What to do? Facebook has changed – again. There’s more competition than ever for reader attention.
Writers are frustrated and it’s easy to understand why. How do you build a business when the goal posts for success keep moving? What’s the point?
Facebook is probably the slowest platform to build an audience on, and shooting yourself in the foot by listening to bad advice only makes it more difficult.
Choosing to build platform the right way will insulate you from the changes Facebook continues to make because those changes are often intended to deter those who cheat and try to game the system.
Here are 4 of the worst pieces of advice I’ve heard when it comes to building a writing platform on Facebook:
Promo your books to every group every day.
This feels a whole lot like spam.
There are three kinds of groups on Facebook: Open, Closed and Secret. Closed groups are searchable but you have to ‘join’ in order to see the posts. (Secret groups are the same only they won’t show up in searches, you have to be invited to join.)
So, you’re a member of XY closed group. The posts in that group will appear in YOUR news feed because you’re a member. Those posts won’t show up in your friends’ news feeds unless they’re also members of that group.
With an Open Group everything is public. When you post in ABC open group, then EFG group, This-Writer-Group, That-Fiction-Author-Group, etc. that post can (and will) show up in the news feeds of your friends. Over and over and over. Same status – same link – same image.
See why it feels like spam?
Instead of posting to all of these groups at the same time, pick the two or three groups most likely to be interested in that content and spread out posting there over 24 or 48 hours. Craft unique status updates to each group. Show up for the conversation.
Friend every member of every group so they’re more likely to see all your posts.
This is how people land in Facebook jail and are then mystified how it happened. Facebook states that you’re only to ‘friend’ people you know outside of Facebook. Too many people tell Facebook they don’t know you outside of Facebook and you land in Facebook jail with friending privileges suspended.
You’re much better off to be a useful contributor to a group and have people send you a friend request – because they’ll feel like they ‘know you.’ Or turn on the follow button on your Profile so they can follow you – whatever they’re comfortable with.
Communicate early, often, and frequently … but not about your books.
If you never post about your writing how will people know you’re a writer? Most people want to ‘know’ a famous author (you don’t need to debate what ‘famous’ means).
They want to get to know you, but they’re also interested in what you’re working on, books you have coming out. They love being asked for input – I need names for my main character – suggestions? Here are the two covers my publisher asked me choose between – what do you think?
Every status update is an opportunity to show your writing skills, you don’t need to trumpet that, but absolutely give that insider-look into the writer’s life and process.
Promote all the time or no one will know about your book.
This is the flip side to the above problem. If you’re a ‘buy my book’ 24/7 channel you become easy to ignore. OR people will hide you from their news feed – banished to Facebook Hinterland. Once you land there, it’s nearly impossible to prove to people you’ve changed your ways. Not only that, if people label your posts as spam in their news feed Facebook will further penalize you and show your posts to even fewer people. Before long you’ll be posting to an audience of your mother and best friend who are too polite to tell you how annoying that is.
This bad advice is often paired with: automate automate automate. Yes many platforms will let you cross post to Facebook. This isn’t bad if you’re crafting a post specifically for your Facebook audience AND you show up and contribute to the conversation you’ve started.
Do you have questions for Lisa? Which Facebook tips
worked the best for you? Which ones were not so hot?
Do you have social media pet peeves?
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Lisa is teaching a class Beyond Basics: Using Facebook To Build Platform on May 8th. This is a 2-hour online digital classroom session where she’ll go beyond the basics to learn more advanced techniques. Get her best tips for finding and creating content, best practice on sharing content, and how to drive more traffic to your blog or website.
Lisa Hall-Wilson is an award-winning freelance writer, syndicated columnist, and Facebook aficionado. She specializes in interviews, profiles, marketing copy, event promotion, and social justice, and teaches online classes for writers. She writes dark fantasy fiction.
Lisa never turns down an opportunity to go to the theatre (live or for a movie) and can’t resist a good story (especially if there are monsters). She hangs out on Facebook…a lot.
Fine her at her website, Through The Fire, on Twitter or — you guessed it — on Facebook.
Great advice, Lisa. Honestly, I see some of this on FB, but much more on Twitter. Granted, I’m an author, and I have a lot of writer friends on Twitter, but I’m going there less and less because every other post is ‘BUY MY BOOK!!!” As Jenny says, Me. Me. Me. with a side of me. Man, it gets old.
This is what Twitter lists are for. You only see the tweets you want to. 🙂
Thanks for the advice! I have problems promoting my books on social media because I’m so sick of the BUY MY BOOK mentality. The last thing I want to do is be ignored or annoy others because that’s all they see from me. Trying to balance ‘check out my book’ with letting them see a personal side of me is tough to do
It’s a bit tricky until you get the hang of it. There are lots of ways to let people know you’re a writer and you have a book out that don’t involve spamming people or ‘buy my book’ blasts.
Thanks, Lisa … good advice for the clueless. I have to agree with Laura. The truth is that even though we are all writers here (98%??) I don’t really want to get those “buy me” type of messages.
