Indie Author Technique #732: Leveraging Facebook Ads


I run a Facebook page about the Sex life of the Common South Sea Snail. It is a popular page and can safely be classified as the most popular page of its kind anywhere on the Internet. Mom and I often add witty comments and like each other’s posts.

Every time I add a new post, Facebook tries to lure me into a deep dark hole via the “Boost this Post” sticker. Basically you pay some money, and Facebook makes a watery promise that between x-thousand and y-million people will see that particular post. The minimum they ask for this kindness is $5.00.

Why would you want to use Facebook to advertise something? After all it is a place where people post pictures of their kids, dogs and generic funny pictures that everyone else reposts. Also its filled with scams and lies, not to mention women who send you private messages that  your Profile Picture (in my case a particularly large Oyster Mushroom) has convinced them that you will be their forever love.

In spite of this, research paints a completely different picture. Let us look at some figures. Facebook has more than 1.3 billion users– real users not dead accounts. Of these, 20% have bought something because of a Facebook ad. (Just so that you know, 20% of 1.3 billion is 260 million.

Mr Youth polled 4500 adults about, amongst other things, how Facebook influences them when it comes to buying products. 90% of this group have either made or received a recommendation via Facebook from a friend or family member. 65% of these then went on to buy something. Furthermore, 80% of the people who interacted with a social media response made by a brand went on to buy something.

This clearly indicates that Facebook can be an effective marketing place. Brands with a social presence are trusted 36% more than those without an online presence.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some Facebook advertising snippets

Facebook allows you to target a very specific audience. Do you want to target specific countries, or just one city? That makes great sense because why would Tony’s Take-Aways in Tenerife want to advertise to people in Peru? Why would you want to expose your book to people who do not even understand English?

You can specify gender, age, and interests. During the Second World War they used a “let’s drop as many bombs as possible, so that one or two may hit the target” approach. Carpet bombing, I think it was called.

Today they use smart bombs.  (They only explode on impact!) Theoretically, one bomb could hit and destroy a WMD factory without hitting a maternity hospital or the local tax collector’s office.

Bull’s Eye

Indie Authors will immediately see the attraction of this feature for Indie Publishers. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign blowing everything out of the water, why not spend a few bucks on Smart Bombs?

The system allows you to be super specific. If you want, your ad will only be shown to people who have indicated an interest genre. Or you can specify interest in specific competing authors, or even those who have expressed an interest in your work.

So far it really sounds like a perfect solution. Tiny capital outlay, huge potential return. Why not do it? Is there a downside?

The Other side

On, we stumbled across a discussion between a bunch of authors discussing this exact issue.

“Let me use my super-Zen abilities to summarize this discussion for you,” intervenes Zen Scribe: “Some say: Yes it works. Others say: No it does not work. And the rest say: What an interesting discussion, we sure would like to know if it works!”

Those who have been successful  say that you should be extremely specific in your targeting. You can do it. Don’t just target someone with “Reading” under their interests. What do they like to read? Bumper stickers? Classical Novels? History?Science Fiction? And even choosing “Science Fiction” is too wide a genre. There are so many sub-divisions. Trekkies don’t like and don’t read Star War stuff. ET buffs don’t like V.

I am stealing this specific example from the Kboard discussion: if your book is about serial killers, target the current bestseller(s)’s fans. Until I found Aqua Fresh, I was a Colgate man.

You see, you have to be specific. If you aim at 10 Million people, your ad will lose its impact. It’s like mixing one packet of Raspberry Kool Aid with 1000 gallons of water. You are not going to taste it.


The truth is that the odds are stacked against Indie Authors. The odds are not impossible to beat, but just highly not in their favor. The Indie Author will have to become a marketer as well, and a skilled one at that.

There are millions of marketing resources out there for guys and girls like you. Choose wisely which three or four you are going to use to reach your customers. If you try to use Facebook, and Twitter and your own website, and the local newspaper and andandandandandandandandandandandandandand we are back to the Kool Aid scenario.

Consider getting a specialist on oDesk of Fiver to set up your first Facebook Page or …. campaign and then use that as a guideline for your future DIY campaigns.

And remember what Zen Scribe say: You can just do it!


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: