How to Get Visible on Facebook

shaun inmonGuest Post
by Shawn Inmon

Do you have a Facebook page? Of course you do. Here’s the more relevant question: is your message getting out to your fans, or do you sometimes feel like you’re shouting down a well?

Life was easier in the early days of Facebook. You posted content and it was delivered to the walls of your fans. Then FB went public and monetized their platform, confirming the adage If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. Suddenly, you needed to pay money to reach your fans.

There is a better way, of course—beating the Facebook algorithms. Every professional page tells you what your “Talking About This” number is. What does that number measure? My understanding is that it measures the number of unique users who Like, Comment, or Share a post on your page over a rolling seven day period. The higher that number is, the more of your posts will be seen by your fans. My understanding is that the average TAT is between 5-7%. So, if you have a thousand fans on your page, the average TAT number is 50-70.

I shoot for substantially higher than that. At this moment, my FB page has 1,721 fans and a 721 TAT number, or about 41.8%. My goal is to keep that number constantly between 25-50%. Keeping the TAT number that high means that my posts go out to a substantially higher number of my fans without paying FB. I saw a traditionally published author last week who had over 40,000 fans and a TAT # of under 50. Abysmal. No one is seeing their posts, because FB believes that no one cares about those posts.

This algorithm, by the way, is a great reason to not buy “Likes” for your FB page. If you buy fans from a “Like Farm,” they will not interact with your page, lowering your TAT % substantially. It can become a FB death spiral—lower percent of fans respond, FB sends your posts out to fewer people, even fewer fans respond… you get the picture.

The question is, how do you build your TAT # up? It’s really pretty easy. Post engaging content. Ask questions. Interact with your readers. Don’t constantly push your books. Many writers seem to object to posting “silly jokes and memes.” That’s fine, but FB will likely choose to show their important posts to a tiny percentage of their fans. I post silly jokes and memes every day. They are the backbone of my FB page. They get a lot of likes, comments and shares. They also give people a reason to think of my page as a “destination page.” People tell me that they don’t wait to see my page pop up in their Newsfeed, but instead make the effort to come to my page to see what I’ve posted.

Questions are a great way to encourage interactivity. I ask things that fit with my books, or reading in general. Several months ago, I asked a simple question: “What do you prefer, books or ereaders.” That post got over 120 responses. I also asked “Do you read all the extra material in books, like the Acknowledgements, and Author’s Note?” Again, over 100 responses. It helped push my TAT #’s up and doubled as market research. By the way, a huge majority said they always read that material.

The mistake that most of us make is to make our page all about us. Our readers are so inundated with ads every day, if they perceive that you are giving them more of the same, they will tune you out. I tend to promote other writers on my page as much as I do my own books. Yes, I talk about my own books—a new release, a special price—but it makes up less than 10% of what I post about.

I also have a Book Club once every six weeks or so. No, not for my own books, for other people’s books. I give my readers three or four choices and let them vote on what they want to discuss. Then, at the appointed time, we all meet at my page and discuss it. This builds a sense of loyalty and community on my page, and of course, it increases the TAT.

I recommend that you look at your own TAT #’s, examine the content you’re posting, and think if you are implementing the best strategy and reaching the most people you can with your page.

Shawn Inmon hails from Mossyrock, Washington — the setting for his first two full-length books, Feels Like the First Time and Both Sides Now. His newest release is Rock ‘n Roll Heaven. By day he works in real estate with a side of public speaking. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Dawn, is a father of five, grandfather of five, and best pal to two chocolate labs named Hershey and Sadie and a slightly insane cat named Buddha. Learn more about Shawn on Facebook or his Author Central page.

Author: Shawn Inmon

Shawn Inmon is a full-time author who lives in the bucolic town of Seaview, Washington. He is married to his high school sweetheart, and they are privileged to share their home with two Chocolate Labs and a schizophrenic cat named Georgie. Shawn is the author of the twelve book Middle Falls Time Travel series, which has been produced in audio by Podium Publishing. He has eight other books, including travel books, romances, memoirs, and a collection of short stories. He promises to settle down and write in one genre. Someday. Learn more about Shawn on Facebook or his Author Central page

32 thoughts on “How to Get Visible on Facebook”

  1. Thanks Shawn. Great post; painfully enlightening! I guess live and learn is the motto of the day. I’m off to come up with some interesting tidbit to post (not pushing…) 🙂

    1. Truth be told, if I had to come up with interesting tidbits all the time, I’d be lost. As I’m surfing through FB, I just keep my eyes open for pictures, memes and jokes that I think my readers might find interesting. I can’t imagine having to actually create that much new content every day!

  2. Very interesting. FB has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I was doing some of the things you suggest and have been getting more interaction but I see that I could be doing more. Thank you.

    1. I think we all tend to migrate to the place that fits our skill sets best. For me, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+ are complete mysteries. The truth is, I just identified some successful pages and tried to emulate what they were doing.

    1. Hi, Yvonne! If it’s a business page (as opposed to a personal one) just to the right of your profile pic will be the name of the page. Directly under that is the # of fans your page has and the TAT #.

  3. Shawn, why can’t I find your facebook page? Is it your name or something else? I just searched on Facebook assuming I’d liked it in the past and wondered why I couldn’t remember seeing anything. Didn’t come up in the search, so I’m now really confused.

    BTW, I’m one who at least scans and usually reads the acknowledgements and authors notes. Author bio and other back matter including previews of other books, I don’t. (Not reading previews of other books is a rule I’ve had for 30 or 40 years and there is a reason for it.) FWIW, I thought the authors notes in your latest were an interesting story all by itself.