I don’t know if anyone will agree with me, but I do think that the social network method of trying to promote a book is a flat-line right now. The everyday folks, X-Gen readers and too many more post on twitter and Facebook constantly. It’s what they did on their last date, what they ate for lunch, pictures of their babies and a few thousand more of that type I can live without.
How to promote? It’s a turkey shoot. The best way is to write a damn good book and get damn good reviews from key book sites. Word of mouth works. Book club recommendations work for me 🙂
I think the social media method of passing on word of mouth is extremely alive, and Goodreads is still working well for many authors. But the “buy my book” on social media? I’ve seen that work approximately NEVER. 🙂
I use Goodreads to find books also, Jenny. That’s why leaving reviews there is so important.
Yep – I’m with Jenny. Social media is very effective, but if you annoy people they are less inclined to buy your work.
I think this is wonderful advice. Anytime you do the same thing over and over again, it get boring. I tweeted.
Thank you, Ella!! The WITS posse here is just the best. 🙂
There is no easy button when it comes to marketing or promotion that’s for sure.
Interesting post, Lisa. It hits me at an odd time. My second book releases in two weeks, so I am all about promoting that release. I’ll be putting quotes out on FB and Twitter every other day, once a day with the release date included, hoping to build interest. However. Since the release of my first book last summer, after the first couple of weeks or so with a very occasional FB or Tweet about that book–maybe sharing a nice sentence from a review, I’ve not mentioned it. Original tweets and FB posts from me have been about what’s going on. I’ve RTed others’ posts about their books. Just recently, several of my publisher’s authors have taken to RTing each others’ Tweets.
I try very hard to make sure to either thank or Favorite people’s tweets like that. As a result of some fairly dilligent work on my part, I’ve increased the number of followers and some of those have tons of followers. (Frankly, I don’t get that!) I’m just trying to keep my head above water with all the social media. And ye gods! When are we supposed to write with all the SM stuff, too?
I think I’m okay with all your rules. However, I was glad to be reminded not to send friend requests to people I just know on FB. I’ve done that, thinking I was supposed to. 🙂 I will FB and Tweet this. 🙂
Hey – yeah, friending people can be a sticky wicket. Some writers are totally OK with that and won’t ever report you. Others are super strict and report every offense — and there’s no way to tell the difference. I just make it known that I accept most friend requests and let people friend me.
As the last person on Earth under 80 who is not on Facebook… Nothing in this post is convincing me to change my mind. I certainly don’t want to spam people with pleas to buy my stuff. They’ll think of me the same way we all think of pyramid schemes… turning friends into desperate salespeople.
Eric, my hubs is under 80 and he’s not on Facebook either. As all the IT guys say (including him): “When a product is free, it’s because YOU’RE the product. ” 🙂
Funny and true!
Eric, I totally hear what you’re saying here. I’m a total introvert on sales stuff as it is. I’m also anti pushy. And yet I know we all have to sell books. I’d much rather do it from my author website even though “everyone” says that won’t work. I freak at becoming known as a Spam Girl. 🙂
For now I’m content to use WordPress as a platform, though that may change when I have an actual product.
My employer does organizational-development consulting, part of which involves assessing people to see what kinds of jobs might motivate them. We currently have 17 categories, and on my assessment, sales was dead last of the 17 categories. So I feel your pain with this stuff.
The pitfalls of being an entrepreneur. You have to wear many hats, and you might not like all the hats you have to wear. Unless you can afford to hire someone to do it for you. I’m still working on that last part.
Lisa, I’m so glad to hear this info. The moving target thing is frustrating and frankly how can “anyone” keep up. I’d rather write than concentrate on the minute by minute changes Facebook and other media sites make all the time. Mostly I depend on my writing friends to keep me updated and even then I get confused. I’m better able to absorb change when I hear it from my writing community than I am from the the sites themselves. There’s just not enough hours in the day to learn it all.
Have a community to help you out is definitely a bonus. As much as people complain about Facebook changing the rules all the time, if you don’t spam people or try and game the system, the changes are usually just blips on the radar.
Reblogged this on jbiggarblog and commented:
the way to work with Facebook instead of against it
This great advice Lisa. There is so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to tell what to do sometimes.
Always err on the side of being a helpful human being. 😀
Fantastic way to put it. 😃
Very useful advice – thank you for this! 🙂
Good advice, Lisa. I’ve heard some who read advice like this get upset: “But if I don’t advertise no one will buy!”
But it just isn’t true. I’ve used social media (Twitter and Facebook mainly, but other platforms get mixed in there) to be SOCIAL and genuine. When you interact with groups, have conversations, share links and stories that actually are of interest to you, the people following you become invested.
They ask about your project/book/etc. They make the move.
For the non-believers, my book has had great sales for a first-time out self-pub, and I did and still do very little “buy my book” tweeting/facebooking.
Right ON, Amber! Plus you wrote a great book. 🙂
I’m glad to hear someone speak out against the aggressive marketing that forms the basis of most how-to-succeed-in-social-media advice columns.
I’m new to social media, and I thank you for helping keep me away from the bad habit of constant self (book)-promotion. Now, if I can just find a level of usefulness that would make my posts welcome – that’s the trick, isn’t it?