Establishing a presence on Facebook is an important part of connecting with your readers. It’s a long-term commitment, but if you’re willing to invest a few minutes each day to maintain your Facebook author page, it can channel a steady stream of new fans to your website, your mailing list, and your books.
1. Create pages for pseudonyms, not books
Facebook pages require a regular investment of time for maintenance and content. Each page you create multiplies that demand on your time, so it’s best to focus on building your brand as an author rather than promoting a particular book (which you can do just as easily on your author page).
2. Fill out your page information.
Take advantage of all of the fields Facebook offers you, especially the long description, short description, and bio fields. Include links to your other social media accounts, your books, and your website.
3. Appoint a backup administrator.
You might think that your account is safe, but there are many situations that can temporarily or permanently disable your Facebook account. Hackers might compromise your account. You might be unfairly blocked by Facebook. You might be asked to verify your identity, particularly if you’ve used a nickname or included the title “Author” as part of your Facebook name (both are grounds for terminating your account).
If your account goes dark, you’ll be locked out of your page too. Not good! That’s why you need to appoint a trusted friend as a backup administrator. This backup account can perform all the duties that the page owner can, including adding or deleting other moderators, so be certain that the account holder is someone you trust implicitly. If you wouldn’t hand them your checkbook, ATM card, PIN, social security number, and nude photos, be wary of making them an administrator.
Some folks create an alternate account (a nice euphemism for “fake account”) to fill this role. I don’t recommend this tactic as it violates Facebook’s terms of service. However, the repercussions are virtually nonexistent, and if the account isn’t used to circumvent Facebook’s rules (e.g., posting under a fake name), it’s harmless.
4. Your page requires daily maintenance and posts to be effective.
Facebook pages are not a fire-and-forget proposition. You’ll need to invest a few minutes every day in page maintenance, replying to comments and preparing new content. A stagnant page leaves visitors with a negative impression.
5. Nobody wants to see your advertisements.
Let me emphasize that: nobody joins Facebook so they can see ads. Not even yours. Facebook users are looking for one of three things: a solution to a problem, social interaction, or entertainment. If your posts aren’t providing one of those three things, you’re wasting your time (and ours).
That doesn’t mean you can’t use your author page to promote your books! Just remember the three things Facebook users crave — solutions, interaction, entertainment — and design your promos to meet those needs.
6. Your Facebook page should drive traffic to your website.
Whenever possible, your Facebook page should drive traffic to your website. If you’re dependent on Facebook (or any other social media platform) for your readers, you’re at the mercy of that platform. Any change in policy could cut you off from your audience.
Therefore, use social media to drive readers to your website and your mailing list, resources that you own and control. Post original content to your blog and link to that, rather than simply posting it on Facebook alone.
7. Your posts should encourage comments and sharing.
Facebook pages work best when they’re an interactive platform for discussion between author and audience. Don’t just bleat messages to your flock; design each post to stimulate engagement. Common techniques for encouraging interaction are posting questions (“Do you agree with this article?”) and reminding members to share (“Share this post with your friends!”). Asking members to share your content might feel uncomfortable, but it’s a proven method for increasing engagement. Don’t be afraid to plant that idea in the minds of your readers.
8. Let your personality shine through.
Your Facebook author page is a place for readers to connect to you, the author. Inject your personality into your posts and comments.
Unless you’re a dick. In that case, invent a better personality.
9. Never buy likes.
There are shady, fly-by-night operations that promise thousands of likes for a fee, but at best, they’re worthless. At worst, they are scams that will take your money (or worse).
Even if the service delivers the promised likes, most will be fake accounts that are purged by Facebook in a matter of days. And in the unlikely event that those accounts remain, they will be dead weight: non-participating accounts will never buy your books, they will never interact with your page, and they will utterly destroy your engagement ratios. Build relationships with real people, not sockpuppets.
10. Seek engagement, not likes.
Engagement — the likes, shares, and comments on your posts — will be far more important than the number of people who like your page. Engagement determines the number of people who will see your posts, so that’s the metric you should be looking at. It’s better to have a small number of dedicated fans than thousands of apathetic turnips who don’t interact with your page.
11. Give your community time to grow.
Building a thriving community is a slow process. Inviting friends to like your page is a good way to jump-start your page’s membership. You can also boost the growth of your page by purchasing Facebook ads, but if you’re on a shoestring budget, there are better uses for those funds. Ultimately, growing your page’s audience will take time and dedication. Give it time to grow organically, and don’t be discouraged by slow growth. It’s all about the quality of your fans, not the quantity.
12. Use promotions carefully and sparingly.
A well-targeted, well-designed Facebook ad can be effective in gaining new likes for your page, increasing exposure for a specific post, or attracting new eyes to your website. Facebook ads are not the most economical means of advertising, but they can be highly effective as part of a larger campaign. Reserve ad spending for your most important and valuable posts, and use promoted posts as part of a larger, strategic marketing plan (for example, as part of an advertising blitz for a new book release).
13. Establish a comment policy and post it in your long description.
A well-defined comment policy is something every Facebook page should have. It’s a “no trolls allowed” sign, but it also spells out the rules for civilized (but overly enthusiastic) members.
I’ll be covering this topic in depth in a later post, but here’s a bit of boilerplate you can use as a template:
This is a page for fans of _________________. You are invited to share your opinion here!
By participating on this page you agree to our comment policy, outlined below.
We reserve the right to delete comments if they contain:
• personal attacks
• illegal or questionable activities
• off-topic, irrelevant, or self-promotional posts
Repeat offenders will be banned from the page.
Thanks for your cooperation, and have fun!
14. Don’t be afraid to rule with a firm hand.
Page administrators shouldn’t have to play the role of babysitter. Unfortunately, the internet distances people from their actions, and even your kindest, gentlest fans can turn into raging lunatics on a bad day. If you tolerate violations of your commenting policy, members of your group will begin to view those exceptions as the norm, and they’ll act out in ways that drive away potential fans. Step in quickly and break up any incivility that may arise on your page before it explodes.
And the most important tip on this list….
15. Avoid drama!
I cannot stress this enough. Internet drama is poison to your peace of mind, your reputation, and your career. It’s a gateway to cyberbullying and trolling. It invites bad behavior by your audience. In short, internet drama is a bucket of something warm and brown waiting for an unwary foot to step in it.
Be sure that foot isn’t yours.