Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Facebook

Image via Frank Selmo WANA Commons
Image via Frank Selmo WANA Commons

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.

What then?

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.

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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.

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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.

WANA Facebook Maven Lisa-Hall Wilson
WANA Facebook Maven Lisa-Hall Wilson

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

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.

I can't help they keep changing my layout.
I can’t help they keep changing my layout.

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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Announcements:

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.

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Yesterday we started talking about Facebook and ways to make friends and influence enemies. Just so y’all know, the writer who insulted me is now a peep. We kept talking. I apologized for having the skin of a grape and this person told me I was right and they had NO idea the tone of the message was as insulting as it was.

We chatted about social media and WANA ways and had a blast, and it was awesome to make a new friend. This writer felt super bad. But, I mentioned that it all worked out for the better because, had I not been insulted, we would never have talked and gotten to know how much we had in common (though I do not recommend insulting people to make friends).

See, told you guys sometimes tough love is in order ;).

So What’s the Deal?

I believe most of the problems with writers mishandling Facebook stems from a failure to understand how Facebook works. Between urban legends and plain dumb social media advice, writers are inadvertently making social media WAY harder than it has to be because they are fracturing their focus and diffusing all their efforts.

Thus, today we are going to start doing a little myth busting.

My Friends and Family Don’t Care About Writing Stuff

Okay, friends and family, regular people? That is code for “READER.” Writers all create one big happy writer party and talk to each other, but writers can only buy so many books. And frankly?

We are oversold and worn out.

If we only include writers, our platforms can easily become inbred and then all they do is drink cheap beer and listen to Tammy Wynette….then start firing a shotgun in the air. Keep it up and your platform will bring home a bass boat.

Moving on…

It’s estimated that as much as 75% of the population believes they would one day love to write a book. This means THREE-FOURTHS of the population believes they are writers….even though they aren’t writing. So if we cut out regular people, we are actually just cutting out people fascinated by writers and writing. They LOVE writers, even if it is to be a fly on the wall and maybe catch on to how we create the magic.

Sure friends and family might give us a hard time about deciding to write, but often this is birthed by jealousy. They believe they have stories to tell, they just haven’t found the bravery to do it. They will often be the best salespeople we have, even if they don’t read what we write.

Okay, Even If They Don’t Care

Humans are a helpful bunch. How do we show love? We give unsolicited advice, provide solutions, and answer questions. If Aunt Lola doesn’t like vampire books, but a lady in her sewing circle complains that she needs to get a gift for her granddaughter who is slap-happy in LOVE with vampires? Who will Aunt Lola INSTANTLY think of?

This is called “word of mouth.”

quilters

But I Will Fill Up Their Feed With Stuff They Don’t Care About

Remember I said you need to understand how Facebook works? Facebook wants you to have as pleasant of an experience as possible because…um, then you show up and get addicted and let dinner burn because you’re too busy quoting Bruce Campbell on an Army of Darkness thread on Kristen’s wall.

Newsfeeds will only show content from people we have engaged with. So if your family or coworkers could give a flying patooty about writing? Odds are they are never “Liking” or commenting on those threads, so guess what? Your stuff eventually won’t appear in their news feeds (and never underestimate the modern human’s ability to ignore stuff that doesn’t interest them).

This is why fan pages can be a serious sticky wicket. We can’t engage with a monument to someone’s ego.

If all I am posting on my fan page is information about my book or signing events or promotions, it’s more of the advertising we are all scrambling to escape. Modern humans are BOMBARDED with ads and can’t even go to the BATHROOM without an ad shoved up our nose. For more on this, read my post:

Why Settle for Your Reader’s Wallet When You Can Get in Her PANTS?

We don’t like ads. We don’t share them and we cannot connect with them. We are also in an age of information GLUT. How many of you woke up this morning and thought, “You know what I need? More crap to READ!” I hear social media experts tell writers to provide information. Be experts. Post links to articles.

