Facebook is fini, right? Since they began “monetizing” the site several years ago, charging businesses to reach our own fans, authors have been peering at the social media giant with a jaundiced eye. Why should I have to pay to reach my own fans? is a familiar refrain. No one sees my posts anymore anyway is another. In fact, a lot of authors I know have decided to just let their Facebook page lie fallow.
I believe that is a mistake. For me, my most valuable promotional tools are my mailing list and my Facebook page. I don’t have a huge number of Facebook fans – just under 2,200, but they are all organic and the involvement rate is high. Would you believe me if I told you that I had a single post generate more than 150,000 impressions without paying a penny? Admittedly, that post was unusual, but I manage to get at least a few posts that are seen by 25,000+ each week. And that’s with only 2,200 fans.
The question is, how? The answer is different for each person, but I’d like to share the things that have worked for me. I can break it down into four essential areas:
Continuous, applied effort. I post no less than three times per day and average about five posts each day. I know that sounds like a lot of work and a huge investment of time, but it really isn’t. I spend less than half an hour per day now on what I post. My advice is to commit to posting every day for a minimum of six months, then look back and see how the interaction has grown.
Your primary focus. Beyond consistent posting, which I believe the FB algorithms reward over time, it helps to have several main themes. I post about music of the sixties and seventies, silly puns and jokes, and making fun of myself and my wife. That’s what comes natural for me, and since my first two books are memoirs, my readers are prone to feel like they know me. You’ll have to come up with what works for you. My advice is to be yourself and do what comes naturally. If you write serious, cultural books, my style will not work. But, book reviews, sharing thoughtful articles, etc., might very well. Seek out authors who write in your genre who are doing well on Facebook and follow them, see what material they are posting.
Don’t promote too much. If your page is one big commercial, why would anyone want to come visit you every day? My goal is to make my page into a little community that people go out of their way to visit every day, whether I show up in their Newsfeed or not. They won’t do that if I am shouting “Buy my book!” at them constantly. My ratio of informational and fun posts to promotional ones is at least ten to one. That way, on those occasions when you do talk about your writing, you’ve built up a lot of goodwill with your fans and they are much more likely to spring into action to help you.
Plan regular features. It’s fun to have regular features on your page, and it takes the burden of constantly reinventing the wheel off your shoulders a bit. Here are some of the things I do, which you can adapt to your own style. I regularly share pictures of kitchens (I like to cook) and ask my readers if they love it or hate it. I often ask “Shawn’s Question of the Day,” which is mostly designed to start a conversation. It can be anything, like “Do you prefer to read a paperback or eBook?” or “Do you believe in ghosts?” Try that last one. It spurred some great posts on my page. I even do an occasional Book Club on my page. I announce the book that we will read a few months in advance, (last year we did Gone Girl and The Book Thief), post regular reminders leading up to it, then post a series of Book Club-type discussion questions on the night of the meeting. I am also a pop culture lover, so when something happens in that arena – Harrison Ford’s plane crash, Leonard Nimoy’s passing – I write a short piece and share it on my page. That’s often where I get the biggest number of impressions, which inevitably leads to more page likes.
Over time, people will feel they are part of your community, and will start commenting and sharing your posts; their friends will see that and check out your page, and it will grow, slowly and organically. The trick is to not expect a quick payoff. Initially, it can feel like you are shouting down a well. I started doing these things in February of 2013, when I had about 400 people on my page. It was a little slow and discouraging at first, but now I look forward to connecting with my friends and supporters. A whole page full of people who like your work and care about you can be a great antidote to a bad review or temporarily lagging sales.
31 thoughts on “Do Facebook Author Pages Still Work?”
I have enough trouble thinking up something of substance to say once a week on my FB page, let alone five times a day. And you manage that is only about half an hour a day? Sorry, I can’t get my mind round that. It takes me ten minutes just to find my page! As a promotional tool it’s a blind alley for me I still have to get to understand how it makes connections and gets seen, and that doesn’t come naturally to a non-technological person like me. Heavens, I have enough trouble sending responses to IU posts!
This is an interesting article all the same, and I’m glad if FB works you you.
If I had to create all my material from scratch, it would take me much longer. Instead, I find other FB pages and websites that do topical humor each day and often adapt ideas I find there to fit my own themes and style.
By the way, I feel the same way about Twitter that you do about FB. It’s all about finding a niche where your fans can connect with you, whether it’s FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Great ideas, Shawn. I’m afraid I don’t spend near enough time on my author page. You’ve inspired me to do better. Thanks.
Welcome, Melissa. 🙂
Shawn, I use my FB page mostly to share insightful posts like this one (My page is full of IU articles!) or to promote other authors. Occasionally, I’ll post something about my books. I follow the same set of rules for Twitter, Google, etc. I see no purpose in boring everyone! However, I like to keep in touch–say “I’m still here.” I feel that this is best accomplished by sharing articles and tips that other authors might appreciate as much as I do.
Excellent plan, Linda. I try never to underestimate the effectiveness of just making impressions on people multiple times.
My Facebook page is very valuable to me. I keep the Amazon link to my latest book pinned to the top of my page and tell people it is also available at all Barnes & Noble stores, Home Depot and many local bookstores. I don’t ask them to buy, just tell them it is available but my book got preorders as much as 6 months before the release date from my loyal followers.
