Writing on Our Walls – Our Facebook Walls, That Is

writing on the wall facebook graffiti-482367_640I’ve written about using your author’s Facebook page to build you platform several times before, here and here. Still, in almost every authors’ group I belong to, I hear the familiar refrains: “Facebook sucks.” “I’m not paying Facebook to show my posts to my own fans.” “Facebook stopped working when they changed their algorithms.” Those things may be true for many writers, but they are not true for me. After my mailing list, my Facebook page is my second most effective free platform builder.

In my previous articles, I shared a few of my strategies for building up your traffic and fans on your Facebook page before — post consistently, don’t post about your books constantly, put links that lead off Facebook in the comments of your posts instead of the body of your message. Here’s a new idea for you, though — write. You’re a writer, so write.

When I look at most writers’ Facebook pages, I see a lot of links to their books (over and over and over again, no wonder people are tuning out. Who wants to visit a page that is all commercials?) the occasional meme they’ve lifted from somewhere else on Facebook, and maybe a post or two about their WIP.

For two and a half years, now, I’ve been posting other stuff – one-line jokes, my “Icon of the Week,” pictures of kitchens and comfy reading nooks, terrible puns, and a Question of the Day. All that stuff was working well enough, but my page wasn’t growing fast enough to suit me and I felt like I could boost my engagement numbers higher still. So, I started writing on my Facebook page. Not books, or even short stories, but actually taking the time to craft my posts. I even started including my opinions about things, although I tend to stay away from politics and religion.

Mostly, though, I keep my focus on the things I know my readers expect to hear from me – comments on pop culture, current television shows and movies, and lots of music. A few weeks ago, I started posting a “Happy Birthday” announcement for a celebrity every day. The easy thing to do would be to just post, “Happy birthday, XXXX XXXXX.” Instead, I write a short little career retrospective of the celeb, look for a flattering picture of them, and add a hashtag with their name on it. While I was writing this article, Brigitte Bardot turned eighty-two. I wrote a short post about her and wished her a happy birthday. That post ended up being seen by 5,921 people, even though I only have 2,600 fans. It was liked 242 times and was shared by 101 people. I also picked up about 15 new page likes that day. Today, I got a Facebook message from a woman who said she had seen my post about Ms. Bardot, followed my page, and bought my first book. Today, she told me, she just bought all the rest of them. It’s rare to hear of results like that directly, but I absolutely believe there is a trickle down result from many people seeing my posts.

If you choose to write about hot-button issues, there are positives and negatives. Several weeks ago, when a ninety-one year old German woman was arrested and charged in the deaths of 260,000 people because she was a radio operator at Auschwitz, I wrote a post about it. The positive was that the post took off – it was seen by more than 40,000 people, had over 600 likes and was shared over 400 times. It also added more than fifty new fans to the page. However, there were also over a thousand comments left on the post and they got a little heated. I don’t mind seeing opinions that are different than mine, but I do like to keep my page clean. It took more time than I liked to delete or hide the more “out there” comments.

So, aside from ringing up some gaudy Facebook numbers, what does all this writing and liking and sharing do for you? A lot, actually. It means it is relatively easy for me to reach my readers on FB without ever paying to boost a post. The FB algorithms have decided, at least for the moment, that my posts are interesting enough that they deserve to be shown to a lot of people. I’ve also noticed that each time a post gets a lot of views, I pick up new fans of the page. Some of those new fans will inevitably stick around to see what I offer, aside from pithy Facebook posts. More important than anything, though, when I share a little bit of who I am — what I think, what I laugh about, what I believe — I build a closer connection with many of my most important readers.

There is a well-known theory that we all need a thousand “true fans” – people who auto-buy everything we release, taking our sales to the next level. I don’t know of a way to grab those true fans by the bushel-full, but adding a steady drizzle through my Facebook posts is working.

We are all writers. Our words are our tools — we should use them.

