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Facebook is important to your marketing strategy, but don’t use Facebook to sell books.

Facebook is an online site that extends your social networks beyond face-to-face interaction. Despite the IPO (initial public offering) of Facebook and many attempts to monetize the site, most users ignore commercial advertising on the site. Don’t think of Facebook as a megaphone to try to sell your books or you’ll find yourself with fewer Friends. Your personal profile it is about being authentic, personal, and sociable. It’s not about self-promotion and marketing.  It’s about conversations and engagement with others socially.

In the years before Facebook, aspiring authors joined the Rotary or Lions  Club, participated in a bowling league, attended church suppers, served on the board of a local non-profit, volunteered at the library, and did a lot of glad-handing to make themselves known to others. Facebook allows an author to become known to others while working at their desk.

An author uses Facebook to build communities and connections, to learn and share news, information, notices about community events, endorse products or services, and drive traffic to their website and blog. Facebook connects readers and writers on a level playing field.  If you’re writing on a nonfiction subject, offer your expertise and wisdom in your comments. Reply to questions posted by your friends. Writing memoir? Comment when other people share their stories that resonate with yours. Fiction? Share your enthusiasm for reading good books.

When you leave a comment on your favorite writer/artist/band’s page, how do you feel when they respond to YOUR comment? Do you find it more satisfying to engage in the back and forth between friends in dialogue than to click on posted links? That’s real engagement. That’s what you want to offer those who engage with you on Facebook as your friend.

Facebook is about relationships.

Adding new friends and friends of friends who share common interests, backgrounds, values, and books expands your network of social relations.  If you are just beginning on Facebook, start by Friending your family members who you know are already on Facebook. Then Friend your friends who have a Facebook profile. Before long, Facebook will make recommendations of people whom you might know to Friend. You can also search for people you know by typing a name into the search bar. Invite people to be your Friend; don’t wait for them to find you. Even if you’ve been on Facebook since it launched, at least once a week extend your reach by adding new Friends. 

You are on Facebook to expand your online social circles. In your personal profile you are more than a writer. Being the author of your book is one of the things that defines your online persona for Facebook. Not the only thing. You might be into ornithology and incorporated birds as a narrative thread in your novel, so it makes sense to share your enthusiasm on Facebook.  Those who share your status updates about birds might be interested in reading your novel when it comes out.  Before your book is submitted to a publisher, you’ll want hundreds, even thousands, of friends to be your advocates when your book launches. As your friends, they’ll be invested in seeing you succeed and they will share with those they know will be interested in your book when it does become available for purchase.

Facebook is about engagement and conversation, not just reading. It’s important to post status updates, comment on others’ posts, share,  and Like them. You want to get people talking with you, so give them something interesting to talk about. Interaction is key.

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