by Victoria Bennion
Your publisher may have suggested Facebook marketing as a way to connect with your readers. If you’re not yet published you can use Facebook to begin to network and build an audience for when the time comes. You don’t have to wait until your book is about to launch. In fact we’d urge to get started on Facebook as soon as possible.
If you’re new to Facebook then you need to know that essentially a profile is your personal account on Facebook where you can connect with friends and a page is a business account. You can’t have a Facebook page without first setting up a profile.
You don’t have to set up a Facebook page. In fact, if you’re not published yet you might be happy to network and connect with people via your profile.
I worked with a well-known children’s author whose publisher suggested she start using Facebook to connect with her readers. She wasn’t interested in spending a lot of time using Facebook so I helped her set up a profile which she felt she could manage more easily than a page.
If you already use your profile for your various endeavours and aren’t concerned about privacy then using your profile could be the best way to go. Author Matt Haig uses his Facebook profile successfully instead of a page. Note how he's used the cover of his most recent book for his cover photo and a clear photo of himself with a cute dog as his profile image.
If you’ve decided that Facebook marketing through your profile is the best option for you then turn on the Follow feature in your profile settings. That way people can follow your profile and see the posts you make public. You do still have the option to make posts private so that only your friends can see them, not your followers.
Check your privacy settings. There may be information that you don’t want available to the whole of the web for security reasons or other such as your date of birth.
You should use your own name for your Facebook profile but in practice people don’t always. I have a friend who is always changing her name. Currently she’s Happy Days. Another one of my friends set her profile up in the name of Dorothy Gale. Facebook will only shut you down if there’s a complaint.
A benefit of using your profile is that you can tag people in your photographs, something you can’t do on a Facebook page.
If you primarily use Facebook to chat to your friends, share photos of your baby, ask who fancies a trip to the pub tonight or to find out if anyone knows about anything about the letter Johnny brought home in his bag today hang fire. A Facebook page might be best for your marketing endeavours so that you can keep your private and professional lives separate.
I briefly worked for an organisation who pressed everyone to use their Facebook profiles for business, to make as many friends as possible, to make posts public and to post at least three times a day. You can probably imagine how that went down. I was being unfollowed left, right and centre.
Plus, I was so uncomfortable with the fact that anyone and everyone could view my profile, pictures of my birthday, pictures of my children... Did I say I only worked for them briefly?
From this experience, I learned it can be a good idea to set up Facebook pages for your different interests. You can still invite all your friends to like your page and also build wider fans without worrying about your personal information being in the public domain. Plus Facebook pages can also be viewed by non-Facebook users which means they’ll reach a wider audience.
You can set up pages under whichever name you choose without worrying about breaking any rules. If you’re an author using a pseudonym this is helpful.
Facebook pages have greater functions. You can schedule updates, access data about your audience through Insights which is helpful as part of an overall marketing campaign.
You can only have up to 5,000 friends on your Facebook profile whereas there’s no limit on likes for a Facebook page.
If other people are helping you with your marketing efforts you can give them different levels of access to your page without them needing to log on to your personal profile. When I’ve worked with businesses and authors I always prefer this option. It saves a lot of hassle and worry for clients.
The major downside to pages is that Facebook does not show updates to everyone who likes your page which is hugely frustrating especially if you don’t want to pay to promote your page or have a limited budget.
The idea of your page and profile is to enable you to communicate with your readers and potential readers, so post material you think will be of interest to your audience. Be real (but not too real – see word of warning at the end.) You don’t have to present a perfect image, some vulnerability is good.
Photos and videos do well on Facebook as opposed to plain text updates. They reach a greater number of people so aim to have a good mix of posts. Some examples could be:
o Post photos of you at a writing festival or event, with an author
o The new trailer for your book
Share news, something that’s new, interesting or unusual. This could be a new book deal, a book signing or festival you’ll be speaking at, or a link to your latest blog post.
Make your page interactive – ask questions of your community and reply to their comments on your posts.
Share content by other people, if you think it will interest your community, with a brief explanation of why you’re sharing it.
And interact on other people's posts in a friendly, helpful manner.
A good rule to follow is post when you have something of interest to say. Aim for once or twice a week. It’s better to post less frequently than bombard people several times a day with dull or pushy posts.
You can use a platform like Hootsuite to schedule some of your posts in advance.
• Make sure your posts are high quality so that people want to read them and return to your page
• Invite your friends to like your page.
• Put a Facebook button on your author site.
• Put a link to your page on your other social media profiles
• Put a link to your Facebook page in your email signature
• Join Facebook writing groups. There are plenty of groups for writers where you can connect with like-minded writers and make new friends
You can but ideally it is best to post different updates for the different social platforms otherwise there is no need for people to follow you on them both.
If you use Facebook already you’ll be familiar with the things people do that are irritating at best. Avoid these mistakes and you’re already ahead of the game:
1. Posting to your new friend’s wall asking them and all their friends to buy your book
2. Posting several times a day pushing products and asking favours
3. Messaging all your friends including people you’ve hardly connected with pleading with them to buy your book, vote for something, like all your various social media profiles. It’s not that you can’t let people know about your new book or ask them to vote for you but phrase your requests carefully and think about who you’re asking.
4. Don’t tag people in adverts that are nothing to do with them. I usually find myself tagged in random sunglass promotions. It doesn’t work. Don’t do it.
A word of warning. Consider the image you want to project, the impression you want people to have of you, when you’re on Facebook and other platforms. If you’re positive you’ll attract more of the same. Don’t air your dirty laundry across the site. Don’t behave badly thinking no one will notice because it’s on Facebook. They will. You want your Facebook marketing efforts to strengthen your brand.
There are many children’s authors out there who are doing a great job with Facebook marketing.
If you want a good example have a look at M G Leonard’s page (author of the Beetle Boy Trilogy .)
If you have any suggestions of other great pages we’d love to hear them.
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