Here’s the deal about Facebook ads for authors. They can be a great source of ready profits if you do it right, but it’s hard to do it right…and if you do it wrong, you’re just wasting money.
That’s why I first want to talk about how not to waste money and effort on this initiative. You must be able to commit to the following four things if you want to make Facebook ads work for you:
- Putting 2-3 hours of work per week into making it work (at the beginning)
- Persistently managing and refining your ad set
- Testing different ads to find out what works and what doesn’t
- Spending several hundred or a few thousand dollars over the first six months
If you can’t do all of those things, consistently and with focus, for at least six months, Facebook advertising to drive book sales is not for you. Don’t worry. It’s not for everybody, and that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to get your books in front of strangers.
Still with me? Ready to commit some time, effort, knowledge, and hard-earned cash to the cause? Great! Let’s move forward.
What Facebook Ads Are
Facebook are PPC or PPM advertisements, both of which use the same basic delivery model. Facebook shows your ad to Facebook members based on preferences you set up, and according to their own algorithms. Some of those members follow the advertisement to a landing page, website, or facebook group/page you select. It’s really that simple.
The difference between PPC and PPM is about how you pay for them. PPC (Pay Per Click) ads charge you a certain amount each time someone clicks on the ad and goes to the destination you set up. PPM (Pay Per Impression, also known as PPI) ads charge you a certain amount each time somebody sees your ad. Generally speaking, PPC ads cost more per iteration, but have a better return for each time you pay.
Unless you know a lot about advertising and have a compelling reason to do otherwise, always choose the PPC option when buying Facebook ads.
Beyond that, Facebook ads come in three distinct levels:
- Individual ads, a single combination of image, text, and link you set up to run on Facebook
- Ad sets, collections of ads you instruct Facebook to run together to create variety and increase interest while targeting the same basic audience
- Campaigns, groups of ad sets you create and interact with at a strategic level
We’ll be dealing with individual ads today, and talk about sets and campaigns in later posts. For now, just know what these are so you won’t be confused when you’re asked about them while setting up your first ad.
Facebook Ads Step by Step
For the rest of today’s article, we’ll walk you step by step through setting up your first Facebook ad.
Have a landing page (it can be your Amazon book page if you’re in a hurry, but a landing page you create is better). Have an image (it can be your book cover if you’re in a hurry, but something more dynamic is better). Have some basic ideas about who reads your books and what kind of ad copy will most reliably get their attention.
Until you have all three of those things, you won’t be able to create a viable Facebook ad. Get those ducks in a row. You will also need to set up your billing with Facebook so they know how to charge you.
From your Facebook Author Page, look at the left side of your screen. There’s a column of links and icons. Find “Ads” and click on it.
Again in the left hand column (it’s a new column, but still on the left hand side) find “Ad Center”. Click on the arrow to its right, which will expose a drop-down menu including the option “All Ads”. Click on that option to enter the Facebook Ads Manager.
In your main screen you’ll see a line of text that says “Show more details in Ads Manager.” If you’ve never done ads before, this will be beneath a placeholder image for ad results. If you’ve done ads in the past, it will be beneath a chart of basic results for your past ads. In either case, click “Ads Manager” in that line of text.
In the top right corner of the Ads Manager screen, click on the bright green button that says “+ Create”. This will help you set up a basic campaign. For starters, it will be a campaign consisting of a single ad set of a single ad.
The popup that appears will ask what your primary campaign objective is. We’ll start with “Traffic”, which tells Facebook that you want the ads to lead people who see them to a location online: your author page, landing page, or book sales page. Select that, then hit “Continue”.
It helps to name your campaign using the options in the same popup, but that’s not compulsory. Naming them just helps you keep track later on.
Basically ignore this next page. It consists of a handful of advanced options you don’t need to worry about to start:
- Special Ad Categories refers to a few highly regulated ad types, none of which are related to our book.
- Campaign Details covers settings you put together on the previous popup
- A/B Test is an advanced ad technique we’ll do a whole article about later, but you don’t need to engage with this time
- Campaign Budget Optimization lets you fine-tune how you spend your ad money, but honestly Facebook’s AI does this better than most of us can. Unless you’re a highly skilled ad manager, leave it alone.
Like I said, we’re basically ignoring this page and just clicking “Next” at the bottom.
Here’s where we get to the meat of your ad. The screen includes several sections. Let’s go through them one by one.
Ad Set Name
This is just what it sounds like, and set to the default “New Traffic Ad Set”. Come up with a naming convention for your ads, and start with this. For example, you might call this first one (Book Title) 1.0, and the next one (Book Title) 2.0, etc.
