Editor’s note: This is the first in a series on social media for writers. A book-worthy peg in a blog hole, the series includes ASJA members’ experiences with the various platforms and aims to point writers in the direction of finding more information and help them make informed decisions and. Have a story to tell or experiences to share on LinkedIn, Twitter or the “others” (Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest)? Please email me or ASJAConfidential@gmail.com. Thanks!
With some 2.19 billion monthly active users and with more than 80 percent usage penetration in leading markets, Facebook can hardly be ignored. But that doesn’t mean you have to be on Facebook, and that doesn’t mean your stuff will be exposed to that many people – although it might, if a post goes viral, which could be a fame and fortune-making or a really terrible thing.
ASJA member P. Elizabeth Anderson utilizes the services of a social media expert because she wants to carefully parse her time on how to make best use of it. The author of The Powerful Bond Between People and Pets: Our Boundless Connection to Companion Animals (Praeger), she uses Facebook not so much to promote the book itself—although it is highlighted—but to further the platform and causes she believes in. “My Facebook pages are aimed to educate animal activists and advocates about issues affecting how wild, companion and farm animals are treated.” This includes sharing information on legislation, research and various advocacy efforts. “There seems to be the notion that you have to show graphic images of animals being mistreated to change hearts and minds.” Animal advocates are actively debating the necessity of such visceral representations. “People already know about abuse; such pictures already weigh heavily on them. We don’t need more.” With that in mind, she differentiated her Facebook pages from others of its ilk. “I wanted a safe space where people could support and discuss animal advocacy issues without being exposed to graphic images of abuse.”
Elizabeth has two Facebook pages: an administrative page and a primary or business page (what used to be called a fan page). “Facebook is always changing their rules, so it needed to be set up this way [when] I established the pages. I also didn’t want to link it to my personal page,” she says. (Another point of endless discussion among writers. More on that later.)
She needed the administrative page to “manage” the business one, which included getting useful metrics and allowing her to “boost” business page posts—that is, paying a nominal amount (of around $10 or so) to reach people who might otherwise not see her posts. “You can establish how much you want to spend,” based on your budget and publicity needs, she says.
Judicious boosting of especially relevant and newsworthy items has paid off. “In some cases, the post got over 2,000 views.” And, “while there’s some information on the admin page, I direct them to the business page” for the most detailed and updated posts.
“Along with helping me design and focus the two pages to reach the target audience,” the social media expert also advised Elizabeth as to the frequency and content of posting and boosts, sending her a survey and working with her to fine-tune goals. “We’ve found, for example, that boosts are most effective when linked to topical issues, such as the possible banning of emotional support animals from airlines,” she said. It also helps that her current social media expert is a passionate animal advocate as well. “She really understands what I’m trying to achieve and makes suggestions based on that” as well as the usual metrics and trends.
For further information:
Facebook for Authors. This blog post originally appeared in 2014, and while some things have changed, much of the basic information remains solid and relevant. This comprehensive overview includes using and linking personal profiles vs. official or business pages, key principles in using Facebook (including “like attracts like,” “target your posts appropriately,” “offer context” and so forth) and what to avoid. Also helpful are suggestions for what to post on Facebook, with an emphasis on your audience, and successful examples of other authors’ Facebook pages.
4 Ways Writers Sabotage Themselves On Facebook. This blog post offers some good basic advice and a quick refresher course on FB dos and don’ts. “Many writers seem to have this love/hate/I don’t get it relationship with Facebook. It’s complicated, keeps changing, and people break the rules all the time….you may be searching for a few shortcuts, because all you really want to do is write.”
20 Facebook Groups for Writers You Don’t Want to Miss. You might want to miss some, depending on your goals and the state of your career, and others may be disbanded, but groups such as Calls for Submissions, which has over 50K members and “collects submission calls for poetry, fiction and art and presents them all in one easy-to-follow place” sound promising. The list is worth checking out if you’re looking for your Facebook “tribe.”
5 Ways That Authors Can Use Facebook Advertising. This nuts-and-bolts, rather technical discussion from a UK-based author seems geared those with social media and marketing knowledge, plus there’s the caveat that it was written in 2016, practically the Paleolithic era in FB terms. Those of us who spend 90 percent of our time actually writing (when not watching cat videos or checking our email) may come away somewhat confused.
Thinking of Running a Facebook Ad? Proceed with Caution. Before giving Facebook carte blanche with your advertising campaign, check out harrowing tale about how a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing and why clicks aren’t always what they appear.
What Facebook’s 2018 Change Means for Authors. This roundup of specific changes in the last couple of years offers advice on how to best and most efficiently utilize them. For experienced and frequent users.