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  • Writer's picturePortland Jones

So what exactly does Facebook advertising involve?

I had never done it before – Facebook advertising that is. This is becoming a familiar refrain, having to do things I had never given any thought to. Me? Running adverts? Really? The answer though is that if I want to sell copies of my book, I need to do these things. After all, sales are how we judge the success of our book aren’t they?

Don’t worry, I know that in theory this isn’t true. I have enjoyed the experience of writing. I am happy to have shared my book with family and friends and basked in their kind words. Yet I look at the sales on the Amazon KDP reports and my heart sinks. It would be nice to have even a few more readers love my book.

So stepping blindly into the dark once again, we (I say ‘we’ as I am aided and abetted by my daughter who is considerably more tech savvy than I am) took a shot at a Facebook ad. We made a book trailer – having discovered the delights of video-editor. Actually, we made two, one to emphasise the supernatural part of the plot, and one to focus on the intergenerational and family feel of the story.

The supernatural one was suitably eerie with typical spooky music and weird effects. People that we tried it out on confirmed we were on the right mark if we were aiming for creepy. For the family orientated one, we used photos of people and cakes, and focused on the family relationships. People who had read the book liked this one.

We decided we would run Facebook ads using these two videos, one after the other, to see which one produced more results, to see if we were on the right track with either of them. I was setting up the first ad when again the gremlins attacked me. As I was trying to set up the advert, almost finished but still needing to make some final edits, my phone died. Pfft, all that work wasted. However, it was worse than that. When I powered up my phone again, the advert had gone live!!!! This meant that instead of the UK audience I was intending, the target audience was in the US.

We sat back to await results. I can confirm no difference in sales. The ad reach was 1978 people, with 298 post engagement and 215 three second video plays. You get lots of information. The trick is understanding what it means. In terms of the reach, to put it in context, a previous post on my Facebook author page reached 61 people, so the ad was definitely an improvement on my normal reach.

The fact that people were watching just three seconds of a longer video suggested that something was not working well in the video itself. We have now adjusted the video based on feedback that there were too many words on the page. We are running the ad again and are seeing a greatly improved number of people watching most of the video. This must be a good thing. I hope that we are interpreting this information correctly.

What was interesting though was the amount of people who accessed my website. The ad included my website name so I am presuming that the ad will have inspired some people at least to take a look. The analytic function on my website is impressive. It can tell you from where in the world people have viewed your website. From the UK, USA and Canada to Israel and even Australia. WOW. A far cry from just the people in my local neighbourhood where I first started promoting my book.

I am very aware that this is a newbie talking. I know that I could get professional help with all this, pay someone to do it for me, to design ads, and all the other services on offer. I have two answers to this. One, I don’t have money to spend in handfuls. The advert on Facebook cost just £10 to run for five days.

Two, I am loving doing this. Is it stressful? A lot. A bit. Is it a challenge? Definitely. Is it fun? Yes. What better way to brighten days in lockdown?

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