You’ve been told that as an author you can’t afford to ignore Facebook with its 3 million followers. So you created a Page and worked hard to gain those “Likes” with compelling content.  You stopped complaining that you had to do double duty with both a personal profile and an Author Page to maintain. You even accepted the changes with the new timeline without much fuss.

Now, Facebook has changed the rules once again. So what is the best practice for an author online? Less than a month ago Facebook’s Edge Rank changed. Your Facebook Page no longer delivers status updates to all of your fans and you may have observed a dramatic fall in your metrics.  You may be wondering what to do now that Facebook expects me to pay for status updates on my Author Page?

What? That’s right. Pay for the privilege of delivering content which has already attracted those who “liked” your Facebook Page and opted into receiving your updates and messages. Hunh? Yup. Shouldn’t surprise anyone who observed the overvalued IPO (Initial Public Offering) of Facebook stock prices.  Disgruntled stockholders push for a return on their investment.

Do you pay attention to the ads on Facebook? Apparently you are not alone in ignoring them. In fact, research demonstrates the percentage of hits on these advertisements which are inadvertent(human error in using the mouse) combined with the reported 80 percent of “bot” hits (robotically programmed spam clicks) is greater than intentional engagement with advertising by the users of Facebook.

In order to generate a profit, Facebook expect Pages to create new advertising revenue from Page administrators. That’s right.  From you, dear author. For each status update on your Page, Facebook now demands $5 to send it to those who have already “liked” your Page; $10 to send it to your fans and friends of fans and $15 to send it to as unsolicited spam.  If you have made the mistake of substituting a Facebook Page for building your own website, it’s time to jump ship before the Titanic sinks.

Authors need to remember the only real estate they own on the internet is their own domain, the URL where they have built a website/blog .  Facebook, Twitter, and most other social media platforms permit authors to be users, not owners, and their terms and conditions for use are subject to change. Authors don’t lose sight of the fact that your goal is to use social media to drive traffic to your own website/blog.

So what’s the strategy for authors on Facebook in terms of best practices given the changes to Pages?

  1. Do not waste your money on paying Facebook for status updates on your Fan Page. There is no demonstrable return on your investment of money or time.
  2. Status updates on your Page should drive traffic to your website and blog. Include links.
  3. Spend more of your Facebook time making your personal profile a professional one.
  4. On your personal profile, toggle the option button in the upper right hand corner where you logout.  You will want to reacquaint yourself with the Account Settings and Privacy Settings of your Facebook account.
  5. When you click on General Account Settings, in the left hand column you will see a vertical menu and the fifth item is Subscribers. Click on this to find Subscribe Settings which allows your personal profile to have subscribers. This option allows people to receive your public posts but not add them as friends. You can have broader conversations about public topics and keep personal updates for friends. You can also block people and report spam on Facebook.
  6. Every time you post a status, photo, or link, you control who sees it and who can comment on it. In the box where you insert your status update there is a blue button next to the Post button that toggles: public, friends, only me, custom, or to one or more of your lists. You have this option every time you post. Anything you set to Public also goes to your subscribers.  You can have an unlimited number of subscribers.  This means that you can use your personal profile on Facebook for your professional and public messages and control your privacy settings.
  7. It’s your account on Facebook book so control how you connect with people. And you may want to limit the audience for all of your past posts and restrict them to Friends. Or you can simply change the privacy setting on any previous message to Friends only, or private, instead of public.
  8. Remember in your news feed that you can toggle the way Facebook sorts your status updates: top stories or most recent. Remember the top stories are “top” according to EdgeRank, an algorithm based on commercial popularity. “Most recent” provides a chronological order of status updates from your friends and those Pages whom you “liked.” Knowing the difference helps contextualize the messages.
  9. If you don’t already have a Facebook Page, don’t bother creating one.
  10. The good news about these changes to Facebook for authors is that your personal profile offers your readers a way to more directly engage with you as a person instead of a commercial promotion Page.

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Ann Marie Ackermann
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Linda J. Spielman
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Carolyn Porter
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Laurel Guy
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Ira Rabois
Rowman & Littlefield, November 2016