Facebook for Book Marketing: Changes are Afoot
Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing
If you're an author (and you're web savvy enough to be reading this blog), chances are that you've used social media to promote your work in the past. With Facebook, this probably took one of two approaches.
Of course, you've no doubt marketed your books to friends and followers with status updates, simply by letting them know how and where they can make a purchase (or simply keeping them updated on your progress and events surrounding the release). Some of you, however, may have purchased a Facebook ad. These are the little boxes that exist over on the sidebar of your browser. They're made to blend into the Facebook theme as you browse around, but they're ads nonetheless.
The ads are always in the same place. Even though they're often relevant to my interests (Facebook is frighteningly good about that), I tend to utilize 'banner block,' ignoring the marketing messages in the same way I often glaze over banner ads on other websites.
I'm not alone in that tendency. Days before Facebook's initial public offering in mid-May, General Motors announced that they were withdrawing their $10 million ad contract with the company, citing a lack of effectiveness. In fact, a 'successful' click-through rate on a Facebook ad is only 0.5 percent. That means that one in 200 people will click on your ad (and that's a best case scenario).
Although GM's withdrawal wasn't enough to keep Facebook's share price from reaching $45 in the early hours of trading, it's since declined dramatically, falling under $27 in just two weeks time. Credit for that slide goes to a public realization of Facebook's monetization problem. With a large percentage of their traffic moving to mobile usage, how do they keep advertising dollars rolling in without critically compromising the user experience?
Taking a Cue from Tumblr
Blog platform Tumblr is a favorite of many authors these days. With infinite control over appearance and a complete lack of advertising, the site's fresh vibe is reminiscent of Facebook years ago, when it was still the indie underdog to MySpace.
Tumblr, however, is growing fast, and also in desperate need of a monetization plan. Until earlier this year, the company's sole income was largely derived from selling custom theme templates to users. To supplement that, they announced 'Highlighted Posts' in February.
When a user gets ready to post their latest bit of genius, they now have the option of paying $1 to highlight the post, featuring it with a sticker in the adjacent margin and making it 'stickier' on other users' walls.
Still an indie darling, Tumblr hasn't received much negative pushback for the move.
Recognizing the opportunity, Facebook followed suit with a beta program launched in New Zealand this March. Users were given varying options between 40 cents and $2 to make their status updates rank higher and remain longer on their friends' news feeds.
While the blogosphere debated whether or not allowing users to pay to highlight their posts would ruin the organic algorithms of Facebook, the company went ahead and took a big step to appease shareholders by launching Promoted Posts on May 31.
Available to Pages (these are typically used by businesses and organizations, unlike 'profiles' used by individual users) with more than 400 'Likes,' the new feature gives business users the opportunity to promote their individual status updates. A button next to the blue 'Post' button opens a drop down menu that gauges how many followers the page has and how many a highlighted post can reach.
If you have 1,000 followers, chances are that your average status update reaches 16 percent of them. To prove the viability of paid posts, Facebook even added a tracking statistic at the bottom of each post, allowing users to judge the effectiveness of paid vs. unpaid posts.
Fork over a small amount -- $5 perhaps -- and that post will remain 'sticky' on followers pages for three days, garnering as high as a 75 percent view rate.
I don't know about you, but if I had just published a book, I'd sure want 75 percent of the people that Like my page to be aware of that and know where they can buy it.
Of course, we're in the early stages, before this new method has caught on across Facebook's array of nearly a billion users. There's a legitimate concern that paid posts could end up dominating the average users' wall. We'd all end up being a lot more careful about which businesses we 'Like,' or perhaps we'd just switch to a different social media platform altogether.
Like Tumblr, perhaps.
What do you think? Would you pay to promote your book directly onto the Facebook news feed of your followers?
Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom pens and other promotional items such as custom USB drives, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.
Tony Eldridge is the author of The Samson Effect, an action/adventure novel that Clive Cussler calls a "first rate thriller brimming with intrigue and adventure." He is also the author of the Twitter marketing book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests. His new novel, The Lottery Ticket, was just recently released on Kindle.