For the love of chocolate, NO!

No offense, but novelists are not experts, you are storytellers. 

The blunt truth is that if we need to know something we will google it. But aside from that, I want to point out something VERY IMPORTANT. Information connects on the LEFT side of the brain, the analytical side. FICTION, however, is emotional.

***This works for NF writers, too, btw.

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT TO SELL A RIGHT-BRAIN PRODUCT WITH A LEFT-BRAIN APPROACH? That makes no sense. Even home insurance commercials try to connect with emotion. They don’t pay for a thirty minute commercial about statistics. They post THIS:

Let Us CARE

This is why it is especially important for fiction authors to engage. Connect emotionally. You have an emotional product. People can’t connect emotionally to yet another DBW article about how Barnes & Noble’s stock is tanking.

They CAN however connect to kittens, Sharknado, tales of missing socks, superheroes, kid stories, pet stories, Mayhem and Grumpy Cat. They have more to say about bacon than Smashwords or our book being free on KDP.

There are writers who seriously believe that Facebook is out to get them because their fan pages are being hidden. NO. It’s just that, in the Digital Age, there is a steep price for being boring.

It isn’t your job to visit my author page to pay homage to Kristen’s ego.

Engage us, talk to us, stop selling to us and guess what? We will like coming to your page. And we will have fun and “Like” stuff, comment and SHARE your content. Then guess what?

And this is the cool part.

Since people will enjoy hanging out and talking on your page?  Your fan page (or personal page) will show up in their news feeds. You won’t have to pay to promote. Awesome, right?

Common Sense

How many of you loooooove hanging out with people who won’t stop talking about themselves? What? No one? *crickets chirping*

So if this behavior isn’t a good idea for dating, the workplace or a dinner party, then why in the name of marshmallow peeps is this considered a good plan on social media? How many of you have a family member or friend who never talks to you unless she is selling Amway, Avon or vitamins?

Do we like those friends/family members? Or do we filter their calls?

Use the Tool, Don’t BE One

Facebook has over a BILLION active users so it is highly advantageous for authors to use it, but it’s a tool. We need to use tools properly or we will wear ourselves out and look stupid…like using a nail gun to slice a pork roast. Makes a mess, is ineffective and renders said victim pork roast inedible.

In my new book talk a lot more about Facebook and the advantages and disadvantages of both the personal page and fan page and how to manage them without ending up on a roof armed and shouting, “This is my BOOM-STICK!”

Lisa-Hall Wilson, our WANA Facebook expert will also have classes up at WANA International sometime today. Her classes are FANTASTIC and she is super generous with Facebook tips every Friday on the WANA International fan page.

So any AH-HA! moments? Thoughts, observations? Tales about using a nail gun to slice a pork roast? (Please include pictures).

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, 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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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On yesterday’s post a few of you had questions regarding Facebook. Thus, I deferred to our WANA International Facebook expert, Lisa Hall-Wilson to address your concerns.

Take it away, Lisa!

***

Facebook is my happy place. I spend a lot of time there and manage pages for nonprofits and curate content on a few other pages including the MyWANA page. Yesterday, there were a few comments here about Facebook, so Kristen asked me step in. Time to go all Crazy Canuck.

Tough Love with Lisa

You’re asking the wrong questions when it comes to Facebook. Time to take off the ski gloves and tuque. Let’s get some things straight. Facebook is about relationships.

Here’s some tough love. *pats pet beaver on head*

There’s a reason your Facebook page isn’t doing well. Don’t blame edge rank. Don’t blame the Zuck. If you go canoeing on Lake Superior without a paddle you’re… well, we know how that ends. Superior is a big a$$ lake that changes its mood without warning, you’re competing with giant ships and freighters on the radar and all you’re doing is waving your arms in the air.

You know what the little boats do to navigate a big lake? They stick together! WANAs stick together.

