Facebook is a social media tool that many authors find helpful for connecting with their readers. Having a strategy and an understanding of how Facebook can work for an author is important to seeing any return on your investment of time.
Who should use Facebook?
You need to consider using Facebook if your target audience uses Facebook. There are 1.11 billion users of Facebook, so there is a good chance some of your readers are there. You might doubt your target readers are on Facebook. That might be true. If you are writing a picture book you know that 18 month olds are not active on Facebook. However, your readers aren’t your only customers, are they? Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, day care providers, preschool teachers, child psychologists, pediatricians, and other adults buy picture books. Are they are Facebook? You betcha. So you might do well to re-think using Facebook effectively to connect with your target audience. It is a great tool if you are just beginning to build an audience platform; which should start a year before you submit a book proposal and two years before the publication date. Don’t wait to begin building an audience platform until after your book is written or published.
Why should an author use Facebook?
Facebook is based on social relations: friends and family primarily, popular culture, current events, humor, entertainment, political and social news. Facebook is premised on the kinds of social relations and interactions that naturally occur face-to-face. It is your network of friends and family, clients, fans, colleagues, vendors and more. These informal networks can become the basis of a strong audience platform. For an author, Facebook is the closest thing to word-of-mouth advertising which cannot be bought. If a friend posts about a book they are reading or have read, it adds weight to the consumer’s choice.
Do you need a Facebook Page?
Pages are different than Personal Profiles. Individual users have their own personal ‘Profile’ and network by ‘Friending’ those whom they know. Facebook Pages are created by businesses, nonprofit organizations, private groups and some government agencies. They do not have ‘Friends’ but those who ‘Like’ them. Your favorite restaurant, music group, movie star, local farmer, author, artist, or political group may have its own Page. So do you need an author Facebook Page?
Probably not; unless you have previously published and have already created an audience platform. If you’re just getting started, Facebook requires you begin with a personal profile before you can create a Page. Start with a Personal Profile and work it for at least six months before you contemplate an Author Page on Facebook. Eventually, you may have one or more Facebook Pages. But that’s when you’re a bestselling author of a series of books and have a publicity machine working for you. For now, start with what you can easily manage.
Current (July 2013) Best Practices for Authors on Facebook
- Use your Personal Profile and ignore the push for a Facebook Page. For now.
- If you’re already established on Facebook, you may notice authors who do have Facebook Pages and even Pages created for specific book titles. Some may even have Pages managed by fan groups. Many authors created their Pages prior to the IPO (initial public offering) which turned Facebook into a publicly traded stock on Wall Street. Since that time the pressure to demonstrate a profit has led to the monetization of Pages. Facebook now expects Page users to pay for their posts to be promoted. While this makes sense for McDonald’s, Ford, or Monsanto, it leaves small businesses, including literary artists, in the lurch. Authors who created Facebook Pages prior to 2012 have found little return for the time invested. This is true for musicians, small businesses, and especially authors. Until Facebook changes its priority to monetize Pages, we recommend you leave the launch of your Facebook Page until the month before publication of your book. Although, if you reach 5,000 Friends, Facebook requires you to create a Page.
- If you are an author who already has a Facebook Page, how can you best maximize your time? Avoid bombarding your best friends with your marketing messages in a megaphone fashion. Sharing your Page status updates on your Personal Profile can leave some of your friends feeling like you are pushing instead of pulling people to what you have to say, share, endorse, and what you have found of value. Managing Pages and a Personal Profile has its ups and downs. If you are struggling with these issues it may be worth an hour or two of consultation with the team at Swenson Book Development llc to make this work optimally for your book project.
- Once a book is scheduled for release, creating a Facebook Page for the book itself makes sense. Pages are for commercial ventures and this separates you the author from the product for sale. Growing an organic following means you need to pull people to your writing. Besides organic, there are viral and paid followings. Wish upon a star and take lessons in social media marketing for that viral post you dream of as a writer. Don’t pay for followers, ever. Gaming the algorithms or scamming the system does not work. Using any social media tool as a megaphone to sell your book will fall flat. Social media involves engagement and dialogue, i.e. a two-way conversation. Paying to promote or boost your posts won’t help you in the long run. Especially on Facebook. Data indicates users do not like the advertising and blatant marketing because it misses the point of social conversation. Choose a different social media tool to promote your book title such as GoodReads, where readers welcome news about forthcoming titles.
- Make your Personal Profile on Facebook ‘public’ and learn about your privacy settings for status updates. This makes all your posts available to an anonymous public through search engines, so you’ll want to switch to public settings with caution.