Good morning. Today, we’re continuing our foray into social media/networking with Jeannie Ruesch of Will Design for Chocolate. Jeannie will illuminate us on Facebook, specifically the difference between a “friends” account and a fan page, how to link them to your sites and how to maximize your Facebook connection with your fans.
Thanks for having me back, RU Crew!
If you missed last month’s post, I gave the details on how to build a plan for Twitter. This post will help you to build a plan around using Facebook for marketing purposes and how to make it work for you instead of suck the hours from your day. (Hint #1: Stay away from the games.)
Finding the Time
One thing about social media — there is always something to tweet about, or someone else’s posts to read. It can consume a tremendous amount of time if you let it. Sometimes, I think people look at the possibilities for life domination by social media and shy away to avoid it. But it doesn’t have to control your life. Social media is like an employee – it’s supposed to work for YOU.
Going into social media without setting your own boundaries would be like giving a new employee a signed blank check. It would be a matter of seconds before they spend crazy amounts. So don’t give social media a blank check of your time. To quote one of my favorite movies, “We say who. We say when. We say how much.”
To make any sort of social media community work for you on a business level, you have to make a plan. You have to allot the amount of time you can spend, the resources you have to devote to it and work from there.
And one very important aspect: separate out the time you interact with friends and family on Facebook versus the time you spend actually connecting/building with your readership or networking. Time is as important an investment as money, and when you’re a writer, sometimes more so. Consider your minutes like gold coins and hand them out with care.
So let’s make your Facebook community work for you:
Friends versus Fans — which do you want?
There are two ways to join the Facebook community:
1. Create a personal profile for yourself and become friends with others.
2. Create a business page that others can “like”.
Let’s look at the differences in how each works:
Managing Your Facebook profile
A profile works best when you wish to communicate equally with someone else. By creating your profile and “adding a friend”, you are both agreeing to see each other’s updates. This is great when you are dealing with your friends, family and old acquaintances. It can also work for you when you wish to network with others in the publishing industry – other writers, agents, editors, etc.
If you’re concerned that the agent you aspire to have won’t want to read about your cat’s trip to the vet, you’re probably right. Though it is pretty simple to skim the news feed that comes from your friends’ list, you can use List and Locks to help manage your profile.
Whenever you add a friend, you have the option to add them to a list. This is a tremendous tool, one you should get in the habit of using. It’s invaluable to help stay on track with your time and goals for using Facebook.
1. You can Choose Who See Your Status Updates.
If you separate your friends into lists, such as “family, Friends, Writers Network”, etc, when you make your status updates, you can choose which lists see the updates. So if you’re writing about the dog, the cat, or just something more private, you can keep those updates to those closest to you.
2. You can view statuses by list only.
This is terrific when you’re looking to focus the time you spend on Facebook. (A must when using Facebook for business purposes.)
If you have allocated ten minutes toward building your professional connections, you need to make sure those ten minutes are doing only that. One excellent way is to categorize your friends into lists.
Lists can include:
- Writers Network
- Agents & Editors
- New Friends
Facebook is terrific in that it brings together all the factions of your life, but you won’t always communicate with those groups in the same way. Let’s say I want to spend five minutes on networking. I can click on my “Writers Network” list and see all the writers and authors I am friends with. I can leave comments, read updates and check in …and just as easily check out. It makes those five minutes clear, concise and well spent.
Along with using the lists above, you can set locks (permissions) on your status updates, your photo galleries and other things you add to your profile.
When you post a status update, if you wish to control who sees it, click on the little lock icon. If you select “Customize”, this will allow you to choose among your lists. Only the lists you select will see that update. The same is true of your photo albums.
Essentially, wherever you see that little lock icon it offers you options on who sees what in your profile. Using the lists can help you focus your activities and your time spent, it also allows you to choose whether the agent you admire sees everything you post about your family.
Managing a “Fan” or Business Page
When it comes to readers or fans of your work, less can be more. Since a profile requires equal sharing of personal information, readers may not feel comfortable befriending you. However, “liking” your business/Writer page is simple and easy and helps them stay connected. It’s also been set up within Facebook that you can connect this directly through your website.
There are basics I often see overlooked in Facebook Fan Pages, though. Readers like your page and visit your page for two things:
If you aren’t providing both of these, your fan page needs an overhaul.
Once you have a fan page, you actually have to post on it. J (I know, darnit.) I’m guilty of forgetting this myself and sometimes it can be impossible to think of what to say.
If you do actively use your Profile and your Fan Page, treat them differently. Truly focus on the audience and post for them. Maybe one way to separate the two is share aspects of your work on your fan page and leave the more personal aspects to your profile page. Remember the goal is to interact. Ask questions, answer ones commonly asked (such as every writer’s favorite, where do you get your ideas?). Yes, it’s “all about you”, but the conversation with your followers shouldn’t be.
Hold Facebook-only contests. Give away autographed copies of your book (or someone else’s) or ARCs or maybe even a gift basket of things that tie into your book.
Does your Fan Page have information abut your upcoming releases? Or your current release? An easy way to find your website or an easy click-to-buy link for your books? One reason a Fan Page works as great marketing is the ability to share all the details about you as the author and your work, but you’d be surprised how few authors give that information on their fan pages. Post your reviews. Book trailers. Videos. Post tidbits of your current story. Give additional insight into you that they won’t find on your website or elsewhere (such as your all-consuming love of Smores Ice Cream. Oh wait, that’s me…)
Sometimes it seems like double the effort, but the goal is to remain engaged with your readers before, during and after you have a book on the shelves.