This is what a WANA platform looks like and YES, we have a Bouncy House.
This is what a WANA platform looks like and YES, we have a Bouncy House.

It’s time to take the string off your mittens and put away the kiddie snow shovel. I’m going to really dish here on what’s not working. *Throws extra paddle*

This is stuff I typically save for my 6 week course on Facebook, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We’re writers! We Are Not Alone. Chin up. Pen out.

1.     You have no plan.

How do you measure success if you don’t know what you want your page to do for you? Where’s the line between pass and fail? Writers/Authors on social media, essentially, are selling themselves (your humor, your insights, your knowledge, your expertise), not what your product can do.

What are the BIG authors using Facebook for? They’re NOT using Facebook to sell books. They’re using FB to build community/tribe (aka: relationships), give inside scoops/info/deals, drive traffic to another site (like their website or Amazon), and they’re using it to build an email list.

2.     You aren’t meeting a need.

Fans connect with authors on Facebook for access. They want a look behind the curtain – they want to see OZ. When you post a comment on a favorite writer/artist/band’s page, how elated are you if they respond to YOUR comment? Nonfiction authors are offering their expertise – their wisdom. They give loads of advice away – for FREE. And…wait for it…people still buy their books. Where do you get your ideas? What are you researching? What opportunities are you excited about?

Identify your brand, and stick to it. Have a plan to answer these needs. Be intentional. Be approachable. Be REAL.

3.     Your content sucks.

I mean this in the nicest possible way. *here’s a piece of maple fudge* Would you share the stuff you’re posting? Be honest. Blog titles are huge factors in share-ability, so are images. Is it all about you all the time – your blog, your books, your contests, etc.? Always always provide value. This is the WANA way. For every ten posts, only one should be self-promotional – at best! Don’t be that lone canoe on Superior!

  • Share things YOU care about, are meaningful to YOU. What makes you mad, what makes you shake your fist at the world, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry. (Because people want to see OZ – they want to get to know you.)
  • Fans are drawn to writers because we’re thinkers and observers – share your quirky humor, your passions, editorial comments, etc.
  • Be positive. Nobody wants to hang out with the guy on a soap-box, the Debbie-downer, or listen to constant cries for help.

4.     You’re splitting your brand.

You have how many pages? You know how many you need? One. 1. Uno. That’s it. When you’re Nicholas Sparks and Hollywood options every book you publish you can set up pages for your books, until then you need one author page. You don’t need one for your blog(s), for your cat, for your book.

Seriously.

Just one.

5.     You never show up!

Remember the main reason why fans search out authors on Facebook? They want to see OZ. They want access to you they ordinarily would have to travel to a book signing or writer’s conference to have. Respond quickly. Respond compassionately. Actually care. Just posting a link to your blog is not showing up. Blasting BUY MY BOOK spam is not showing up. Why should fans show up if you never do?

6.     You’re forcing yourself to be something you’re not.

Some of you started a page because somebody who sells ‘stuff’ (like vacuum cleaners, or blenders, or shoes) told you to. This is why you need a plan. (See #1) Decide what you want a page to do. Maybe you’re better using a profile?

I posted about whether you should use a profile or a page on Jami Gold’s site. I’m also giving away a free 1hr webinar which answers whether you should use a profile or page sponsored by TechSurgeons. If you read the post on Jami’s site and want to know more, the webinar goes deeper into the topic. Currently, that webinar is only available to my newsletter subscribers. Subscribe here .

As a way to share some WANA love, I’m offering two free critiques of your Facebook platform (page or profile). Leave the url for your page or profile in the comments, and I’ll draw names on Friday May, 31 from all the entries.  If you want to dive deeper into running a Facebook page, I’m offering a two-part webinar which will answer the most frequently asked questions I get from writers about running a page on Facebook. Use the code Lisa20 for 20% off.

Are you guilty of any of these problems? Do you wish you also had a pet beaver? If you have a question related to Facebook, I’ll hang out here and do my best to answer.