Here you tell Facebook where you want the ad to lead people. Of the options available, use “Website”. That means when people click on the ad, they go to the website you assign. Even if you’re just sending folks to your Facebook Author Page, this is the option you want.
This is a real winner for authors who don’t want to spend a lot of time creating ads. By turning this to “On”, you tell Facebook to take a few images, headlines, and snippets of text copy, and combine them in different ways automatically.
I recommend using this free service for any ads you plan to run longer than a few days. The same ad rapidly becomes invisible, while the variations Dynamic Creative puts together make it all look fresh over time.
Budget & Schedule
Again, exactly what it sounds like. Run some numbers ahead of time to figure out how much you want to spend on this ad. Then set it up using either a Daily Budget or a Lifetime Budget.
When you run your ads, Facebook will charge you a certain number of cents for every impression or click. If you set the budget to daily, it will deliver ads until it reaches the budget, then quit for the day. If you set it for lifetime budget, it will deliver ads consistently until it reaches that cap, even if it does so in a few minutes.
If you want to choose Lifetime Budget, select that option and then enter the budget you want to spend over the lifetime of the ad run. If you choose Daily Budget, you’ll take two steps. The first step is to choose Daily Budget and put in a number equal to 1/10th the total budget you want for this ad. The second step is to select an end date ten days after the day you want to start the ad.
Before looking at this option, look at the two boxes on the right hand side of the screen: Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results. As we fine-tune the audience selection, the values in those boxes will change. Perhaps counterintuitively, you want a fairly narrow audience definition, aiming for between 800,000 and 1,200,000 to find a narrow enough audience to really get their attention.
Chances are you’ll start with that value at above 200 million. By narrowing the audience in this left-hand box, we will eliminate people who are less likely to be interested in your books. Armed with the demographics you know about your typical readers, go through and set…
- Location – start with just United States
- Age – choose the best age group for your buyer (which might be different from your reader)
- Gender – usually “All Genders” unless your books are specifically for one gender
Leave Languages alone. It’s set by default to target speakers of the main languages used in the locations you chose. You don’t have to specify “English” for the United States. If your book were in Spanish, and aimed at the USA, then you would want to go in and make the change.
That leaves “Detailed Targeting”, which is where you will make most of your valuable progress. Here you’ll choose to include or to exclude the demographics, interests, or behaviors you think your ideal readers share. For example, if you write high fantasy, you might include Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons. If you write non-fiction, a few of the most important industry terms would help.
Use the “Suggestions” option, or type in your best ideas, and keep at it until you narrow your audience to the range in question. Use the “Narrow Further” option to create an ad that targets people, for example, that are fans of both Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons.
Placements, Optimization, and Delivery
Leave the final two boxes alone. Some advanced marketers might be able to squeeze more links out of them, but that’s not for us today.
Once you’ve managed all of those, click “Next” to move on to the next step.
This final set of options sets up the ads Facebook will show on your behalf. Let’s look at each set.
The same as before.
Here is where Facebook confirms who you are. Set the Facebook Page option to your Facebook Author Page
For now, choose Single Image or Video. Carousels are a cool option we’ll talk about another time.
Here is where you set up the ad. Use Select Images to upload your image, and add Primary Text, Headlines, and Description you want for the ad. Copy and paste your destination page’s URL in that section. Leave the Display Link alone for now, then choose the Call to Action you think will resonate most with your readers.
Leave tracking alone for now. Setting it up is a pain in the butt.
Once all that is done, click “Publish.” The ad will go into review and if there’s nothing wrong with it, things should go live within a few hours.
Basic Best Practices
Now that you know the steps, here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your very first Facebook Ad.
- Narrow Audiences is Better at first, since you want your ads to reach the people who are most likely to be interested more than you want to reach a broad group of people. If you’re selling a book about beer, you want to shout about it in a taproom, not in the city square.
- Images are better than text. Video is better than images, but takes a lot more time to get together.
- Your Landing Page must shine. If you spend money sending lots of people to a page that doesn’t convince them to buy your book (or at least sign up for your newsletter), you’ve wasted that money.
- Start With a Small Budget, $100 over 10 days or even $50 over 5 days, until you’ve figured out what combination of audience, image, and text does the best work. Then scale up your ads from there.
- Have Great Images, with sufficiently high resolution to look great even on huge monitors.
- Use Fiverr to create professional images and videos for cheap.
- Include a Clear Call to Action telling people exactly what you want them to do.
- Include an Awesome Offer, telling people why they should do what you want them to do.
Next month, we’ll do a 201 edition of this article, diving deeper into the most important aspects of your Facebook Ads. For now, set up your account and play with the settings. Get familiar with the interface, so you’ll know how to do what we suggest next time.
See you then!
Image by Firmbee.