29 Sep Confirming My Identity with Facebook
Reaching Potential Readers
As I continue to seek ways to market and promote my writing, I’ve started experimenting with Facebook ads. That’s how I ended up being required to confirm my identity.
I created an author page, Katherine P. Stillerman Author, where I share information about my books, post new blogs, and connect with other authors and readers. Then, I set up a business account under Ads Manager, listed in the column to the left of the feed on the Home page.
One of my goals is to reach more potential readers with my posts. I want to drive traffic to my website, where readers will find out more about my books, as well as a link to purchase.
I’ve found a good way to do this is to pay Facebook to Boost a post. As for all types of Facebook ads, I can set my own budget and decide how long the ad will run. Once my budget is spent, Facebook automatically notifies me to ask if I want to renew the ad or terminate it.
Targeting My Audience
Facebook has a vast, worldwide audience. They will allow me to target the boosts by interest, location, age, and gender. Not everybody is interested in my genre and the topics on which I write. For that reason, I might target people I assume would read my books, like women over 25, who like historical fiction written by authors like Sara Gruen, who live in the United States.
Facebook offers excellent analytics for each ad/boost. It reports data, such as how many people I reached, how many clicked on the link, how many engaged with the post, and how many page likes I received. I can tweak the ad at any point during the campaign–for example include men and women, or expand or narrow the location–according to the data.
I’m still new to the process, but I’ve discovered that boosted posts reach a significantly greater number of people than un-boosted ones. Normally, my posts reach 10-30 people. Boosted posts range from 374 to 704. Plus, I get data to tell me precisely who these people are demographically. That helps me target interested readers and do a better job of marketing.
Approval of Ads
Once I establish the target audience, I click the blue button, Boost Post, located to the right of the post. I’ll immediately get a notice that Facebook is reviewing the request and will let me know if it’s approved. That usually happens within a couple of hours, although the notice says up to twenty-four.
I usually boost my post for three days, at a budget of $5.00. If the post does really well, I may press the Boost Again button and run the ad for an additional three days. There’s nothing scientific about my process. I’m just trying to learn what works without spending too much of my budget.
Facebook had always approved my ads in less than two hours. That is until I tried to boost my book review of Bob Woodward’s Fear. Shortly after I clicked the Boost button, I got an e-mail notifying me
Your ad isn’t approved because it doesn’t comply with our Advertising Policies. You can click the ad name below to see why it wasn’t approved and edit the ad to have it reviewed again.
Issue of National Importance Political Content
When I clicked on the ad name, I got the following message:
Your ad was not approved because we determined it is related to politics or an issue of national importance political content and requires your disclaimer.
I was shocked to learn that my book review would be considered politically sensitive. And then I realized I’d been caught in the net created by Facebook to prevent some of the problems that occurred during the 2016 presidential election, during which Russian groups purchased Facebook ads with the intent of sowing political discord.
Confirming my Identity
As I read on, I discovered that Facebook requires people who want to run “ads related to politics or issues of national importance” to confirm their identity. The purpose is to “increase the transparency and authenticity of our ads, and know more about who’s paying for them.”
So I decided, what the heck! I’ll go ahead and confirm my identity with Facebook. I don’t want anybody to think I’m trying to sow political discord.
Buried deeper in the Facebook tutorial on ads related to politics or issues of national importance, is an explanation of the ad authorization process, listed by country. For the United States, the process requires the submission of personal information to help Facebook confirm identity. Required documents are either a US driver’s license or a US passport. I submitted a picture of my driver’s license since my passport has expired. I also had to enter the last four digits of my SS number.
To further establish identity, Facebook required me to submit my address to their security team. They would then mail me a code to use in completing the identification process. It took almost a week for the letter to arrive in the mail. Meanwhile, I got impatient.
I Appeal My Disapproval
Then, I noticed that there was an appeal process, which involved explaining why I disagreed with the decision to disapprove my ad. I decided to submit an appeal.
In the space provided, I explained that I was just boosting my blog post, a review of a best-selling book, to drive traffic to my website. I said I am an American citizen who has lived for over thirty years in the same house in Winton-Salem NC. I said that I write blogs related to politics about 20% of the time, most of those being nonfiction book reviews. The other 80% is about my life as an author, the writing process, and other things that interest me. Facebook reviewed the appeal and promptly approved the ad.
The next day, I received the letter with the code, which I entered on www.facebook.com/id and completed the identification process. Facebook confirmed my identity. Now I can boost posts about national issues of public importance. Whew! Glad we got that cleared up, because, according to the list below, there are quite a few of them.
Top Level Issues Requiring Authorization
These are the top-level issues that Facebook lists as requiring advertiser authorization and labeling for ads targeting the US.
- civil rights
- foreign policy
- government reform
- social security
I suppose on some level I’m happy that Facebook is taking these precautions. I approve of anything that stops the sowing of discord and Russian interference in the election process!
But when Facebook disapproved my ad for promoting an innocent book review, I felt like the little old lady who got pulled over on her way to church for going 35 in a 25 mile zone. She rolled down her window and wagged her finger at the policeman.
“Why don’t you quit wasting your time and go out and stop a real criminal,” she scolded.
It seems sometimes the rules exist to punish the innocent.
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