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The Spawn when he was “new.”

We all have to guard against fantastical thinking. When we are new writers, we think, “When I get this book finished, then it will get easier.” When, I land an agent…” “Once I score a publishing deal…” “Once I hit a best-seller list, then…”

There are certain things that with time and practice will get easier. Social media, blogging and even writing do get easier over time. Once our author platform is built and we understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, we go into a maintenance phase. We might hit some spots that require more work and attention, but overall, it does get better. When I started blogging, a post that took me half a day now takes a half an hour. Why? Practice. Experience.

A lot of us, our first novel takes three to six (okay, ten) years. Get that under our belt and each novel takes less and less time, provided we fully understand the fundamentals of our craft. For instance, when I began playing clarinet, fingering the notes was enough to make me break out in a sweat. I didn’t have the muscle memory and hadn’t logged enough practice where I could get lost in the technique of the music. I had to do too much “thinking.” Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star might as well have been Flight of the Bumblebee.

This is one of the reasons I love the new paradigm. Blogging teaches us to ship. These days, we can let go of the work (“publish”) and keep pressing forward, writing more books and progressively better books.

Technology changes. We just about learn how to use our fan page, and Facebook rearranges the digital furniture and changes the rules. By the way, we have an upcoming class—Facebook Changes? We Got This. The benefit of taking a WANA class with Lisa is you get a lifetime membership to her group, so as Facebook changes, you can quickly and easily adapt and not have to pay for a new class.

Anyway, Facebook aside, as a career, this writing thing will never get easier.

It will just be different. It makes me think of rearing children. When they’re a newborn, we can’t wait until they sleep through the night. Oh, when they get older, it will be easier. Uh-huh. But then they’re toddlers and yes, they sleep through the night, but now they can climb, paint the world with poo, and start having free will.

Bat Spawn and his trusty minion, Lazr Cat. And, no. I have NO idea how he got up there.
Bat Spawn and his trusty minion, Lazr Cat. And, no. I have NO idea how he got up there.

I tell ya, once the little buggers get free will, it’s all uphill from there.

When you have a toddler, suddenly that newborn that slept 80% of the day looks AWESOME. Oh, but once our kiddo is out of the toddler phase, then it will be easier.

I think you guys probably have the point.

Each phase of development has benefits and challenges. When our children are newborns, we don’t have to worry about their friends, their grades, or if they are wearing makeup behind our backs. We don’t have to keep up with their homework.

Science proves that newborns are lousy at turning in homework.

We just about get the kid out of middle school and then we have to ponder handing them the keys to 5,000 pounds of moving metal death (a car) and then paying for college and a wedding and…

Okay, I really want to go watch Bubble Guppies right now.

Guess who found Daddy's chocolate?
Guess who found Daddy’s chocolate?

This is a lot like our author career. Enjoy wherever you are. Enjoy your meantime. Yes, each stage has challenges. When we aren’t even finished with our first book, we can’t even tell other people we’re writers without feeling like a fraud. The upside? We don’t have to panic at sales numbers and reviews and wonder if the next book will be at least as good. I’ve worked with mega-authors like Sandra Brown, and it is hard to imagine the pressure that every book will hit the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Anything less is “failure.”

This job is easier if we’re realistic. The newborn stage, yes we are checking every thirty seconds to make sure our career is breathing. Was is a victim of SIDS? Sudden Inspiration Death Syndrome? But there is all kinds of joy ahead. Watching that novel stand then walk then grow on its own and make way for the next. It will never be easier. It will be different. But if we are doing what we love (writing) all the sleepless nights, worry, grief, pain, insecurity will all be worth it.

What are your thoughts? Did you suffer from magical thinking in the beginning and experience has taught you better? Do you think I am being too harsh? Does the future scare you? Excite you? What are you looking forward to? What will you miss giving up?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, 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. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. 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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of March I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!