Facebook Ads for Authors 201

Now that you know whether you want to run Facebook Ads or not, you may find that when you log in to your Facebook Ads account for the first time that there are three levels of advertising to deal with. It’s a bit confusing, and honestly intimidating, for some folks, but easy enough to understand once you wrap your head around it. 

Today’s we'll help you wrap your head around it. We’ll talk about each of the three levels of ads, what they’re for, how they interact with each other, and some of the most important things to remember about each. Ready? Let’s get to it. 

The Three Levels of Facebook Ads

Facebook ads come in three different levels: the Campaign, the Ad Set, and the Ad. One way to look at them is like a battle plan:

  • Your Campaign is the overall strategic objective. In a battle, it might be “Establish a beachhead in Europe to free it from Nazi Germany.” For your writing, it might be “Bring more subscribers to my mailing list.”
  • Your Ad Set is a set of specific targets you want to aim your ads at, in order to establish the objectives of your campaign. In a battle, this might be “Land troops on Omaha, Utah, and Sword Beaches on June 6, 1944). For your writing, you would select the attributes of one of your core reader personas to create your Ad Set. You might have several ad sets for each campaign.
  • Your Ad is an individual piece of marketing material you put out into the Facebook ecosystem to draw eyes toward you: a specific tactic. In a battle, this would be the positioning and objectives of individual units in the field. For your writing, this would be one particular photo or video combined with text aimed to capture viewer interest. Each ad set might contain any number of ads.

Now that you know what each level looks like, we’ll dive into the specifics of each. 

The Campaign Level

When you create your campaign, you set up the high-level considerations for what you want from ads you run on Facebook. By setting these parameters, you tell Facebook’s algorithms how to place your ads, to make them do the most they can for you. You will make several choices during this stage. We mentioned them in passing last time, but we’re going deeper here. 

Campaign Objective

This is the overall objective for your campaign: what you want it to accomplish. As of August, 2021, Facebook offers 11 different objectives to choose from:

  • Brand Awareness, which puts your ad in front of as many people as possible and for them to remember your name
  • Reach, which aims at raising awareness with telling as many people as possible the only objective
  • Traffic, which optimizes the add to drive traffic toward a website of your choice, for example your Facebook Author Page, book sales page, or a landing page for your newsletter
  • Engagement, which positions the ad for the most possible reactions, shares, likes, or responses to the content in the ad
  • App Installs, which aims the add to maximize click-throughs to install a download you provide
  • Video Views is exactly what it sounds like. This ad campaign delivers videos to viewers, and optimizes for number of times it’s watched
  • Lead Generation will attempt to gather contact information from viewers, and optimize the ads for that purpose
  • Messages sends interested viewers to message you via Facebook Messenger. They will expect a prompt response, but represent potentially hot leads
  • Conversions aims to get people to take action on your website, and monitors how many click-throughs take that action
  • Catalog Sales depends on you first creating a catalog on Facebook, then places ads to drive people to that catalog
  • Store Traffic sends buyers to a brick-and-mortar (physical) storefront.

For most authors, we most strongly recommend choosing Traffic as your campaign objective. This optimizes the ads to send interested people to the website of your choice. If you’re a savvy marketer, you might want to experiment with Engagement, Video Views, Messages, or Conversions…but for the most part, Traffic is the correct choice.

Name Your Campaign

This option lets you label the campaign, ad sets, and ads. It’s not compulsory, but can help you keep track of things later. Name your campaign, but leave the ad sets and ads for later. You’ll be able to name them as you create them. 

Special Ad Categories

Federal law and Facebook policy require that you call yourself out if you’re advertising in certain spheres: credit, employment, housing, social issues, elections, or politics. You advertising for your books should not fall into any of these, so you don’t have to worry about it. Set this to “No Categories Declared”

Campaign Details

This will ask you about three things (one of which is hidden behind a “More Options” toggle):

  • Buying Type: this is set to “auction”, meaning you’ll pay the lowest price per click available at that time. Leave it there unless you’re a marketing whiz who can optimize things quickly and accurately.
  • Campaign Objective: double-checks the objective you set already. Leave it be.
  • Campaign Spending Limit: how much you want to spend, maximum, on this campaign. This can be a strong safety option to avoid nasty surprises if a campaign really takes off. Set this for the most you can afford to spend on Facebook Ads this month. 

