PSA: Facebook Advertising

Feb 10, 2014 | Alerts


UPDATE: Added a follow-up here.

For reference, for every author who is considering buying advertising on Facebook – please watch this video first.

Long story short, it’s a complete waste of your money. If you’re considering Facebook advertising as part of your book marketing, remove it immediately. From this point on, we can consider the mechanics of Facebook to be detrimental to actual promotion, due to the way it filters and restricts what users see. Unless you’ve got solid data to show that Facebook advertising is producing sales for you, don’t even spend time on the platform, let alone money.

facebook advertising

A brief summary, for anyone who can’t watch the video and wants to know what’s up:

There are two ways of getting Facebook Likes – paying FB for promoted posts and advertising, and paying clickfarms for fake Likes (which isn’t allowed). Obviously paying Facebook is the way to do it if you want to get legit Likes, right?

Wrong. Here’s what you need to know.

Clickfarms don’t just like the stuff they’re being paid to like. They like all kinds of pages for free in order to mask the paid likes, so Facebook can’t detect and block them.

When users like a page, it’s not a guarantee that everything posted to the page will be seen by them. Whether it is or not depends on the organic reach – the more some number of users like and share a thing, the more it’ll be seen by other users. If you want something to be seen by all of them, you have to pay.

So here’s the cycle:

  • You pay for advertising on Facebook to get likes.
  • Clickfarms click on your ads and like your page as part of their normal operations to mask their own paid likes.
  • Facebook gets paid once.
  • You share a post in order to get people to your website. Facebook shows the post to a percentage of the people who liked your page initially.
  • That percentage includes a large number of clickfarm likes that are completely uninterested in whatever you just posted and will never share it.
  • Your organic reach drops through the floor as fewer real users get a chance to see your post – lost in the noise, as it were.
  • The number of people who see your post remains embarrassingly low, even though you have more likes than you did before.
  • You scratch your head, wonder what you’re doing wrong, and then pay Facebook to promote your post to more people.
  • Facebook gets paid twice.


We need to see how this plays out. For now, Facebook ads should not be part of any marketing campaign for your books. Focus on getting real followers that will not be arbitrarily restricted, through newsletters if nothing else.