Half the battle in writing and other artistic pursuits is promotion. But who has the time? Like many creative people, I have a day job to support my addictive writing habit. But you know what? Facebook ads are a viable outlet for a promoting creative work on a small budget.
Last fall, I developed a series of photography books for people with dementia. I researched my options for Internet advertising. I was overwhelmed. The Internet is an iceberg, with visible options above the surface and great depth underneath.
While there are multiple options for Internet advertising (check your email, you’ll find them), I found Facebook advertising met my budget and goals for the “No Words” series.
I’m a reader; I see lots of book ads on my personal Facebook page. The Great Repository of Information in the Cloud knows I like narrative history and biographies. How could I lasso this tool to promote my own works to caregivers of people with dementia who may buy a book or two?
Set Up a Page
First, I set up a Facebook page for the No Words series. Setting up a page is easy, and works the same way as setting up a personal Facebook page. In the create stage, however, make sure you check “Artist, Band or Public” figure as the category and “Writer” as the subcategory.
Facebook will lead you through the process of setting up the page. You can post updates just as you would on your own page, a free way to reach readers. Ask your friends, ask anyone you know to “like” your page, and include the address in all your social media.
Set Up the Ad
You can set up an ad on Facebook itself by following the link from the left sidebar:
Or you can download the Page Manager app, and Facebook will guide you in making your promotion. This is a great app because you can not only make your ads from your laptop or phone, but you can monitor its success. It’s fun to watch the numbers go up, each one representing someone who is looking at your ad or page.
Facebook asks you to choose an objective from among boosting your posts, promoting your page, sending people to your website, reaching people near your business, raising attendance at your event, getting people to claim your offer, and getting video views.
You’ve chosen a focus, now:
- Determine a target audience.
- Determine the interests of that audience and location. (If your books are about waterfalls or Oregon, citizens of central Asia probably won’t be a target.)
- Determine budget. Set this up any way you want, by setting a maximum spend for a range of dates. This makes planning easy. For example, if you are selling a book about making Easter eggs, you might want to run the ad for thirty days before the holiday. Facebook takes most credit cards, of course.
For this project, I targeted women over fifty who expressed interest in these keywords: caregiving, aging, retirement, seniors, long term care, dementia, and healthcare. My topic was broad, but because of my small budget, I targeted by location. I chose sites where my newspaper column ran for five years because my name might be known. (We’ll not examine too closely the utility of yesterday’s press.)
I ran my ads right after Thanksgiving through the week before Christmas when caregivers might be shopping for a loved one. I spent a little more than a hundred dollars, and I had almost 6,000 contacts. I wish I could tell you that I sold six thousand or even a thousand books, but I didn’t convert.
Where did I go wrong? I lacked a call to action. Even with an inexpensive ad, you can still simply ask the reader to do something, purchase your book, or visit your website.
Think about all the ads you see on your Facebook page. Which ones do you click? If you’ve searched for a Findley sprinkler head (thanks, Steve Martin), sure enough, an ad for one will pop up on your Facebook page soon after.
Make your ad effective by attracting the right people with the right message. Then ask them to do something.
Easter and Mother’s Day are right around the corner. Those are two times when caregivers struggle to find a special gift for a loved one with dementia. I’ll be trying again. This time, I will think more strategically and build in a call to action.
Amy Abbott is an Indiana writer whose online home is www.amyabbottwrites.com. She also does a weekly column for Senior Wire News Center called “A Healthy Age” as well as her long-standing humor column “The Raven Lunatic” whenever she feels the spirit move.