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

37 thoughts on “Writing on Our Walls – Our Facebook Walls, That Is”

  1. Great stuff as always Shawn. I always look forward to your insight and yes, even your Facebook puns. It gives me a break from the never ending negativity that is out there most days.

    1. There’s something to be said for a little silliness in our world, too, isn’t there? Good to see you Zack. 🙂

      1. Yes there is. We need silliness. WE NEED YOU ON THAT WALL! (Sorry, I got caught up in the moment)

  2. Interesting article, thanks.

    For me it’s about ROI at any given time. I’m sure I could spend time focusing on Facebook to boost social visibility, but at this time I think my time is best focused on increasing visibility on my books (through reviews, etc.). When I get enough fans, then FB will become a more effective tool for me.

    However, you’ve motivated me to launch a FB author page (I currently only have FB book pages), and post updates at least once a week, so that I’m positioned to grow it when the time comes.

    1. One thing I believe with certainty is that there are as many different paths to success as there are writers. That’s why I never say, “Here’s what you’ve GOT to do to be successful.” Instead, I prefer to say, “Here’s what I’m doing, and how it’s working (or not) for me.” I write about FB fairly often because it’s widely accepted these days that FB is an almost-worthless tool in our author toolkit, and I know that’s not true. Good luck with your author page!

      The reason I’ve chosen to focus on a single author page instead of individual book pages is that I didn’t want to have to rebuild the fanbase for each new book, starting at zero. Has that been a successful strategy for you?

      1. The book pages are just part of my overall PR image. Individually, they aren’t terribly effective. Just virtual billboards at this point, and something to add into a list of links to make my social presence look more impressive than it really is. 😉

        I’m sure those pages will get more attention as my fan-base grows. Focusing on getting my individual books in front of readers is my most effective strategy at present. If they like what they’ve read, they’ll move onto my other books, and then presto – I have another fan.

        So that’s my current strategy – winning over one fan at a time. A FB author page is a longer-term strategy as my fan-base (hopefully) keeps growing.

  3. Apart from the problem I have of not connecting with the Facebook mentality, I can see that this article holds valuable advice. It’s prompted me to make renewed efforts to get my head round understanding what FB is all about and what it can do to help me promote my books. Thanks so much Shawn.

    1. I completely understand what you mean, Ian, as I feel exactly the same about Twitter. When I go there, it looks like a river moving so fast, I can’t see individual pieces of information, and when I do fish something out, it’s another blinking ad. 🙂

      I know Facebook won’t be an effective tool for everyone. It takes a lot of stubbornness – I posted consistently with almost no feedback for months before I started getting traction. Once you get it, though, it’s not hard to maintain or even build momentum. Good luck!

      1. The book pages are just part of my overall PR image. Individually, they aren’t terribly effective. Just virtual billboards at this point, and something to add into a list of links to make my social presence look more impressive than it really is. 😉

        I’m sure those pages will get more attention as my fan-base grows. Focusing on getting my individual books in front of readers is my most effective strategy at present. If they like what they’ve read, they’ll move onto my other books, and then presto – I have another fan.

        So that’s my current strategy – winning over one fan at a time. A FB author page is a longer-term strategy as my fan-base (hopefully) keeps growing.

  4. Good points!
    I’d like to see a Facebook ‘share’ day at some point on Indie’s Unlimited. Share’s are definitely the way to improve results on Facebook, and author’s ought to share each other’s good news, like a solid review or new release opening up a whole new audience to their books. Not a Like -fest, a Share-fest on Facebook.

    What do you think?

    1. I think it’s a great idea. I’ve never been a fan of FB “Like-fests,” because authors tend to like each other’s pages, then never visit them again. That can really drag your page down in the FB algos – you need to have interactivity to do well.

      I agree that sharing other author’s good news is a good idea – a rising tide floats all boats. I also think that when readers see us praising another writer’s work, it reflects well on both.

  5. Great points, Shawn. I almost always get more engagement when I post some short writing, or something about another author’s book, rather than my own promos.