I post every day, with beautiful pictures and other posts related to my writing interests. I have a list of pages I go to for finding pics and posts to share besides the ones I create myself. I get lots of likes, comments and shares. Some of my most successful posts are when I ask my followers a question along with a provocative post. My wife and I have a very active social life with lots of travel. Some my the biggest responses have come from posts about our life experiences
My page is linked to Twitter so every post also goes out as a tweet, working 2 networks with one post. Besides Google+, I’m also on Pinterest where I only pin things related to my books and writing interests and Instagram. Both Pinterest and Instagram posts are also linked to Facebook so every post also goes to Facebook and Twitter, tripling my efforts. Instagram is newer for me but very valuable as I can snap a picture and post it in seconds, going to 3 networks, anytime I am carrying my phone. I recently upgraded my phone, choosing one with a better camera to upgrade the quality of my Instagram posts.
I consider Facebook to be my most important social network and I’ve never paid to promote a post.
Excellent, Richard. Congratulations on finding what works for you. That’s really the key.
Thanks for the tip, Shawn. I link my weekly blog to FB and often post a link – especially an IU link – an amusing quote, or a photo that I like, up to three times a week. I’d never thought to post three to five times per day. I thought people would get annoyed at the number of posts coming through. I have a very small number of fans and often think I’m shouting down an empty well, but I keep going.
I was initially afraid that people would unlike my page if I posted consistently, as well. Ultimately, I decided that if they were going to leave if I was posting entertaining, interesting stuff, then trying to hold onto them would be like holding back the tide. Like any page, I do get the occasional person leaving, but my page has grown every month for the last two years.
Awesome advice, Shawn. I couldn’t agree more. I post regularly twice a day and I try to really vary what I post between funnies, movies and books I like, plus my own promo stuff. I really like what you have to say here and I’m looking forward to trying a few more things. Thanks for the advice 🙂
Always welcome, Melissa. Once you get the ball rolling, it becomes something to look forward to instead of dread, don’t you think?
With all the time you spend composing then posting several times a day, and presumably you also read other people’s posts, scratch your head, drink coffee and do a few ‘normal’ things each day, how do you ever find tie to write?
If you’re on something, I need some of that! 🙂
If I said I’ve cut out drinking coffee, would that work? 😉
The truth is, when I first started this, it did take me longer. Like anything, posting regularly is a learned skill that improves with time. Now, I spend about 15 minutes first thing in the morning and another 15 minutes when I get home from work. That leaves plenty of time for me to write, or, just as likely, procrastinate from writing.
If I cut out drinking coffee, I’d never get *anything* done. 😉
I say fooey on Facebook! The only way my FB page worked for me was to drive people to my blog because I shared every blog post there (and on my timeline). The FB gurus no longer permit that. I’ve been forced to announce blog posts of interest to readers and writers on my author page, hoping those interested will take the time to go to my website. Now Google+ gets all my shares (and they seem to register faster in Google searches too). Yes, I think FB’s days are numbered!
Having watched the rise and fall of MySpace, I would never say that Facebook will be around forever, but I’ve been seeing people predict their demise for at least three years now, while it continues to grow and grow. I’m sure I will eventually have to learn a new place and way to connect with my readers – that’s why I focus primarily on building my newsletter list. It’s the one medium where I control the contact without worrying about changing policies (within reason) or algorithms.
I actively use my “professional page” to promote thoughts on children, on education, on imagination and artistic interests. I let people know what I am doing and post book reviews that I do upon occasion. I share my LinkedIn posts, news from other sites where I am involved. I have over 4000 fans, so I vary the material. Even if not everything is seen that I post, I have enough variety that I seem to maintain most of my fans. I use one author site for all of my books, which seems to help. Every opportunity for exposure to my work is important to me
Shawn, I’ve gotta admit that I’ve also been frustrated with Facebook truncating our organic reach. I do still post to my page a couple of times per day, on average, but I find that I’m getting a lot more interaction by setting posts to Public on my own timeline. It bothers me that I have to do that, as I had always thought of my page as my “public figure” face, while my personal timeline was a place where I could chat with RL friends. Now I have to pay a lot more attention to that little “public/friends/friends of friends” setting every time I post.
Hmmm… I’m not sure why you’re not seeing adequate reach after posting consistently. Like you, I much prefer to keep my two pages separate. Let me take a look at your page and I’ll see if I have any ideas. 🙂
That’s been my experience too. I’m sure I’ve limited my timeline to “friends” and “close friends,” but I’ll have to check that–I know I had to make some author buddies “close friends” because there was a time they never saw what I added to my timeline. I’m open to the world on my author page, and run Google+ that way too, where I can still share my blog posts.
I’ve found LinkedIn much more useful to connect with writers, and that site has more interesting discussion groups about the writing business. I’d probably get more involved with GoodReads if it weren’t so unwieldy and non-user friendly–readers tend to congregate there more and, seriously, I’d much rather connect more with readers (and create new ones!).
Personally, I think reviewing ebooks for others (I do quite a bit) and having my own reviewed (if I could find reviewers) is worth much more than social networking…but that’s just me.
Thanks! You’ve given us very helpful information.
Very welcome, Helen!
Found your article interesting enough to go to your FB page. Very nice. I’m curious as to where you found the “author app” and what does “verified page” mean? Thx in advance for your response.
How ashamed would I be to say that I don’t remember where I got the Author App? Pretty ashamed, but it’s the truth. I loaded it on there several years ago and totally forgot about it. I think it was a FB app, but I honestly don’t recall.
Glad you mentioned the “verified” check mark, as I forgot to mention that in my post. Becoming verified is really simple. You just need to send FB some verifiable proof that you are really you. A copy of your driver’s license will do. It takes them about 24 hours to approve you, then you get that nifty little checkmark. Since FB says that they only give it to celebrities, musicians and athletes, I think there might be some subconscious benefit to having it.
Dude, you’re my idol. Where on FB do you initiate contact to get verified?
Try this page: https://www.facebook.com/help/196050490547892
That oughta do it. 🙂
You rock. Thank you! 😀
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