by Lyndon Baptiste
I like giving away books more than I like the idea of spending money on advertising because I believe if a product is good enough it will sell itself. But in December 2012, for Potbake’s fourth birthday, we decided to offer free ebooks and spend no more than USD 100.00 advertising the offering. It sounds strange right: Avertising something that’s free? But I’ve since learnt that not because something is free means people will know about it. Imagine you’re in the grocery and you walk along all the aisles except the one where they happen to be giving out free samples of a wine or snack you really want to taste.
So, we had an offer and we knew our max budget, but I didn’t have a plan except to run the ads on Facebook and Google and share posts, tweets and pictures on Google+, Twitter and Instagram on the actual days of the offering. When I mentioned this to dad, he gave me something to think about: do movies just show up one day in the cinema? I thought about it and two weeks before I created an article on potbake.com promoting the offering (which turned out to be a great thing because as it turns out advertising an external URL on Facebook was a lot cheaper than an actual Facebook post; compare USD 0.05 to USD 0.65). We shared the link on the different channels we mentioned, got Retweets, Likes, Shares and +1s. Randy Baker was kind enough to post an article on the 15 December mentioning the free books. Then we scheduled campaigns on Facebook and Google with ads that linked to our website article rather than the links to the books on Amazon.com. This was important in terms of measuring the traffic the campaigns generated. If you’re an author or publisher it’s a pretty good idea to have a website, Facebook Page, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest account. This isn’t vanity and there’s no need to daily slave after maintaining these accounts, but you need to connect with as many people possible. I went along with no clear plan but hopefully the madness might make sense. The first step was to enrol the book in Amazon’s KDP Select which facilitates 5 days of free promotion and allows Select Members to borrow the book for free.
Advertising on Facebook
The first thing I learnt is that you can’t advertise to the people of the world. You need to have some idea of who might be interested, what’s their age, where are they from. For example, I needed to advertise to folks who have some interest in an Amazon Kindle. But registering that interest to the world may yield a result in the millions so I targeted the people of the Caribbean interested in Amazon.com, the Kindle or Kindle Fire. Note: If the books were for sale, I wouldn’t have advertised to people with these interests between the ages of 13 and 17. While they might be interested, they would have less buying power. But the books were free. I included teenagers. Figure 1 shows that an audience of 105,580 from the Caribbean fit this profile.
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