Ahhh Facebook. The fountain of a million unfulfilled marketing promises. When I first started marketing on Facebook back in 2010, it was a lot different – less brand pages, less authors, and less noise. Groups didn’t yet exist, neither did business pages, offers, or post boost ads. And still, even in this environment, gaining, growing, and engaging fans was difficult (and expensive).
Oh, but the potential! Because Facebook had (and still has) the most precise demographic data available, the dream was to be able to exactly target the right type of people to attract to your Facebook fan page and because they clicked your ad, it would be a cinch to convert them to book buyers, reviewers, and word of mouth promoters, right?
Still, Facebook remains unique among social media sites simply because you know exactly who is engaging with you, can learn more about them easier than other sites, and cultivate a long-term relationship one to one and one to many.
Before you can take advantage of Facebook’s fan base building features, there are a few basic tasks you need to perform.
- Create a facebook profile: Even if you are one of those people who hates FB for personal usage, you need to create a facebook profile to fully optimize the other interesting features on FB. You can create an author personal profile where readers can find and friend you and you post only details about your writing and authoring life.
- Find friends and family: Facebook has an import feature that allows you to first find other people in your contacts (phone, e-mail) and “friend” them
- Build a facebook fan page for your books (or series): I prefer allowing people to interact with my regular author profile and then driving specific fans to my book pages. Now this creates the need to manage multiple properties, but there are features only pages can perform (like ads and post boosts) that you cannot do from your regular facebook profile at this time. Please see the notes on engaging your audience below as you build your page (s).
Over the years, I have purposefully explored every feature, no matter how obscure, Facebook has offered to assist in building my fan base and the fan base’s for my fellow partners in The Pantheon Collective. There are a lot of time wasters (groups, anyone!) on the platform and a lot of spamming and bad tactics going on by authors. I keep coming back to the list of these 10 things every author needs to do to gain, grow, and engage their fan base on Facebook and have found that they remain true, no matter what FB rolls out:
10. Find your audience:
Niche groups are all over Facebook, including book clubs. Find book clubs that align to your book’s genre by using the search feature and contact them (usually contact e-mail, submission process, website, is available under the “Info” tab on the page). Also, consider the topics your book deals with (e.g. conspiracy theories) and connect and interact with groups (by searching for and finding them using the FB search function) interested in the same.
Groups are either open or closed. Open groups allow anyone to join and begin interacting immediately, closed groups require an administrator to approve you before you begin interacting. Important note: You cannot interact with groups as a page, only as a person with a Facebook profile. I know authors who have even created and managed genre groups as a way to attract and engage with interested folks. Smartly, they do not spam about their books, instead the demonstrate subject matter mastery and cultivate an environment of spirited discussion about the topic of interest.
Facebook ads is another great way to specifically target readers who may read books by authors similar to yourself or who like the genre you write. Use these ads to gain likes for your book’s or your author fan page. Ads require you to create a visual with limited text describing your page (i.e. One Blood is the best horror debut since Carrie). Then you need to target the ad based on specific demographics (sex, age, geography), and likes (genre, subjects). You set a daily budget or cost per click, load in your CC info and then Facebook begins posting your ads within and on the side of the news feeds of people you’ve targeted. If you have an effective ad, you will immediately begin seeing your page likes jumping. You may need to test and try multiple ad types, styles, and wordings before finding the perfect combination.
9. Engage your audience:
Once you get someone to “like” your page, then the hard work begins. Remember that currently the average post on FB will only reach around 7% of your total fan base if you (like most) have less than 250,000 fans. But before we get to that, let’s discuss your voice.
Your “voice” is the unique tone and style you employ to reflect either characteristics of your author brand (snarky, humorous, informative, passionate) or the nature of your book’s genre (scary posts for horror, informational posts for self-help, etc). This voice is important across all social media, your website, and blogs and is essential in letting people know what they are getting when they interact with you online.
Use your voice to engage your fan base in creative ways that speak to your unique qualities as well as those of your book (s). Do not constantly bombard fans with your sales pitch. Focus on engagement as a proxy for interest and then leverage interest into more purchases, sharing, and discussion of your book (s).
