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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Lisa Hall-Wilson Facebook expert

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.

Bonding with teen writers, LOL....
Bonding with teen writers, LOL….

Writers are NOT salespeople and marketers. We aren’t. If we were AWESOME at sales, we’d be in SALES. Sales pays way better than playing with our imaginary friends and hoping we create something others want to read. In fact—and I might be going out on a limb here—I would wager most of you are not thinking, “Well, I’m only doing this writing thing until I can land my dream job in sales.”

I work to be very forgiving when writers make social media faux pas because I get that you are trying to be responsible and that “sales” is unnatural for most of us. I’ve also dedicated years and a good quarter million words (most of them free) to educating writers the proper way of using social media.

I created WANA methods to let writers focus on what we are best at doing—writing. The WANA approach works. It’s been responsible for selling millions of books and for elevating unknown authors onto best-selling lists. WANA methods are responsible for the 11th best-selling e-book in UK history.

This said…

Putting Our Foot In It

Yet, I still find some REALLY bad advice floating around that can get writers into trouble. Today, we’re going to address Facebook, namely because I received this message yesterday:

FB

Normally, I would just ignore this message, but after being fried from working three weeks straight and being on the road, I replied. Also, I’ve spent the past week yelling at idiot taxis in Manhattan and the New Yorker in me was coming out.

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Instead of apologizing for poor wording and realizing the error, this person plunged ahead and responded with:

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By the way, the assertion that no one else had taken offense? I highly doubt it. I just happened to be tired enough to call out the offensive nature of the message. Also my mother is from New York, so I blame it on her :D.

What Can We Learn From This?

Aside from Kristen shouldn’t answer e-mails when tired because she has the skin of a grape.

Maybe I shouldn’t have engaged this person, but I love writers. Love is not always a fluffy bunny hug. Love sometimes need to be tough and it needs to confront. I know this writer didn’t sit up all night thinking of ways to insult his following, but he was doing just that. This author had clearly been among my Facebook friends for some time and I have to admit, I was pretty hurt by how this message treated me.

Yes, I do have feelings.

But essentially, what this writer was telling me is 1) we aren’t friends 2) we aren’t colleagues 3) oh, but please take your time to go Like my fan page so I can later sell you a book which will require your money and 12 hours of time you don’t have.

Yep, I’m right on that.

Writers Building a Platform Have NO Private Life On-Line

Aside from the NSA checking in, we don’t have “privacy.” Privacy on-line is an illusion. But if we DO want some privacy on FB (like sharing pictures of kids), we don’t need to resort to ticking off our followers by telling them they are a non-entity who are only valuable when they can buy a book.

Create Lists

And if you don’t know how to do this then take one of Lisa Hall-Wilson’s classes over at WANA International. I personally don’t like lists for a number of reasons, but they are an option.

As a quick aside, I don’t like lists because:

Lists Fool Us Then Land Us in Trouble

I feel lists can give us a false sense of security that can create a mess. All it takes is an oops on our part or Facebook’s part for that “private” information to be everywhere. I believe that if everyone can’t see it? Don’t post it. Get on the phone or send an e-mail (and then only the NSA will see it).

Lists Alienate Potential Fans

We never know who is watching. I have writers who segment all their writing posts to people they only believe will care about writing. We have no way of knowing what others find interesting and it is presumptuous to assume this person or that person won’t care.

I have FB friends who aren’t writers. But guess what? When their first cousin is writing a book, guess who they tell dear cousin about? ME.

Maybe someone following you doesn’t read high fantasy (and you write it). But maybe, if you are a cool person, they will read yours. Or, maybe they have a coworker who LOVES high-fantasy. Who will they recommend?

This is that whole “word of mouth” thing, by the way.

Personal Pages Create Relationships Vital to Success

There is a HUGE misconception that the regular profile page is for acting like a human and interacting and then a fan page is for the professional face and self-promotion. WRONG. This is why so many fan pages get dismal traffic and the author (in desperation) resorts to paying to promote (which won’t do anything and is a complete waste of money).

The WANA International fan page regularly has over 80% engagement and we don’t pay to promote. We use WANA methods.

