Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Experimenting With Facebook Ads

Good morning, and welcome to my new blog, Art Shop Talk!  I'm Tiffany Toland-Scott, a professional fantasy, gothic, and surreal artist.  I'm always finding things I want to share with other artists, but I never know exactly where to share it, so I thought I would start this blog.  Let's jump right in this morning with something that is on a lot of artists' minds: Facebook ads.

Back in 2010 when I first created my fan page, I had between 100 and 200 fans, but they were all friends I had invited to "like" my page.  I wanted to use my page to gain new fans and a wider audience, but asking my friends to share it wasn't working very well.  I decided to create my first Facebook ad.  The process use to be fairly simple.  You uploaded an image, wrote some text that would make people want to click the picture, set a budget, and submitted your ad.  If it didn't violate Facebook's guidelines it would be accepted and within a few hours you would see whether your ad was working or not.

It took a lot of tweaking before I figured out which images worked the best.  By trying several different images, I was able to find the one that yielded the highest click through rate, or CTR.  For the first year or so my budget was around $.30 per 1,000 impressions.  My CTR was way above Facebook's average, and I could easily gain upwards of 400 fans a day for just a few dollars.

As Facebook has tweaked their advertisement system over the years, along with their news feed algorithm, things have changed.  Impressions are much more expensive, between $1.50 and $3 per 1,000 impressions.  Clicks are also very expensive, usually starting at $.35 and going up from there.  I have even tried Facebook's optimized ads, which Facebook promises to optimize to get as many people to click on them as possible before your budget is exhausted.  I've had the least luck with those.  In a full day, my optimized ad was clicked 3 times, which cost me $5, and netted me 0 new fans.  Compare that to the thousands of clicks a day I used to get with impressions, and it's pretty dismal.

Facebook has also introduced the ability to "boost" posts by paying for them to appear in news feeds.  I'm on the fence about the morality of this one.  On one hand, they told me four years ago that my page was free and a free way to reach my fans - for free.  Now I understand that it costs money to run Facebook, and that if I wanted to run an ad I should have to pay for it.  But I can no longer reach my fans for free like Facebook once promised.

That said, when the feature was first introduced Facebook sent me a credit to try it and I did.  The results were pathetic.  My other non-boosted posts received more interaction and were viewed by more people than my boosted post.  In fact, without running advertisements and just by asking my fans to share my art to spread the word, I gained over 80k fans in 6 months.  I also did giveaways which worked really well for me.

Recently I noticed that only 4-5% of my fans were even seeing my posts, sometimes only 1-2%.  I didn't know what to do to reach them, so I tried boosting again.  This time it worked.  I posted a link to my Kickstarter project and with half my budget spent twice as many people saw the link and actually clicked it - and pledged - than the last link I had posted to my Kickstarter.  The new ads system still has a long way to go to being as effective as Facebook's original system in my opinion, but it's getting better.

Tomorrow I'll post about what types of images work the best for advertisements.

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