Ultimately, the best elements of a successful fan page will include the following:
1. A branded experience targeted to your audience
For a writer this means post with the voice your books offer. Are you quirky? Come up with quirky, off-the-wall things to comment on. If you’re a suspense writer, share your top scariest movies moments.
2. Having a conversation with you.
Posting your updates and making them relevant is only part of the equation. When folks take the time to comment back, stay engaged. Reply. You may not have the time to reply to all of them and that’s okay. But one or two blanket statements so that folks know you’ve read them, you’ve seen them, can make a world of difference.
Some Common Mistakes
When authors and writers set up their fan pages and profile, I see a lot of common mistakes that can minimize the effectiveness of your efforts.
- Don’t post the same status update on both your profile and fan pages. If someone is connected to both your profile and your fan page, seeing you post exactly the same thing to both can feel like being spammed. Eventually, when people see double on a regular basis, they’ll stop reading and you’ve lost the connection. Facebook works because it feels personal. Tailor your posts to the audience at hand. A profile is meant to be more personal.
- Use a different picture for your profile on each page you have. When your status updates come up, they see your profile picture thumbnail and your words. It helps to show a separation.
- Reply to comments. If you’ve posted and people have responded, be sure to engage them back. They like to be heard, and being acknowledged by you can make a world of difference. Being ignored by you repeatedly can, as well.
Don’t forget: Linking to/from your website
Because Facebook is the proverbial lunch room, you want to drive traffic in a strong flow between your website and your Facebook page. There are simple ways to do that by adding plugins to your site (whether it’s made in HTML or WordPress or something else entirely.) WordPress offers a large amount of plugins to make the steps easy, so do a search for “Facebook” and you’ll find plenty to choose from. The other option is to go to the Facebook Plugins page at http://developers.facebook.com/plugins . From here, you can choose the type of link to Facebook you want your site to have: from a simple “LIKE” button to more complex options like using a Facebook login to interact on your website.
Over Saturation through Inter-connectivity
There are also apps that will allow you to connect your Twitter accounts to your Facebook, as well as pulling in your blog posts. This is certainly open for debate and you have to choose what is the best option for you, but my advice is to error on the side of caution. This creates a seamless connection between twitter and your blog and your Facebook pages. If you have your twitter feed automatically posting to your Facebook, and your blog automatically posting to your twitter feed, someone who reads ALL of those will get the information in triple. It’s a quick way to get them to tune out and stop reading what you have to say.
If you’re depending on your twitter and blog feeds to populate your Facebook pages, then you aren’t using it for what it’s intended. Facebook is a community, meant for conversation and interaction. To automate your process too much means you’re missing out on the best benefits it offers.
Finally, Measuring Results
Fan pages offer the opportunity to measure your results through Facebook Insights. On the left sidebar of your fan page, you’ll see a box titled “Insights”. Only the admin can see this box, and if you click on “see all”, it will give you details about the traffic on your site. You need a certain number of fans to see geographical information, but you can measure the growth rate and interaction rate of your fans. But much of this is intuitive — you know if people are responding to you. If they aren’t, mix up what you post, add something new and don’t be afraid to try.
Ultimately, social media can work for you as well as you want it to. Always keep the goals in mind when interacting on a business level.
RU Crew, tell us about your experience with Facebook. Do you have a fan page? If so, how do you make it effective for you?
Jeannie, thanks for continuing this fantastic special series! Drop by tomorrow when Theresa Stevens, Publisher, STAR Guides Publishing, talks about first meets between the hero and heroine.
Jeannie’s Bio: It was a Saturday afternoon when Jeannie Ruesch gave up her illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader (after seeing the made for TV movie). That day, she sat to write her very first story and when she was finished, she knew that pen ..or rather, pencil and collegiate-lined paper was the path for her. She was six. She finished her first two books in 7th grade—handwritten on 150 legal size pages and complete with hearts dotting the I’s, of course.
As an adult, however, she discovered the need to…well, pay for things. In her words, she “paid a lot of money to go to school, get a degree and go beg for work.” She began her career in marketing and design and continues to this day, with her graphic design and marketing business, Will Design for Chocolate. She considers herself fortunate that her passion of writing and her other love go hand in hand so nicely.
In 2008, she sold her first completed novel (as an adult and written on a computer this time) to The Wild Rose Press– a historical romance that has been a labor of love from the start. “It’s been through four or five revisions, including one complete scrap-it-and-start-over, and has been a wonderful tool for learning how to be a better writer.”
She is also the creator of the WIP Notebook, a writer’s tool to help stay organized while you write.
Now with a few more tools in her author’s tool belt, her first published book, and a drawer full of emergency chocolate, she has a lot more stories to tell. She lives in Northern California with her husband (who is likely tired of having his brain picked on the ‘male perspective’), their son and her brother, who she thanks every day (since he cooks and she hates to.)
- Shifting Your Social Media Perspective with Laura Kaye
- From Jane Austen to Jane Jetson – Making Yourself At Home Online with Pamela Mason
- Handling Your Social Media: 5 Steps to Using Twitter
- Marketing for Authors with Jillian Dodd
- Websites 101: What the Newly Published Author Needs