If you’re an author, someone has almost certainly told you that you should have a Facebook page. And you probably nodded politely while either thinking, “Duh!” or “Leave me alone, I’m scared of social media!”
Social media can be daunting, but with its 1.23 billion monthly active users, Facebook can be a powerful tool for promoting your work. And if you’re on there already (which you, your grandmother, and her pet schnauzer almost certainly are) then it’s the best place for engaging your existing network (also known as the people you know in real life).
Follow these tips for a Facebook page that is effective and simple to maintain:
Fan Page or no Fan Page?
I asked our Social Media and Marketing Coordinator Andrea (who gets this question all the time) to weigh in on this one. “It all depends on how you use Facebook to begin with. If you don’t use it at all, you can just start a fan page. If you use it but want to keep your personal stuff personal, you can have both. If you have a large existing network on Facebook, it can serve as a great central spot from which to reach people you already know—and if you’re comfortable doing so, you can promote your work there the same way you’d tell people in person about what you’ve been up to.” So don’t let the question of whether or not to have a dedicated fan page hold you back; either type of account is fine as long as you’re active on the platform.
There are two kinds of posts on Facebook: valuable, entertaining reads and brain-dumps. All of the following belong in the latter category: badly-lit pictures of last night’s dinner, messy bed sheets with pets in them, a dozen consecutive photos in which your baby looks exactly the same. NO brain-dump posts—or anything remotely similar—on your authorial Facebook page. Instead of just posting what you want to say, think: What might the viewer of my post want to read or see?
What is valuable to you is not the same as what is valuable to your followers. Sixteen posts about your upcoming book signing is spam. People connect on Facebook not so much because they like your work, but because they like something about YOU, so let them in on your process in a fun, friendly way. This could include things like: Sneak previews of cover designs you’re trying to choose between, a killer line from your heroine’s pivotal moment that you nailed today, links to thought-provoking articles about writing or publishing, recommendations for new books by other authors, etc. Use your Facebook page as a daily prompt to look outside your own office and create connections with other writers and readers.
Devise an Editorial Plan
We love a good editorial plan at Girl Friday, and it can work just as well for Facebook as it can for a book. An editorial plan is like a cheat sheet—a schedule of material with prompts you can fill in easily. Instead of staring at the blank status box each morning and thinking, “hmm . . . maybe some b-roll pics from last week’s book signing?” your editorial plan will give you a categorical starting place for what you should be talking about that day. Think: “Motivation Mondays, Word-of-the-Week Wednesday”—and any others that you can come up with. (You don’t actually call them these corny names out loud. Just on your calendar.) So on Motivation Monday you start off the week by posting something that inspires you to write—like a poignant quote, image, or link. Chances are, others will be inspired as well, and you’ve added value to their newsfeeds. On Word-of-the-Week Wednesday, you post an excellent new word you just learned, ideally contextualized with humor and wit, such as “Word of the Week: SCREED. As in, my computer just deleted my most recent draft. Insert expletive-heavy screed.”
Almost every post you write should be designed to inspire the reader to take action—to like, share, or comment. Why? Because if you make a post and no one comments or likes it, your circle of influence ends with your followers. But if your valuable post inspires one of your followers to like, comment, or share, that action shows up in their feed, and all of their friends see your post as well—so you’ve just doubled your reach. In short, getting people to interact with your posts on Facebook is the best way to introduce yourself into other people’s social spheres. As your posts become more engaging, your reach becomes exponentially wider.
Sometimes your content alone is incentive enough, but direct questions are a surefire way to engage. Make it a point once a week to ask a provocative question that you know will inspire debate. Such as: “Do you think the dictionary should evolve to absorb colloquialisms?” or even something more obliquely related to you or your writing that you know will inspire debate, such as “Seahawks or Broncos?”