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Facebook Love

Anna Fox on reuniting with Facebook Ads.

Facebook. It’s a love-hate relationship. Sometimes I love it. I get to see what old friends are doing with their lives in far flung parts of the planet. Layla likes travelling and she’s in South Africa. Emma has already read Emilie Pine’s book that everyone’s talking about. Susan is doing a course in creative writing and Juliet’s eldest son is ridiculously handsome and off to university to study engineering.

Then I hate it. Because said friends are leading glamorous, successful lives and their children are simultaneously high-achieving and happy, while I’m at home, staring at them all on a screen wishing my life was brilliant like theirs.

Facebook isn’t Instagram. You can’t post pictures of yourself doing ordinary things like cooking the dinner, doing the laundry, or walking the dog, and anyway, I’m not young enough to feel un-self conscious about taking selfies, especially with no make up on. A lot of the time, and certainly amongst my late 40s age group, Facebook posts are more like extracts from a family album. They’re photos of you and your family looking well and having a nice time, or marking a special/exciting/my-life-doesn’t-suck event.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? The FB newsfeed is made up of pretty pictures of friends (and friends of friends, because apparently they’re friends too) sharing ‘my brilliant life.’ It’s never ‘my rubbish life’ because, lets face it, who wants to know about that? I only ever once saw a post which read, ‘Help! I’m climbing the walls!’ and I didn’t know if it was serious because people don’t usually post about their real-life warts ‘n all problems. Then I read an article about reducing social media anxiety (yes, there is such a term) and learned that to minimise feelings of jealousy, you should write a post as opposed to simply scrolling through others.

That’s when I decided it was time to step away, and I started to do things differently. When my children did cool stuff I felt proud of, I shared the picture with immediate family on WhatsApp. And when I did cool stuff I was proud of, I did a little dance in my kitchen.

Around that time, I began to write a book with the intention of publishing it myself. I had published and edited an anthology called Storytellers the previous year with an independent publishing company, but now I wanted to learn how to do it myself. I started my research, only to discover that the publishing part was just the tip of the iceberg. If I wanted to actually sell books, I needed to learn how to market them…I’ve been learning ever since.

A few weeks ago I received a promo video about advertising for self publishers and found that one of the best places to yields results, was Facebook. Why? Because it is the most targeted advertising you can do. Facebook knows that Emma read that Emilie Pine book and Susan is doing that creative writing course, and it can serve that information back upto you with the specific purpose of reaching an exact target market. I wanted to try it immediately but needed to write more marketing material for the book before I promoted it. So I decided to experiment with my other hat on – my Dalkey Creates Artistic Director’s hat – and to promote the Dalkey Writing Prizes instead.

Carefully, I set up the ad using the Ads Manager. I wanted this competition to go global so set it to be viewed in English speaking countries around the world. Ireland, the UK, India, Canada, Australia…the list goes on and all at the click of a button. But what about the ex-pats living in places like France and Italy…and Japan? I added them in. I specified the interests of my target market: writing competitions. I set the places where they would view the ad: n a box to the side, in the newsfeed on their mobile phone. I set the price: 5 euros a day. I hit publish.

Two weeks later and dalkeycreates.com has had nearly 3000 hits from countries all over the world, including the non-English speaking ones. At the time of writing we’re still three weeks away from the competition deadline, but I have a good feeling we’re going to see entries from places we would never have reached without Facebook. Writers from anywhere in the world, who’ve never had the opportunity before, can now enter a competition in Ireland with a chance of winning €1000 and getting published. 

Facebook. It’s love all over again.

by Anna Fox, Producer, Dalkey Creates Festival.


The Dalkey Short Story Prize and the ALL-NEW Dalkey Poetry Prize at Dalkey Creates, in partnership with Books Ireland, is open for submissions.

Prize fund of €1000 for each category.

The closing date for submissions is midnight, Sunday 6th October, 2019. Entry costs €15. Please read the rules and information carefully.