Monday, April 15, 2013

The Dollars and Sense of Facebook

Those of us that  are trying to make our mark on the world, however small and in whatever arena, owe it to ourselves to understand the  best ways to make that mark in this new digital age.  If our goals are to impart information or persuade or discuss ideas, we have to know how to get those ideas in front of the  biggest collection of eyeballs.  That is crucial, because if all we do  is talk to each other, as entertaining as that may be, it doesn't  expand the greater cause.  so in the interest of helping  the little  guys out there like myself, I'm going to try to be a  bit transparent and tell you what has and has not worked for  me.
  I talked in an earlier post about  when I wrote and self-published my book.The  real problem with self-publishing is that the onus for all promotion falls on your shoulders.  As much as I  lament the gatekeepers, one thing they are good at is  letting you know what it is that they are promoting.   I'm not.  As a result, we had no idea how to get the word out. 
    I started out by emailing  people I knew to let them know the book was available. That got us a smidgen of traction.  I wrote to very clever people and asked them to review the book, although my approaches were probably quite amateurish. I gave books away ,another advantage to the digital age. Some people while admitting that they were too busy to review the book, offered some great advice and  did spread the word a bit.   Some people reviewed the book and said very nice things to people in their sphere of influence.  That gave us a bit more traction.  Some people  said absolutely nothing, but people are busy, so that's ok.
  My wife has a Facebook account that  is linked to her hairbow business and  another business venture of ours, so we put the word out in that area, letting all of her  list of contacts know about the book.  That didn't really didn't  get  us anywhere. I  think  the issue  was an issue of demographics. Hairbow customers , who are mostly moms, probably weren't my  target audience.
  We started a FB page dedicated to the book, and invited people we knew to join the page.  That went really pretty much nowhere.  I had  done a couple of radio shows  during this time and had seen a modicum of sales success from that, so I decided to go ahead and pay for an ad with Facebook.
  Now  if you're not familiar with how this works, it's pretty simple. FB allows you to  do a little ad that will run on the sidebar of people's pages.  The more money you spend, the more  people will see the ad. In addition to that, you can   target your audience to people that are already interested in things you re advertising.  For example, I targeted people that had liked Ron Paul pages, as well as  Lew Rockwell stuff, Mises Institute stuff, etc.  I  had $500 budgeted and for that, FB claimed I  could reach   several hundred thousand people. So far , so good, right?
  This has been a learning experience for me, so it might as well be a learning experience for you.  As you can see from this screen shot, I  had spent a  little over 50 bucks at this point, and 30,000 people had seen my ad, some of them more than once. From that, I got 120 'likes'. During that time period I sold less books than at any time. The simple fact is that  a 'like' on  FB cannot be traced to sales, at least not as far as I can tell.  Each of those likes cost me  44 cents a piece. That's the bad news.

  The good news is this; the way I used the page wasn't so much to sell books because after all, if you want to get rich selling books, the liberty movement might not be for you. The idea is to use a platform like this  the same way Dr. Paul used the platform of his  Congressional office; to  educate and inform. So  instead of 'hey  buy my book' I started posting  relevant  liberty related news items from  LRC and other places. This prompted discussions among people who were  watching the page, and that led them to pass the page along to their friends and relatives. It's is slowly growing in a very organic way. Now, has it been worth it? It may be  too early to tell. I've met some interesting people through this endeavor that have given me information I wish I had access to while researching my  work, but  better late than never, right?
  Ok, so here's what I've learned.
1) tell everybody you know
2)ask them to tell everybody they know
3) recruit clever people. be nice, and not a clown.
4) social media is not the gold mine they tell you it is. if anyone could make things go viral on purpose, everybody would.
5)social media is not  a lost cause though, you just have to know  WHY you're doing it
6) it aint over till the fat lady sings.

  So that's  what I've learned. I hope it's a help to somebody. If anybody has  figured out this Gordian knot of marketing, i'd be  gald to hear all about it.
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