Long ago I declared that 2012 would be the Year Of Facebook (FB) for me. Well, better late than never – I’m just now spending more time on the mother of all social media platforms. But here’s the problem: Facebook is a challenge, isn’t it? The functionality changes constantly, and it’s difficult to figure out what to do. Yet so many authors have connected with readers as a result of their FB time, I bit the bullet and began.
Now that Facebook changed the rules and fewer posts (from both Fan and personal profile pages) are showing up in reader’s timelines, I’ve discarded the goal of creating my own Fan page (for now) and decided to simply continue polishing my personal Facebook page. One drawback to using a personal page is that you’re limited to 5,000 friends. With a business (a.k.a. Fan) page, you can accrue unlimited Fans.
Although we often balk at mixing personal with business on social media, the line is blurring and many authors use their personal Facebook accounts as a tool to grow relationships. Note that last line: grow relationships. It’s clear authors should avoid posting extensive flat-out sales pitches (buy my book!). Instead, we can use FB to showcase our writing, accomplishments and blog and connect with friends and readers.
My FB education began with Susan Salluce’s guest post, Does Facebook Work For Authors? and now I’ve made a few small changes to my postings and my page. In this article, I’ll share the basics of what I’ve learned so far. Future posts will cover more in-depth FB stuff as I figure it out.
1. Add A Custom Banner
Banners are a wonderful way to use your page to advertise your work, or whatever else you want the world to know about you. Facebook has a few restrictions on banner images you need to be aware of, but a book cover or cascade of cover images should not invoke their wrath. (Link here to check out Bette Lee Crosby’s cool “cascade of covers” banner.)
According to FB, “To get the fastest load times for your Page, upload an RGB JPG file that’s 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall and less than 100 kilobytes.” I finally succeeded to place a slice of my Mark of the Loon book cover image. Wish I was a better graphic designer, but this will do for now. Link here to check it out.
2. Take Full Advantage Of Your Profile
A Facebook profile is your first business-building opportunity. If you’re an author, writer, book reviewer or editor, you should display this news proudly so visitors can see it. Your entire network of FB friends should be reminded about what you do so they can ask if and when they need your expertise or have questions or comments about your novels!
To complete your basic Facebook information, click on the “Update Info” button under the cover photo above your timeline. Click the Edit link in the top-right corner to edit each of these sections. I added a link to my blog, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn pages in the “website” block.
3. Enhance SEO With Keywords
Search engine optimization can be complicated, but using proper keywords and phrases will help you rank well in Google search results. (Link here for more info about SEO). Although I’ve read articles that say search engines don’t catalogue personal FB pages, mine is displayed when I Google myself (I know you do it, too). So I’m going to assume that SEO principles also apply to Facebook personal pages. In that case, make sure your page contains the appropriate search terms, such as your book titles, and/or that you’re an author, freelance writer, editor, or whatever. The best place to use them is in the “About” section, see above. Can’t hurt!
4. Use Facebook Lists To Separate Personal From Business
Facebook has provided a method to separate personal from business in your account. If you want certain posts to appear only in certain timelines, you can create segmented lists of friends, then use them to manage which group(s) get which messages. There are a couple of methods to add friends to lists. Link here to learn the basics about Facebook lists.
On a friend’s timeline:
• Hold your mouse over the Friends button at the top of their timeline.
• Your list names will appear. Select one. If the list you’re looking for isn’t there, click “Show all your lists.”
On your home page:
• Your lists should appear in the left hand column of your Home page. If you don’t see them, click the “More” link next to Friends.
• Select the list you want to edit, or click “Create a List.”
• Look for friends using in the search bar at the top of the page, or add people from “List Suggestions” on the right.
Once you set up lists, a small “lock” icon appears each time you post to Facebook or modify your status. When you click on that icon, you can choose the lists or people you want to share that post with.
5. Posting Etiquette, Content and Timing
Since my readers are the classiest group I know, I don’t have to remind anyone to respect social media etiquette and refrain from using offensive language and questionable photos in posts. If you’re mixing business with personal on Facebook, anyone who lands on your page should get the best possible impression of you. If you’re not sure if the post is appropriate, just say “no!”
Studies indicate that it’s best to post on your wall 3-5 times a day. I’ll have to work up to that. Right now my goal is to post once a day (hahaha). I’ve been told that a great way to get people to interact with posts is to add a personal comment at the top of every link that explains a bit about the content and what readers stand to gain from it. Then be sure to respond to feedback.
Here are a few post ideas:
- Share great info: Post a cross-section, anything from photos and links to your various fun activities to industry-related articles.
- Represent the writers’ community: Support your colleagues by sharing their blog posts, achievements and events.
- Interact: Ask questions. Reply to questions. Comment on other’s posts. Build relationships. It’s that simple.
- Share achievements in your timeline: Share your wins, but don’t overdo it. Too much “me, me, me” might turn people off.
- Write on friend’s walls: I’m not a big advocate of writing on each NEW friend’s wall, as I think it’s better to message them – but this is a personal choice. One way to support peers is to post congratulatory messages on their walls, such as: “Congrats Terri Giuliano Long! I just read your wonderful Indie Reader article that was picked up by the Huffington Post. Well done!”
Facebook changes so often it’s hard to keep up with new developments, but it’s worth it, and time spent will pay off. If you don’t have an active Facebook page, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.
Because I’m such a newbie, I’d love to hear how you’re using Facebook and if you’ve learned any tricks or have tips you’d like to share. How do you feel about using personal vs. Fan pages? Leave a comment and share!
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