Some authors use the Question of the Day format, others may post riddles or quizzes related to the topic, while others post trivia. I’ve personally run contests, featured fans, posted reviews of my books, and invited readers to post on different subjects as well. I use a mix of written posts, pictures, and videos to keep the content interesting and easily shareable. Events is another feature that allows you to see who is really interested in participating in a particular contest or book launch tactic – and you can send targeted messages to everyone who has confirmed “attendance” which will infinitely boost your reach.
Regarding the current reach issue on Facebook referenced earlier, Facebook now has a post boost feature which allows you to reach a broader audience for specific posts by spending a certain amount of money. Be warned: this is a very easy way to waste a lot of money. My recommendation is for you to focus on honing your voice and your post schedule and don’t worry about how many people see each specific post. Watch for the level of engagement in posts (likes, comments, shares), take note, and do more of what is getting engagement and less of what does not.
8. Don’t leave out friends and family:
Your family/friends are your biggest supporters, so they usually won’t hesitate to mention your book on their page. I have even seen family members and friends actually post book covers by their author friend/relative as their profile image!
I typically give a limited-time offer (special pricing) just to my friends on Facebook to make it easy for them to support me and get our book launches off to a solid start.
Many times I’ve stumbled on friends’ updates, having no idea they mentioned one of my books. Here’s a tip: Create shareable hashtags (#winning) that your friends and family can use when they post about you or your book (s). Then search your hashtags in the search toolbar at the top of the Facebook screen and you will see all the conversations taking place.
7. Give people the behind the scenes:
Using your unique voice and style, create posts the explain your creative process, research trips (with photos and videos), and character building process. Upload blogs and vlogs as you are writing or promoting to give your fans a better sense of who you are. Talk about the origins of the story and how it changed. Discuss challenges you encountered and overcame in crafting your masterpiece. True fans eat this stuff up and social media was made for creating these types of lasting connections.
6. Leverage the power of interactive promotion (photo/video/audio):
Facebook automatically integrates with Flickr, youtube, audible and a host of other platforms, in addition to its own very useful tools.
Post pics of people holding your books, including book clubs, cover models, etc. Having a picture of your book in someone’s hands is powerful imagery and can make a curious potential reader wonder what the fuss is about. Models on the book cover can be promoters, too. Think about it: The model is probably as excited being on the book cover as the author is being the author of the book. That means the models help spread the world to their family/friends. It’s a win-win. The coolest thing is seeing ALL members of a book club holding your books, sometimes about ten of them.
Post your various radio interviews, create viral videos and commercials, and spread them all over the site as well. There are tons of free and cheap video creation tools online. Invest some time in learning one or two and put them to good use.
5. Make sure your book cover is the profile pic for your page:
This one shouldn’t require too much explanation, but some reactions I’ve seen are readers commenting, “I gotta get this book! Where do I get it?” Once you see comments asking where to find your books, get on it by posting a link directly to an autographed copy or your Amazon buy page.
Remember the worldwide web is built on outbound and inbound links. Create author and book profiles off of facebook on these key sites with links leading people back to our various websites and Facebook. Integrating the Facebook Like and Share buttons onto these pages help people quickly join your fanpages or send that information to someone they think may be interested as well.
Think of these types of activities as leaving a trail of breadcrumbs back to your engagement centers. This leads to new fans and sometime, more sales!
3. Be Friend-Worthy:
People are not on your Facebook page to buy anything. They’re on Facebook daring you to post content worthy of their time and expression. They are there to silently cheer you on from the sidelines. Take the time to thank people for joining your page. If they friend your page, friend them with your Facebook profile and treat them like a friend. Don’t make it one way. Post comments on their pages as well and they will return time and time again.
2. Activate Your Audience:
This is one of the hardest things to do on Facebook because of the reasons mentioned above. I’ve created all kinds of contests (Amazon certificate, free autographed copies, best book cover, best book blurb, etc). Several of these contests have led to hundreds of website hits, with many visitors voting, then browsing the my websites. Browsing has led to sales. At worst, the promotions have led to viral sharing of our fan pages thus increasing awareness of our various brands.
1. Make it EASY to Buy your Book:
Why not make it easy for your fans to buy your book right off your page? Aren’t they on Facebook all day anyway? There are free apps that allow you to create fan page tabs where anyone can buy books directly from your Facebook fan pages. You can also post buy page links on a regular schedule (without spamming) and encourage sharing among your fans. This makes the fan to true fan transition easier than ever.
Now that we’ve discussed Facebook, let’s demystify Twitter!