  6. Great tips, Shawn — and you’re making me rethink my strategy of having FB or Twitter (I forget which — I set it up too long ago) automatically tweet my FB page posts. Because of that automated system, I’ve been trying to keep my posts on my FB page under 140 characters, give or take, so they show up in their entirety on Twitter. That works okay when you’re sharing a meme or a blog post — but one of the things FB is good for is the sort of longer-form post you’re talking about. And I have the same problem you do with Twitter, lol. Maybe it’s time to unlink the two.

    1. Yes, that’s what I was doing as well, Lynne – keeping it short – until a few months ago. I’ve found that, at least for me, people are responding to longer posts.

  7. I see Facebook as my most effective social media tool. I concentrate on a single author page rather than spread my time and audience over a page for each book. Every post also goes out as a tweet and my Instagram posts automatically go out on Facebook and Twitter, too. While I have the Amazon link to my most recent book pinned to the top of my page, I post every day, beautiful pictures, interesting links and personal commentary, all of which are related to my various writing interests. I travel a lot with my beautiful wife and pictures from our adventures garner a lot of engagement, often over 100 likes and many comments.
    I’ve sold books and picked up new likes from my Facebook interactions with my followers. I have traded likes to build my numbers, over 20,000 likes so far but keep those people engaged with interesting posts. My new blog is automatically posted to my page as well as all my other social media sites. I use my author page to promote all of my author events.

    1. Me too, and I love that. I find that different readers respond to different things, so that’s why I post a wide variety of topics and memes – music, movies, pop culture, kitchens, jokes, etc.

    1. Thanks, Frank, and that’s exactly what I did – I followed people that were doing well, watched what they did, then adapted their methods to my own personality. For a year or more, I thought that FB was a place to promote, and that’s what I did. Then I discovered it is better served by building a community, and they will promote for me.

  8. Great post Shawn. I do what you suggest on my blog, and on rare occasions on Twitter, but I just can’t relate to Facebook. 🙁

    I suspect the choice of social media venue is irrelevant anyway because it’s the relationships you build with people that count. And you have to be capable of maintaining those relationships. You do it on Facebook; I do it on my blog. It’s genuine and I think that’s what really counts.

  9. Well said – and I do try to do as you suggest, but even so, often FB decides my posts are not worthy and I see only a few tens of people seeing my posts. Many of them are feeds from my regular weekly blog, funny quotes and images, and sometimes personal information.

    1. Hi, Vicky. The best solution I know to FB not showing your posts is to continue to stubbornly post engaging content day after day after day. Eventually, it comes together, although admittedly, it is a slow build.

  10. Shawn, thanks for your take on the Facebook author page. Just wondering, do you have both a personal one and an author one? I’ve thought about combining them, but then again, the idea of having my Facebook header advertising my books as a personal page seems a bit much. By the way, went and Liked your page. 🙂

    1. I have two pages – a personal page and an author page. As my relationship with my readers has grown, though, I tend to share more and more personal things on my author page. For instance, when my wife and I went to Monday Night Football this week, I posted a picture of her. Last week, I posted a montage of four pictures of my new grandson. That aspect might work better for me than most, though, because my first two books are memoirs, so my readers really feel like they know me – which they do! 🙂

      I use my personal page for staying in touch with friends and family, and to participate in various author groups. Thanks for the Like!

  11. Shawn, since you obviously know a lot about Facebook, can you answer a question for me? Each week FB send me stats about my contact level. Often, after a busy week of posts I’m told I have reached -200% against last week, (when I posted less) and that my coverage is 0%. How are FB stats derived and just what do they mean. The look like garbage to me. 🙂

    1. I don’t think they’re garbage, but I think that the % gain or lost numbers are semi-useless. I try to keep an eye on total engagement vs. my total likes. So, if I have 2,600 fans and have had 2,000 engagements, then I know I’m doing a good job of keeping my page engaged. If the engagement number with the same number of likes is 200, then I know I’m not reaching people. Mostly, I advise experimenting with different tactics and finding out what works best for your particular audience.

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