Guest Post by WANA International Facebook Expert Lisa Hall-Wilson
I’m not going to try and convince you of how awesome Facebook is – though Kristen is a happy convert. I’m not going to explain away all of the bad press about privacy issues or how addictive the site is. If you hate Facebook, that’s OK. But make sure you hate it for the right reasons.
I LOVE Facebook. I was a big fan of the platform before I thought about writing as a career. It just fit really well with my personality. I’m one of those people who isn’t afraid to share personal things, poke fun at myself, shake my fist at the sky, share my corner of the world with…the world.
But not everyone is like that. What if you’re a writer/author and every conference you attend, every blog post about building platform you read, tells you Facebook is one place you HAVE to be.
I met a woman at a conference recently where I was teaching about using Facebook to build platform. She didn’t want to use her real name, post pictures of her family, reveal where she lived, or share anything remotely personal at all. She just wanted to post links about her writing and her blog. Could I help her get more fans?
And I said – maybe Facebook isn’t the right platform for you.
She didn’t find that helpful. In fact, she was upset with me.
But here’s the hard truth – Facebook is personal. If you don’t want to be personal, maybe Facebook isn’t the right platform for you. That’s not an indictment on your writing or placing a glass ceiling on your writing career. Maybe Twitter or G+ or Tumblr or Instagram is a better place for you to be found.
Facebook is big, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing by any means. Whenever we start building our author platform, we need to honestly look at our strengths and acknowledge what we are and aren’t willing to do.
Contrary to popular opinion, not EVERY big name author enjoys Facebook. The difference is many of them pay someone else to administrate their Page and post links to their blog. Nora Roberts, for instance, is up front about the fact that she doesn’t personally spend time on her Facebook Page, and all the posts are from an admin named Laura or Team Nora.
There are plenty of authors who have a placeholder Page on Facebook that points fans to a Twitter account, or a blog or a website. What they’re saying is – you can find out more about my writing here on Facebook, but you can connect with me on <insert other platform>. In other words – they don’t spend time on Facebook. Just be open.
And the author’s engagement is reflected in their community on Facebook. Nora Roberts has twice as many Facebook fans as Laurell Hamilton, but Laurell gets more than twice the engagement from her fans on each update.
Nora’s admin posts links to her blog, book covers, etc. Laurel posts pics of herself on vacation, at a friend’s wedding – asks for input on novels she’s writing. It’s different. It’s evident when someone doesn’t like Facebook, and fewer fans will show up for you than for someone who really enjoys Facebook.
What Readers Want
Readers are looking for three main things from authors on Facebook: behind-the-scenes glimpses into the writer’s life and writing process (your life behind the writing – they want to see Oz), advance scoops on new releases, sales and upcoming events, and they’re looking for insider access.
Readers are NOT going to Facebook to buy books.
Facebook’s search feature isn’t set up to do this well. I don’t know of any big author selling books directly from Facebook (using F-commerce) because they’d rather people bought books from Amazon (or another online retailer) for the sales rankings and reviews.
And don’t think I can’t hear the whining. I don’t understand why it’s like that!? Why can’t I post what I want to? I shouldn’t have to post about anything personal.
It’s not about us. Facebook is about offering value and building a community/tribe. Give stuff away (like free writing – your blog posts, a manifesto, etc.), be personal, be authentic.
When we are huge enough to have the fan base of Nora Roberts or Stephen King, and can pay someone else to manage our community on Facebook, then we can have them post whatever we like and people will still engage at some level. But it will never be the thriving community one will find on the Pages of authors like Laurell Hamilton or Ted Dekker.
We get out of it what we put in.
Decide what we are willing to share. If you don’t want to post pics of your kids? Don’t. Don’t want anyone to see pictures of your last vacation? Don’t share. There’s lots of other things to talk about to give readers/fans what they’re looking for. Snap a photo with your phone on your morning walk and share that—why did you think it was beautiful/thought-provoking/inspiring?
What are you working on? What are you researching? What does your writing space look like? What are you reading – why? Where are you going to be speaking? These are all things that you would probably share with a complete stranger at a writer’s conference – Facebook shouldn’t be any different.
Of course share your blog posts. Everything you post must offer value to fans (and people OTHER than writers), and answer one of the above needs.
If fans don’t care about you, they’re less likely to buy your book.
Do you find it difficult to share personal things on Facebook? Do you think writers/authors are too personal? I’d love to hear what you think.
I’m teaching a 1.5hr interactive webinar on September 19 on using your Profile to Build Platform. Find out more here. Use the code Lisa20 for 20% off. You can also find me teaching about Facebook at WANACon, a digital writers conference through WANA International.
Kristen here! Thanks, Lisa for the post, but I’d like make two important points here to close out Lisa’s article. First, there is A LOT to this job that involves doing stuff we don’t like. Successful people suck it up and do what it takes to succeed. If our goal is to write full-time and be paid to do what we LOVE, we’re going to have to make the tough choices.
I don’t like doing taxes, which you will DO A LOT OF once you start selling books. But, since I don’t want to write from federal prison where I am doing time for tax evasion? I do the taxes. I hate taxes, but hate prison MORE.
Just know that Facebook is NOT that hard. A little goes a LONG way.
The second point I’ll make is often we don’t “like” a thing or “enjoy” a platform because we don’t understand it. I was the same with Twitter AND Facebook.
Me: Facebook’s a witch!!!! Burn it!
Lisa: Why do you think Facebook’s a witch?
Me: Because it looks like one! Shiny buttons? “Friends”? “Boost post?” BURNNNNN IT!
Facebook: Um, THE PROGRAMMERS put these buttons on me. I can’t help it. I’m not a witch.
Me: Burn it ANYWAY! Toss it in a pond and see if it floats!
Lisa: Kristen, calm down. Facebook isn’t a witch and you might want to cut back on the Monty Python.
And I am not saying y’all must participate on Facebook, but I AM saying there isn’t a single job in the world that only requires us to do all the glittery stuff we love. We need to do the cost-benefit analysis. If ten-twenty minutes a day on Facebook could increase your fan base and build relationships that translated into book sales, could you get past your distaste?
Consider that you might not like Facebook simply because you don’t understand it. I know Lisa changed my entire outlook on Facebook once I understood what my main goals needed to be…and all the buttons I could happily ignore.
Thank you, Lisa for another great post!
And I love hearing your comments! Comments on guest posts get double points.
To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
As y’all know, WANACon is coming soon. I’ve recruited the BEST of the BEST. Learn from the likes of Les Edgerton, NYTBSA Allison Brennan, Best-Selling Author Candace Havens, Award-Winning Author David Corbett and more. Twenty-seven sessions to help you grow in craft and social media from home and recordings are provided for free, which is essentially $5.50 a class. Check out the line-upHERE.
My Antagonist class is in days (Sept. 20th) and this one is a early class, which is ideal for those who need a daytime class or for any of our overseas peeps.
I’m also offering an evening version on October 16th. These classes starts at a basic level $49 (webinar, recording and detailed notes) and go up to $249 (on the phone/in the digital classroom helping you plot a series or trilogy). Use WANA15 to get 15% off.