Monday, November 21, 2016

Advertising on Social Media

Public relations management and book promotion are essentially ways to get free advertising. If you are making a few dollars per book or less, you need to be frugal. I spent almost nothing on advertising Ting and I. What I did do was promote it on its own website,, and on Twitter and through my blog, by serializing it, as described above.

As a benchmark comparison, we’ll price Social Media (Facebook) advertising against local classified ads. My paid advertising has been almost exclusively for my coaching program, Write Your Book with Me, as each person who enrolls will spend about $1000 on my coaching and editing, taking roughly a year. Over the past few years, I have run a weekly classified ad in our small local paper, The Wallkill Valley Times, at the modest cost of $5 per week:

     With my help. Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.
With my help. Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

I got about one client per year from these ads, at the cost of $250/year. Perhaps I picked up some goodwill from the editor as well, as the paper ran a couple of stories about me and my authors.

Accommodating myself slowly to the twenty-first century, I sought and received some valuable free consulting from SCORE advisor Edison Guzman, head of A E Advertising ( As I described in a testimonial I wrote for SCORE and Edison [reciprocity, one hand washing the other]:
“…and Guzman SCOREs!” If small business had a play-by-play announcer, that would have been his exclamation, commenting on the help SCORE’s Edison Guzman has given me. Edison’s seminars and counseling sessions have provided me the most value I’ve received from my membership in the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, and I have gotten a lot from being a member.

Edison got my attention this April with his day-long free SCORE seminar, “Social Media Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners,” although I had already known, liked, and been impressed by him during my four years in the Chamber. Not only did the seminar awaken me to useful Facebook strategies, I found I was eligible and welcome to obtain free business counseling through SCORE at the Chamber. Who knew? Sign me up!
I really needed Edison’s help with advertising, in particular on Social Media, like Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. His first counseling session started with a discussion of my goals: I help people write and publish their books---as a coach, editor, even co-author---and I wanted another half-dozen clients this year.

Next came his exploratory question, “What is your unique value proposition? What sets you apart? Tell me about yourself and your business.” As we talked, Edison grew even more enthusiastic. He quickly nailed it, a theme for me: “Why would a former Harvard professor want to help you write your book for only $25 per week?” That became the basis of the Social Media campaign: on my blog, on Twitter, on Facebook. In subsequent sessions, he then showed me in detail how to use these tools successfully to recruit my next set of would-be authors.

The difference between a lecture and an expert’s hands-on consulting, which is what our SCORE sessions became, is the difference between learning a bit about something and actually knowing how to do it. I knew I wanted to advertise on Facebook as well as use its free features, but I needed help in negotiating the various set-up pages, in choosing my target market, my message, the optimal mode of delivering it, and even the best titles for my ads. Edison helped me by a combination of “fishing” for me and “teaching me how to fish,” so I could do it myself soon after. So many options existed, and Edison explained each of them to help me make good decisions.
Discouragement can come easily to the small businessman. Actually, I am of medium size, but my business is small, and I don’t always persevere. Without Edison’s guidance, I might have given up on advertising on Facebook, thinking the cost per response my ads were getting to be too expensive, but he reassured me that my Facebook ads were doing very well. We tweaked them, and they did even better.

Edison, drawing on his advertising expertise, taught me some of the factors that help motivate potential buyers to close the deal rather than procrastinate. We developed a campaign that reached potential clients with attractive messages about becoming authors [they are authoritative] or memoirists [they preserve memories], emphasizing the limited number of candidates to be accepted [six] in the limited two-week enrollment period. All along, we’ve had fun, as I have been learning so many things I had not been taught as a physics major.

I am looking forward to continuing to access Edison’s valuable expertise. The Social Media campaign he helped me with has already brought me half my quota of new clients, and the enrollment period has not yet begun.
I’d say, we SCOREd!

As the testimonial attests, I am high on advertising professional Edison Guzman and his help. I attended his day-long seminar “Facebook Marketing for the Small Business Owner.” [He tells me that these seminars net him 10-20% of the attendees as clients, even though he does no self-promotion during them.]

In April 2015, there were over 1.4 billion Facebook users. Almost 900 million of them log in daily. Let’s see: if I got only 1% of them, I would have 9 million clients. That seems optimistic. However, he reported that 42% of marketers report that Facebook is critical or important to their business. Who am I to argue with that?

There are many ways to reach people via Facebook: Timeline, Like, Share, Chat, Comment, Photos, Video, Tags, Groups, Lists, Pages, Events, Subscribe, and Advertise. Edison focused on advertising, which has its own Facebook sub-specialties: buying ads for the Newsfeed or the Right-Hand Column, or for Mobile viewing; Boosting a Post, getting others to Like your page, etc.

