My Tale of Boosting a Facebook Post (Spoiler: I Survived)
A Case Study
Many authors I know are hesitant to spend money on Facebook advertising. Without a clear correlation between ads and sales, it can be hard to shell out cash when you don’t know if you’ll see a return on your investment.
The problem with that mindset is that it’s short-term thinking. If readers don’t know you even exist, the path between getting in front of them and making a sale is longer and more difficult—but not impossible.
Ads can bridge that gap, turning you from an unknown to a known quantity. While a boosted post may not lead to sales during the period your ad is running, it can spark the beginning of a relationship, and that’s a great first step toward creating excited readers and fans who buy.
My Facebook Boosted Post Story
I decided to boost my first Facebook post after my series bundle, The Hunted, was featured in The Huffington Post, along with 11 other books by indie authors. I posted about it on my Facebook page, but figured it was the perfect opportunity to test out boosted posts, too.
My goal was pretty simple: Try. I didn’t expect sales from the boosted post—I didn’t even really know what to expect. Thanks to a share or two, I already had good visibility on the post, so I spent $10 boosting my post to an even larger pool of people. I tested an audience, and now comes the time to analyze how it all went down.
I targeted females between the ages of 18 and 50 living in the United States. I further narrowed down my audience by targeting the interests “reading,” “urban fantasy,” or “Shatter Me.”
The age is cut off at 50 not because people older than 50 won’t enjoy my books, but because I wanted to avoid primarily reaching family members and people of my parents’ generation, who tend to be primarily cheerleaders of my work instead of readers who will help me develop my fanbase. (Sorry, Mom!)
While there are plenty of male readers of urban fantasy, I’m in the process of changing my author brand to a woman-centric genre (romance), and wanted to make sure people viewing my post were the best possible candidates to be interested not just in my book, but in me as an author.
I chose “Shatter Me” (a young-adult dystopian book) as part of my targeting because a couple reviewers have compared it to Elusive Memories, the first book of my series. Choosing older readers (between 18 and 50) helps capture the adults reading YA—the same type of voracious reader who hops between multiple genres.
With my $10, the boosted post reached 1,271 people and received 32 engagements, giving me a cost of $0.31 per engagement. According to our social media expert, Katie Bolin, anything under $0.80 per engagement is ideal. (Woo hoo!)
Of the engagements, there were six link clicks, 24 post likes, one comment, and one share. These represent only the engagements from people who came in from the boosted post; the post had other interactions before I boosted it originally.
What’s interesting with the demographics is that while more people from the age group 18-24 were shown the ad, they were harder to convert to an engagement. (The cost per engagement for the 18-24 age group was $0.43.) The most engaged group was 25-34 with $0.14 per engagement. The 35-44 age group was the hardest to convert, at $0.83. The 45-54 age group was a little better, at $0.35 per engagement.
The vast majority of my boosted posts were placed in the mobile news feed—almost 97 percent. No placement in the desktop right column or on Instagram, as neither was selected for this boosted post.
What I Learned from Boosting My Post
Boosting Facebook posts isn’t as terrifying as many think. You’re even able to pay for the boosted post through PayPal, which was a lot nicer (for me, at least) than entering credit card information.
The biggest takeaway from this experiment was the placement of the boosted post. It’s skewed heavily toward the mobile news feed, which brings up larger implications for how people use social media. If this boosted post was delivered in the mobile news feed because more people use the mobile news feed, then making sure all posts, boosted or not, have been optimized for mobile is incredibly important.
In addition to a lot of views on my boosted post, other posts on my Facebook page had an increased organic reach. That means what’s currently on my page has to provide value when I run ads or boost posts. If people click through to my page, what greets them will be key in determining whether they want to stick around or not.
Boosting a post is less about making sales and more about engaging people. My post was delivered to people who already like my page, but don’t frequently visit. Having them engage with my post increases the chance that they will see (and engage with) future posts.
And for anyone interested about whether I made sales: Yes, I did, but there’s no way to know whether those sales came from my boosted post or visitors who came to the Huffington Post article another way. That doesn’t devalue my boosted post; combined efforts and continued exposure to the right people will result in sales, but there’s no single, guaranteed marketing activity that will help increase sales.
It’s about building momentum. People have to see something multiple times before they purchase it. My experience boosting posts is just the beginning. I will advertise again, and multiple times, probably around my next book release. But before going any further with ads—that is, spending any more money—my next step is to develop an advertising strategy so that I’m using my money as efficiently as possible.
Amanda Shofner satisfies her desire for adventure with the written word and helps others do the same. Currently writing romantic suspense.