A/B Test

Leave this alone for now. It’s an advanced concept we’ll go into full details on in another episode of this series. 

Campaign Budget Optimization

CBO distributes your ad budget for the campaign across all of your ad sets. Go ahead and activate it. Facebook knows more about how to make your ad dollars stretch than you do, and it makes life easier. Just make sure your campaign spending limit is set appropriately for what you can invest at this time. 

That’s everything that goes into a campaign. 

The Ad Set Level

At the ad set level, you decide on a target audience, and how much you want to spend on that audience. We went into the step-by-step details of how to set this up last time, and we’ll go into some of the best practices for targeting in our 301 episode. Right here, we need to understand the concept of a core reader persona and how it interacts with Facebook Ad Sets. 

Imagine the person most likely to read your book. I don’t mean a generality like “people who enjoy mystery novels”. I mean, in detail. Write up a quick character sketch like you would for a book you’re about to write, or a role-playing game you’ll start soon. Ask questions like:

  • Where do they live?
  • What language do they speak?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they male or female?*
  • What do they like enough to list it on their Facebook Profiles?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • Have they experienced certain life events recently?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?
  • What kinds of things have they purchased recently?

Chances are you have between two and three core populations who will represent most of your readers. Draw this up for each of those populations, and make an ad set for each.

For example, our friend Jason Brick writes books and produces videos about family safety. He has found he has three core populations who buy his books and watch his show:

  • Experienced moms, between ages 30 and 45, who live in English-speaking countries, mention parenting, mommy blogs, or martial arts in their profiles, and who have bought at least one baby product recently.
  • Dads between the ages of 35 and 50, who live in English-speaking countries, and have a profession or hobby associated with martial arts, law enforcement, the military, or self-defense. 
  • Safety professionals, all genders and ages, who own a business related to safety such as a martial arts studio, personal protection firm, parenting podcast, or security shop. 

As a fiction example, a writer of mystery novels might find she has two core populations:

  • Stay-at-home moms between the ages of 25 and 50, who live in English-speaking countries, with kids of school age or older, who have bought at least one book recently.
  • Men and women between the ages of 30 and 60 whose browsing habits suggest they’re about to go on vacation, who name mystery authors, movies, or television shows in their Facebook profiles. 

Drilling down this far will help you get your ad sets defined and optimized for the best possible results. 

*You can’t get political on this question. The options available are “All”, “Men”, and “Women”. Facebook may become more enlightened later on, but for now that’s it.

The Ad Level

We went over the steps and components of what happens at this level last time, and our Facebook Ads for Authors 401 episode will go into the most important ways to make your ads shine. For now, keep in mind the following best practices so the money you spend on these ads produces the results you need.

  • Never be deceptive with clickbait or bait-and-switch advertising. Trust you lose is lost forever.
  • Make sure your ad is optimized for mobile viewers, which these days represents about 75% of your traffic.
  • Always monitor your campaigns to track performance and fine-tune the ads.
  • Keep your Facebook page active. Ads are a supplement to your activity, not a replacement for it. 
  • Keep your text tight and clean. Let the images and video do most of the talking. 
  • Include a clear and concise Call to Action so viewers know what to do next. 
  • Recycle ads by combining the same text with new images (or new images with the same text) to grab more attention from audiences.
  • Always proofread your images and text before going live with any ad. 

Creating an effective ad is as much an art as a science, but these basic dos and don’ts will help you get started. 

Tune In Next Time

Next month, we’ll get into Facebook Ads for Authors 301, where we’ll discuss targeting your ads to make each penny you spend more effective. 

Image by Firmbee.