Lessons learned with regards to social media promotions: TL;DR We suck
Now that Torchbearer #2 is out on Red Stylo, iBookstore and Amazon Kindle (which you wouldn’t know from our website, as we still need to fix that bug (and the two “issue 1” bugs (and yes, these are nested parenthesis))), it’s take to get back into the marketing and promotion cycle for Torchbearer.
It’s also time to make some announcements. First off, we’ve decided to not print single issue comics for the time being. Simply put, if we want to keep making comic books and exist in the long run, we need to rethink how we distribute our print comics. And, simply put, at this stage in the game, it doesn’t make sense. Because we have such a low volume of print sales, the return on them doesn’t justify the costs involved.
So, we’ve reshuffled our priorities and decided that we will combine three issues at a time into one trade issue. This trade issue will also have some behind-the-scenes information on how the comics were made, some additional information on characters, locations and other bits of information which will not be available on the digital version of the comics. This also means that we will be printing twice a year, instead of six, while at the same time we are still releasing Torchbearer every two months on our digital markets. Our goal is that by issue 12, we will be ready two switch to a monthly schedule.
Now, onto social media. The great folks at Graphicly sent us over the holidays a nice thank-you package that included a free digital conversion. As Torchbearer 2 was right around the corner, we were extremely grateful for the opportunity to use it. More importantly, we thought it would be a great opportunity to use the cash set aside for the Graphicly conversion to buy some ads. We decided to do this in part to understand how to go about the whole process of buying ads, how to target them, generate them and, more importantly, we wanted to raise awareness of Torchbearer.
First off, we ran an ad for Odd Truth’s page. It was a simple boilerplate ad that Facebook provided. We ran the ad for two days, each day had a budget of $15.00, shown in the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Australia… even Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands. As soon as we discovered the precision by which we could target our ad (seriously, we could run an ad specifically tailored to elderly tech adopters who love Android and hate WebOS. That’s the kind of precision we’re talking about here), we took advantage of it: targeting men, women, suspense/thriller enthusiasts who like science fiction and other groups.
When we started the ad, we had 50-ish users who liked our page.
Once it ended, we got 676 likes in total.
We had 176,960 users who saw the ad, of which 841 clicked through to see it. Out of these, 587 pressed the like button. And the majority of these people came from:
Specifically, Mexico City, followed by Guadalajara. New Yorkers came in 5th and we even got fans coming in from Ghana, Pakistan and Ecuador: places we didn’t even target!
Awash with what we perceived to be success, we bought some ads on Facebook that featured the cover of Torchbearer 2, with a short text that mentioned our artist, Dennis Calero, and that it was available now. We ran the same ad twice, each time changing where it pointed to. The first time it ran pointing to Torchbearer on Red Stylo while the second time it ran pointing to our Graphicly link. Both ads ran on the same budget ($40.00 each day) and were targeted to the same demographics.
In total, we had 3,318 click-throughs out of 1.8 million people who saw the ad. And in total we’ve sold:
Yeah, I know. Pretty disheartening figures. But there are lessons to be learned here for what makes or doesn’t make for a good ad campaign.
1) To get people interested in your ad, you have to evoke a reaction. This is the same on Twitter, Reddit or any social media. If you want something to become popular, make sure it elicits a reaction (whether it’s good or bad).
2) If you’re going to ask for someone’s money, you have to do it FAST! Otherwise, they’ll regret and not follow through. That’s why single-click purchases are SO powerful. It facilitates impulse buys so easily.
3) Don’t try to sell with an ad. Exposure trumps sales in social media, and to get people aware of what you can offer is more important than trying to secure a sale at that precise moment.
4) Repetition, repetition, repetition. The great thing about buying ad space is that they constantly expose your ad to customers. Over, and over and over. If you’re willing to invest the time to re-post your promotional material during the day, while at the same time rewriting it so that it comes across as new and fresh, the only added benefit an ad in a social network provides is reach and exposure. If you have an extensive social network, you may not need to buy an ad.
5) If you’re going to buy an ad, invest as much as you can into it. Don’t go cheap if you can afford not to be.
Well, those are the insights that we’ve learned with our recent experiment. It seems disheartening, sure, but we met our goals: we learned how the system works. And now, when the trade comes out, we’ll be ready.