    1. Hey, Al! My page is I’m so happy you liked that author’s note. I was worried about it, because it was so long, but I was inspired by the notes that Stephen King and Piers Anthony sometimes included, so I just let ‘er rip. Besides, not every story has a 20 year gestation period!

  4. Great post, Shawn. I’ve been posting jokes for some time and they certainly attract the most attention. I’ve almost got to the point where i only post fun stuff and you are correct–you get more interaction with your readers and people who have liked your page.

    1. To me, that’s the most rewarding part – feeling like I’m connecting with my readers and talking with them instead of at them, and building a little feeling of community on the page. Glad you’re having good results too!

    1. The answers I get often surprise me, which is a good thing! I honestly assumed that I was in the minority in reading all the additional material, but I’m glad I’m not. Because of learning that, I put a lot more effort and time into that material on my last book.

  5. I’m sure this is very helpful if you understand Facebook and how it works. Sadly, about 60% of Shawn’s wisdom is merely words to me, words I don’t understand. It seems I have a lot to learn.

    1. I totally understand what you’re saying. I am that way with Twitter, Pinterest, etc. I was also the same with FB until I just forced myself to learn about it. Now, I really love having a place where readers can reach me easily and instantly. I have some long and intense conversations on the page via PM (Personal Message) now and I feel confident that is helping me build a strong base for the future. Good luck, and message me if I can help at all!

      1. haven’t discovered PM yet. That sounds interesting and I’ll ask my 12 year old guru to explain it next time he calls round. The kids all know how these things work almost by instinct, but he can’t get the hand of writing with my quill !

  6. Shawn, thanks. Anybody who’s FB friends with George Takei can see this in action. The guy gets tons of interaction on the funny stuff he posts (and not just because he’s famous); when he sneaks in a post about his book, people complain. 😀

    Recently, my fan page post with the most interaction was a Peeps-on-motorcycles photo that I meant to put on my personal page. Maybe I should do a series of Peeps dioramas of scenes from my books… 😀

    1. That’s actually an awesome idea, Lynne. Can I steal (err… “pay homage to it”) on my own page? I love it! My readers really react to creativity like that.

  7. Shawn, any time I see you speaking about this type of topic I drop everything to read what you’re up to! Excellent post thank you 😉
    I’m wondering what you have to say about sharing posts. Does it help your TAT as long as others interact the same as an original post?

    1. It has looked to me like it does, and it can create a reciprocal effect with the page you’re sharing as well. Here’s another little facebook tip: If you mention someone who has a FB page, if you choose to highlight their name (linking it to your post) then a certain percentage of the fans of that page (depending on a few factors, it might be a lot or a little) will have your post show up in their newsfeed. I’ve actually picked up a few page likes by tagging Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly’s page in a post about Rock ‘n Roll Heaven. Cheers, Terry!

  8. Interesting post Shawn. What you said made a lot of sense. But I think Indie authors need to explore other avenues like forum posting, Facebook groups, blogging etc. too to get new readers. End of the day our goal is sell more books and reach out to more book readers and not merely have a engaging fb page. Don’t you think that you will find more readers on Good Reads for example then facebook?

    1. For me? No. I have a Goodreads author account, of course, but GR is filled with risk for authors. I have some nice interaction with readers there, but I’ve seen a number of friends get excoriated there. One thing I believe is completely useless is posting links that say “Here’s my new book!” on various FB group pages. That’s a perfect example of making it all about me and talking at people instead of to them. That’s why I don’t belong to any FB groups that allow self-promotion by writers. It’s just too painful for me to watch.

  9. Great information Shawn. But do you use your business facebook page as your only interaction on facebook…even with family and friends? Do you have a separate facebook non-business page?

    1. Great question. I do have a personal page, but mostly I just use it to interact with a few family members, writer friends and groups that I participate or admin in. I used to post funny observations, memes, etc. on my personal page, but now they all go to my writer page. I think it is important to have separate pages.

      1. Shawn,
        Did you migrate people who were on your personal page to your fan page? I am wondering the best way to do this.
        Btw, I love Pinterest and have 1600 followers the last time I looked. I’m happy to help you there. 🙂

  10. Great advice. It’s always best to build genuine relationships with readers rather than constantly basing them over the head with ads to “Buy my Books!” 🙂

    1. Amen! We are all so bombarded by ads that I think we all have advertising armor. The only way around that armor is, as you say, to have genuine relationships with our readers.

  11. Definitely some excellent insights here. I had already seen my TAT numbers drop, but wasn’t clear why, and I had already tried posting other content besides “Buy my book!”

    I’m curious as to whether anyone has researched the effectiveness of pinning a post to the top of your page.

    I also occasionally think about changing out my cover image, but my book has only been out for about 6 weeks, so it feels like it might be too early to do that.

    1. I keep meaning to try pinning something to the top, but I always forget. I think that if you can get to a point where you can drive traffic to your FB page (as opposed to someone just Liking or commenting from their Newsfeed) then that could be effective.

      I switch my profile pic out about every 6-8 weeks, just to keep things fresh.

  12. I post a lot of videos and great photos–mine and others–and generally get a lot of likes. Occasionally I will post something about my books, but not a lot. I see authors that post nothing but their books and usually several posts at once. It gets to the point I skip past them. I don’t want that to happen to my posts.

    1. You are on exactly the right track, Sandra. If we had a friend who was part of a multi-level marketing program, and every time we got together with them all they did was pitch their product, we would go out of our way to avoid them, right? I don’t think FB is any different.

      1. Thanks, Shawn. Yes, you are right about avoiding people who all they did was pitch their product.

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