an ad to promote your book. To me, it makes more sense to use ‘Click to Website’ and direct readers straight to the Kindle sales page where they can purchase immediately. Am I wrong?
I use Lead Gen when doing a facebook ad and point them to my website landing page. In that way, Facebook gives you the lead’s email address and name (all with the lead’s permission, of course). It’s very powerful and I can get about 20 – 30 new people on my email list every week. Though, it costs me $5 to $15 a week.
Less comment than question: can you target multiple sales pages from a Facebook ad? For example, the book will be available on Ibooks, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Or do I need my own page?
Joanna Penn says
You could just duplicate the ad and use a different link per ad – you’d want different targeting as well. So you can use the same basic ad setup but change the audience and targeting per iteration.