Edison Guzman advised me that before we start an Ad Campaign, we recognize that our efforts to get others to know, like, and trust [K, L, T] should reflect an awareness that people are not on Facebook to be sold stuff, but to connect with others and be entertained and informed. His five crucial ingredients to advertising on Facebook: 

    You must create a Page specific to your audience. [I set up Douglas Winslow Cooper with a link to my web site]
    You must target your audience with laser-like precision. [Tricky, as a discussion of my subsequent efforts will reveal. I did figure my would-be memoirists would likely be women over 50 and my businessmen would be men over 50.]
        You must have attention-grabbing images. [As a writer, I naively put much more emphasis on words rather than pictures. Make sure you have free images or pay the producer, or you can get sued,]
       You must use logical headlines appropriate to your reader. [See below, I thought to reach adults generally with “Tell your story,” memoirists with “Memoirs preserve memories,” and business folk with “Authors are authorities.”
   You must have an appropriate Call to Action. [What’s that? Click here to…go to my web site, go to my blog site, go to my book site, Like my Page, etc.]

Edison next discussed how to target your audience. Some of this targeting is by demographics: geographical location, age, gender. Facebook also has information on their interests, the categories and hashtags they like, their friends and Likes and groups and …. Presumably the FBI has somewhat more information, but Facebook may be close.

To advertise on Facebook, get to know their rules, especially their taboos.

I already had a blog and a LinkedIn account and a Facebook page with a business page having 50 Likes. I had nearly 10,000 “Followers” on Twitter, about half of whom Followed me when I started as a political Tweeter primarily, and the other half of whom Followed me in my reincarnation as a writer-coach-editor.

I knew nothing about advertising on Facebook, and this became my first priority. Edison showed me how to set up a simple ad. First, we get attention with a headline: “Tell your story.” “Authors are authorities.” “Memoirs preserve memories.” Then we follow with a sort description, such as “Write your book with a professional book coach.” Don’t forget your Unique Selling Proposition and your Call to Action.

Although I got to it later rather than sooner, running a “Like” campaign on Facebook is a good idea, because you can then target those who Liked you with your ads. [No good deed goes unpunished.] Essentially, post stuff on your Page that your target audience will Like, then let Facebook seek out people in the categories you choose to induce them to Like it, using your ad and a Call to Action of “Click on Like.” Well-performing ads will cost about $0.01/person reached and about $0.50- $1.00 per person who Likes the site.

Edison directed me to Create Ads on Facebook. What I wanted to do was get people to go to my “lucrative” coaching site, rather than my message memoir site, as I make less than a dollar per book from selling Ting and I. First, I ran a week of ads which targeted men and women in the U.S. I chose the lowest cost, $5/day. The goal was to get the readers to click on The metrics we followed were cost/reach, usually around a penny a person who saw the ad, and cost/click, which ranged from a half dollar to a few dollars per person who clicked on the link to my website.

Ideally we wanted people who clicked on the site to then fill out our contact form, getting their email address and their expression of interest in writing a book. I tried male only and then female only, with different pictures for each, and used “writing” as an interest. I stuck with targeting people over 50 years of age. I got much the same results with highly local ads as with all-U.S. ads. A Facebook staffer wrote me not to worry too much about optimizing demographic parameters. I learned elsewhere that Facebook does some dynamic adjusting of the targeting as the ad period continues, so understanding exactly what worked and what didn’t is obscured with this “black box,” while it does improve performance.

As it has turned out, most options tried gave us reach at a $0.01/person, with 1% to 2% clicking the site at about, thus $0.50-$1.00 per click. Spending $400 obtained about 4 new coaching clients, thus a cost of $100 per client. “About 4” indicates that how and why they found me was not always clear.

To put it into perspective, my classified ads cost me about twice per writing client as did my Facebook ads. My book site,, cost me only about $100 over four years, has had about 4000 hits, and I have no way to know how many books it sold, but it had to be at most 200.

I viewed the advertising expense as partly an educational expense. Facebook let me see how many potential ad viewers I had for a variety of demographic, geographic and interest parameters. I experimented with different photos [supplied by Facebook] and even different wording. The experiments had to be set up carefully so that only one variable was changed as we went from one ad to the next.

Edison taught me how to add a sense of urgency to the campaigns and how to develop attention-grabbing headlines. I also found on the Internet useful information and tools for generating effective titles and headlines (

I concluded that for high-value enterprises like coaching and consulting, Social Media advertising is worthwhile. For indie authors with books to sell, the price is likely too steep. Your experience may be quite different, and “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”


Excerpted from my Write Your Book with Me, available from Outskirts Press and online booksellers like and

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