Posted On September 16, 2010 by Print This Post

Handling Your Social Media: Facebook Fans or Friends?

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.

Welcome, Jeannie!

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.

Lists

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:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • 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.

Locks

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:

  • Interaction
  • Information

If you aren’t providing both of these, your fan page needs an overhaul.

Interaction

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.

Information

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.)

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Discussion

21 Responses to “Handling Your Social Media: Facebook Fans or Friends?”

  1. Hi Jeannie,

    Thanks for a fabulous post! Well, I’m guilty of many of the mistakes you’ve outlined. My fan page is built from my profile (had no idea how to do it otherwise) and I “Liked” my fan page, so my posts go to both the profile and fan page. I’ll eventually phase out my profile, because I only use FB for writing purposes.

    I also have my FB, Twitter and MySpace accounts linked. Seemed like a good way to update all three communities on what’s going on. I used to have my blog linked to FB, but it takes FOREVER for the post to feed into FB, so I disconnected. However, I still let folks know about the post.

    I wish the fan page had a way of telling us that we have comments like the profile does, but I could see how this would get out of hand if you’re really popular writer.

    Thanks again,
    Tracey

    Posted by TraceyDevlyn | September 16, 2010, 5:46 am
    • Hey Tracey! You know, I’m sure there are people who would argue with me on the “common mistakes.” For some folks, the only way to stay involved in social media is to automate it and make it as easy as possible. But I also truly, truly believe that in doing so, you’re missing out on the benefits.

      You also said “I’ll eventually phase out my profile, because I only use FB for writing purposes.” I would caution against that, for one good reason. Networking. Here’s an example, let’s say at an RWA Conference, you meet Ms. Jane Editor, you have a great chat, you exchange Facebook info. Now what if she doesn’t have a fan page? What if all she has is a “friends” page? Let’s say she “likes” your page, but unless you befriend her, you won’t see her updates. Right there, you’re losing a terrific opportunity for networking.

      I really think, for writers, you can look at your profile and your fan page as serving too different purposes. Your fan page promotes your business, it promotes “Tracey Devlyn, Author.” Your profile allows you to connect and network.

      And ITA that I wish there was an easier way to work with Fan Pages and comments. If I find one I’ll let you know! LOL

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 12:09 pm
  2. Hi Jeannie. I’m guilty too. I have FB and Twitter feeding each other. Now, how do I turn that off? LOL.

    Thank you for another great post. I always learn something new.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | September 16, 2010, 7:29 am
    • Hey Ad!

      I have to admit, of the two – Facebook and Twitter – I’m more a Facebook girl. I just find it easier to keep connected. For me, to really get involved in Twitter involves more time investment than I have. 🙂 And I like the “bulletin board” concept of Facebook.

      There’s also another reason to reconsider automatic updates between Twitter and Facebook. The comments. If you’re autoupdating Facebook from your Twitter account, are you checking to see if comments were made on Facebook?

      Granted, I know for a lot of people, the ease of it matters more. So if someone it adamant about keeping them connected, I would only make the suggestion to be sure that there are posts between your repeats. Make sure, no matter how you manage it, that there is fresh content on both and that you are following up on comments on both. Or choose one to primarily work with and stick with that.

      (And I think you can cancel it by going into your Apps in Facebook, if you want to.)

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 12:15 pm
      • I’m more of a Facebook girl. I tend to check FB every day to see what my peeps are up to. Twitter, not so much. I’ve tried to force myself to check Twitter and I’m usually good for a little while and then I drop off. Sigh…

        I may have to just stick with FB for awhile. Thanks, Jeannie!

        Posted by Adrienne Giordano | September 16, 2010, 12:47 pm
        • Adrienne, I’m the same as you, honestly. I end up checking into twitter every so often but it’s not a natural place for me. Facebook is, though — and I check it daily. In fact friends and I tend to email each other more THROUGH Facebook than outside of these days. LOL

          Find what’s comfortable for you and make it work. You’ll have a better shot at success if you choose one to do really well, rather than try to handle two not as well.

          Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 1:17 pm
  3. As always – great info! I love FB and am using it as my “jumping off” point – still nervous about Twitter. Thanks for the info!

    Posted by Robin Covington | September 16, 2010, 8:37 am
    • Hey Robin! As I mentioned above, I’m a Facebook girl. I have both, I use both, but for me Facebook wins because it’s easier to connect. Yes, I have twitter lists and I use Seesmic desktop to access my twitter accounts, but I still like Facebook better. 🙂 I find it more workable when I only have five minutes here, ten minutes there to stay involved. With Twitter it can be a matter of wading through tons of tweets.

      Facebook is a great place to get your feet wet into social media.

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 12:44 pm
  4. Morning Jeannie!

    Grrrrrrrrrrrreat post! I started a list once, scared myself and never went back! lol…Now I’m really going to have to dive back in there and sort that out, I’m sure some of the publishing companies I like don’t want to know about my hairy legs!

