Social Media Advertising: A Basic Overview
You’re using your social media accounts to promote and sell your books, and that is great! But have you looked at other ways social media can help boost sales, outside of your own profiles and pages?
Social media advertising is a great way to expand your reach and build more conversions from the outside-in.
A Short History of Social Media Advertising
In the past decade, a handful of social media platforms have evolved into massive global communities. Unless you have been living on the moon, this is a pretty well-known fact. An otherwise not so well-known fact is that advertising played a big role in social media’s meteoric rise.
For the early platforms, advertising didn’t always exist. At least not in the forms you see it now. That all changed in 2008/9, when Facebook began including targeted ad options with commercial pages. That set the standard for subsequent platforms like Instagram (now owned by Facebook) and SnapChat, who both launched in 2010.
All this to say, advertising is as much a part of social media today as pictures of your old college roommate’s newborn/puppy/beach vacation. It also has far-reaching potential for publishers and authors.
See below for an overview to help consolidate social media advertisings vast landscape. Might as well begin with the platform that started it all . . .
As we wrote in the quick history above, Facebook advertising options have evolved quite well, pretty much on par with online advertising superpower Google.
Types of Facebook Ads
- Audience and Targeted Ads – These are arguably the most effective ads you can purchase on Facebook because of the vast demographics.
- Photo Ads – The most common Facebook ads, these usually include an image, headline, short description, and a call to action.
- Video Ads – Similar to Photo Ads, except . . . well it’s a video.
- Carousel Ads – Also similar to a Photo Ad, but you can include up to 10 images in one ad.
- Slideshow Ads – Combines a Photo Ad with a Video Ad showing static images on rotation.
- Canvas Ads – A full-screen mobile ad with interactive capabilities that combines videos and photos with a call to action.
“Boosting” your Facebook posts is also a simple and cost-effective way to reach a targeted audience. These aren’t ads in the typical sense, however we feel they’re still worth mentioning. Each post you publish on your Facebook page has the opportunity to be “boosted” to a specific audience, and will show up in their Facebook News Feed.
The Cost of Facebook Ads
Most Facebook ads are priced on a CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-impression) basis and differ depending on a few factors, such as:
- The type of ad
- The markets you are trying to reach
- The ad placement within the platform
High end cost ~ $27
Low end cost ~ $0.80
Facebook’s ad options are pretty flexible and highly customizable. The more you pay the more exposure you get. Every publisher and author can benefit from a low or high-impact Facebook ad campaign with the correct planning and strategy.
Facebook’s not-so-little sibling has pretty much the same advertising options. It’s also the second most widely used social media platform in the world, so worth a double dip.
Types of Instagram Ads
- Photo Ads – Same as Facebook Photo Ads; include an image, headline, short description, and a call to action.
- Video Ads – Same as Facebook Video Ads; all that you get in a photo ad, but as a video
- Carousel Ads – Same as Facebook Carousel Ads; all you get in a photo ad, but you can include up to 10 images.
The Cost of Instagram Ads
Call us lazy, but once again—See The Cost of Facebook Ads
Instagram works well with mobile for a smart two-pronged social media advertising attack. If you were to limit your ad budget to Facebook and Instagram, you’d already be hitting a huge segment of readers. The key is finding out which approach works best for you. There are more options out there, so let’s keep going!
Maybe not as robust as Facebook, but Twitter launched around the same time and therefore has the benefit of developing well-thought out advertising options that gets results. Twitter ads are also highly targeted.
Types of Twitter Ads
- Promoted Tweets – These targeted tweets appear directly in a user’s timeline.
- Promoted Accounts – A subtler approach, this isn’t an ad per say, but invites users to follow your account.
The Cost of Twitter Ads
Based on how specific your target audience is, Twitter ads can vary in cost from very low to very high:
High end cost ~ $10+ per engagement
Low end cost ~ $0.50 per engagement
While Facebook and Instagram have approx. 1.9B users combined, Twitter is claiming around 317M Tweeters worldwide. However, any losses are made up for with high segmentation, excellent targeting capabilities, and flexibility. Use Twitter for:
- Website clicks
- User engagement
- Lead gen
For authors and publishers, just having a Pinterest account is a good start. Your board stands tall as a highly visual smattering of books, authors, brands, and anything else you want to highlight. Basically, Pinterest ads are just promoted pins, so we have classified them by purpose.
Types of Pinterest Ads
- Engagement Pins – These pins are useful for brand advocacy—getting people to share and promote for you.
- Awareness Pins - Use these to reach out to people who may not know about you or your books.
- Traffic Pins – Convert Pinterest users over to another online platform like your website or anywhere else that can be a point of sale.
The Cost of Pintrest Ads
Pricing for Pinterest’s promoted Pins is based on their purpose. You set a maximum amount you want to spend on ad space. Using an auction format, Pinterest only charges the amount needed to beat out other bidders. This isn’t to say you won’t get an ad, but the pricing is based on demand, rather than a static number.
Engagement Pins – Cost-per-engagement
Awareness Pins – Cost-per-Impression ($5 minimum)
Traffic Pins – Cost-per-Click
One of the biggest benefits of Pinterest is it has a very narrow demographic—urban females between the ages of 18 and 29. If you decide to advertise on Pinterest, keep that statistic in mind.
Because of its professional networking/employment slant, LinkedIn might be useful for non-fiction authors writing self-help books or books about business, etc. And while LinkedIn retains many of its professional networking features, it has realigned itself to offer more varied advertising options outside of the HR realm.
Typed of LinkedIn Ads
- Display Ads – uses existing ad creative & gives various display positions
- Text Ads – Text-based ads that show up in the right-hand portion of LinkedIn.
- Dynamic Ads – Similar to Text Ads, but offer more formatting options.
- Sponsored InMail – Sponsored content delivered directly to a user’s LinkedIn inboxes.
- Sponsored Content – A content post that appears in a user’s LinkedIn timeline.
The Cost of LinkedIn Ads
You have the option to choose between Cost-per-Click or Cost-per-Impression models.
Minimum budget ~ $10/day
Minimum bid ~ $2 per click or $2 per 1,000 impressions
Because of LinkedIn’s recruitment/HR slant, it may not be the ideal place to try to promote your books. Best uses for LinkedIn advertising is to establish your brand as a book industry thought leader. This can work either way—for publishers and authors.
Ads should point towards blogs, news, or industry insights. Use ads to make a name for yourself. Once you establish yourself as an authority, people will become more interested in what you have to sell.
Because LinkedIn can be a bit tricky, check out some highly successful publishers and authors first to see how they use it.
Social Media Advertising that Fits Your Marketing Plan
Hopefully you found this overview helpful and chalk full of good information. Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive guide, but an overview to get you started. There are tons of different social media advertising options out there that we did not cover, but this should help you start the process.
But before you do start putting your hard earned cash into a Facebook or LinkedIn campaign, here are a few final thoughts:
- Know your Audience – This is a reliable way to make sure you are getting the best return on money invested in social media advertising.
- Understand the Platform – Take it slow. Before you start making bids, take a second to really dig into the social platforms you choose and make sure it is a right fit.
- Have a Plan – Just like every advertising campaign, you need to begin with a calculated strategy that looks at every angle.
- Measure your Analytics - each social media platform offers tracking and analytics. Make sure you measure these against your goals, to ensure your money is spent wisely.
- Have Fun – It’s social media. Be social. Your readers and potential customers will appreciate you that much more.