    =)

    Thanks Jeannie…great information as always!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | September 16, 2010, 8:47 am
    • Well, remember in terms of terminology, if you “like” a page, it’s a fan page and it means that they are not seeing your status updates. It’s a one-way connection.

      If you “add a friend” and they accept the add, it means you see each other’s statuses and profiles – a two-way connection. (Or however much of the profiles they allow with permissions.)

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 12:47 pm
  5. This is great information. I’ve been avoiding FB because it seems so sprawling and untamed, like the Wild West. LOL But you’ve explained it really well, so I may jump in. . .one of these days!

    I’m a fan of Twitter, even though I avoided that until just a few months ago. 🙂 I also have my website, so I’m wondering if I can wait on FB until I’ve sold a book. At this point I don’t know that I have any information to put on FB that would generate any interest. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Posted by Donna Cummings | September 16, 2010, 9:24 am
    • Hi Donna,

      It’s easy to look at Facebook (or Twitter) for that fact and say, “I have nothing worthwhile to say.) I think that all the time. 😉

      But don’t underestimate the value of being on Facebook and commenting on OTHER’s topics and posts. Often times, it will give you ideas, but more it gives you the chance to interact and network.

      Another thing I would HIGHLY recommend is what I’ve said with domains, twitter URLs and others — even if you don’t really intend to use the account much, set it up. Reserve the name, add a picture, any links or information you’ve got. You can wade in the shallow side that way, but you’re ready and set up when you want to dive in.

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 1:05 pm
  6. Whew, Jeannie! This is a keeper lecture for sure.

    Okay, I know the rules of FB: one person, one account. But let’s say…hypothetically speaking…that a writer has both a personal and a professional account because she writes under a pen name. Should she merge these two (and how with two names?) and are the lists the way to absolutely keep her lives separate?

    Thanks a ton!
    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | September 16, 2010, 11:31 am
    • Hey Kels,

      There are a few considerations here. The first is whether or not you WANT your pen name associated with your real one. I know there are people who prefer to keep them separate, for work purposes or other.

      Here’s how I’ve set myself up, so maybe it will give you an idea. I write historical romance under my real name, but I also want to write in an entirely different genre (suspense) under a different name. I’ve created Facebook fan pages for both my name and my Suspense Pen name. However, my profile is in my own name, because ultimately when it comes to networking, I’d do that as “Jeannie” and not “Pen Name.”

      However, should the day come when my suspense sells and I actually have fans reading my suspense novels, they will know me by the Pen name on the book — and that’s what they’ll Google for if they want to find me.

      A good way to consider how to handle pen names and combining is to think of how your readers will search for you — make it as simple as possible.

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 1:15 pm
  7. Hi Jeannie,

    My experience with Facebook is through my children’s accounts. I’m astonished how much other kids put on it. They don’t bother with any restrictions either. If any go into politics or apply for a job, it will be interesting how much Facebook will follow them. Still timid to start my own. When I do, I’m sure my kids will set it up for me, but won’t want to be my “friend”.

    Good advice as always,

    Mary Jo Burke

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | September 16, 2010, 1:43 pm
    • HI Mary Jo! Yes, I know — some people put an amazing amount of things and information on Facebook. And truthfully, that FourSquare program (or whatever the Facebook version is) scares the HECK out of me. It’s just asking for trouble, IMO.

      And for those who don’t know, it’s the program you can “check into” to update your status of where you are. So if you’re at the gym or Starbucks, check in and everyone on your list will know that… which means they also know where you are NOT. Just not worth it for me. But that’s another story. 🙂

      With permissions, lists and locks, you can keep things as private as you want.

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 6:27 pm
  8. Hey Jeannie!

    I started out with one FB page under my real name and then later, I started another one with my pen name so rightnow, the one with my real name has family, friends and more author buddies and writing friends than the one with my pen name. 🙄 And like you stated before, I have the some of the same friends on both pages so I have to be careful not to double post the same thing.

    I finally got a Twitter account. While I don’t check it very often, I like the word limit…it reminds me of the first few words in an opening sentence of a query letter…it either grabs my attention or I’ll pass. 😕 Twitter gives me a quick snapshot of the different things that interest me.

    As always, a great post! Thank you!

    Jen

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | September 16, 2010, 4:04 pm
    • Hi Jen! It can definitely be overwhelming if you have pages under multiple names. I’ve created my suspensey pen name page already, but I haven’t published it anywhere or done a thing with it. Not ready to, but eventually? Yeah, I can see it being a headache. LOL

      Okay, so here’s a totally random question — how many of the RU Crew and visitors write under a pen name? How are you finding the hassles of doubling your efforts, ie domain, social media, etc… If you want to email me your thoughts, I’d love to add the info to an article. Email me at jeannie at willdesignforchocolate dot com.

      Posted by Jeannie Ruesch | September 16, 2010, 6:59 pm
  9. Jeannie –

    Thanks, as always, for a lecture chock-full of useful info. We appreciate all you do for RU!

    Kelsey

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | September 16, 2010, 11:47 pm

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