The regular page is essential for connecting with people and creating the emotional bonds that will eventually translate into a vibrant, passionate author platform filled with readers. We connect talking about kids, laundry, missing socks, vacations, hard days at work and griping about the weather. All these everyday events are how we forge friendships.

Who cares if someone only buys one or two books a year if they are YOUR books?

People default to who they know and who they LIKE. The personal page is one of the best ways for others to get to KNOW and LIKE us. Advertising, marketing and promotion without relationships DOESN’T WORK. Marketing doesn’t sell books and I explain why in my new book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

We Never Know WHO We Are Dissecting Out of Our Following

I’m saddened that this author didn’t believe we were friends or colleagues. I believed we were until I was informed otherwise. I go out of my way to help my fellow authors and might have been a good ally to have, especially since this person has a book coming out in the fall.

Also, I talk about zombies and Star Wars and quote Monty Python far more than is socially acceptable :D.

And Grumpy Cat
And Grumpy Cat

Knowledge is Power

So before you start a fan page, I recommend you get educated how to do it. Either invest a whopping nine bucks in my book or take a class at WANA. And I don’t say this to sell, sell, sell (heck, search my archives here or go read Lisa’s blog for free), but mistakes like the one above can seriously damage a brand.

How many people got that message and they not only ignored it, but they were hurt like I was? …only they remained silent. Can guarantee they won’t be buying or recommending this author’s books.

And if you’ve made this mistake, just don’t do it again. I learned how to do social media by doing A LOT of stuff wrong. We learn by mistakes, but I am here to help writers (hopefully) before you make them or maybe at least explain why you might not be getting great results.

Remember, on social media, everyone is our friend. The more “friends” we have, the better and stronger our platform. If we whittle this down to only people we’ve personally met? We are balancing our careers on digital toothpicks.

What are your thoughts? Have you gotten messages like these? Were you hurt or offended? What did you do? What are some other Facebook faux pas that make you see red? What are Facebook questions you might have?

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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You may be surprised to see me guest posting here again after the totally-blown-out-of-proportion kidnapping thing a while ago. *rolls eyes* What good is a friend who isn’t willing to do a social media intervention every so often? You’ll notice Kristen hasn’t been as hostile towards Facebook lately.

Point for me! *pumps fist*

It’s all good. Kristen and I exchanged chocolate and GF cookies…and I used the cat’s laser pointer to distract her. Soooooo, while Kristen is chasing the red dot, let’s talk FACEBOOK.

The one question I get asked about a lot is how to increase engagement on a Facebook page or profile. Engagement is the name of the game. Every click, like, share and comment on the content you post tells Facebook that people find you interesting.

When you become interesting, Facebook assumes more people will want to see your content, and shows your content to more people. Yay – see why it’s important. (This is a simplified answer.)

Yeah – I get that. But how do I increase engagement?

You may have noticed the proliferation of photos on Facebook — 300million+ photos uploaded daily. There’s a reason for that.

Facebook assigns a weight (value) to different kinds of content.

Links have the lowest weight, then status updates, and photos are given the most weight by Facebook, meaning your photos are more likely to be seen than your links or status updates. Similarly Facebook assigns value to the kinds of interaction your content receives with clicks receiving the lowest weight, then likes, with comments and shares given the most weight.

Always vary your content, don’t go all hairy wild on posting photos, but interesting and engaging photos should be part of your strategy.

So by posting a photo, your content is potentially seen by more eyeballs than if you posted a status update or a link. When people engage with that content (likes are good, comments and shares are better), Facebook will make sure that content is seen by even more people.

Romance writers instinctively know how to leverage this because they post pics of men – inspiration photos for their characters, they encourage fans to post photos of their characters, etc. And these photos encourage a flurry of likes and shares. (They post other things too.)

But I’m not a romance author. That won’t work for me.

This works for any kind of author.

Here’s a snapshot of WANA Instructor Marcy Kennedy’s page from yesterday.

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Marcy’s tagline says: “Fantasy novelist and proud geek. I blog about the intersection between fiction and life because fantasy is more real than you think.” She posts all kinds of geeky stuff her fans love. Every Thursday she does a Would You Rather post – a very geeky thing to do, but that’s her brand.

Instead of writing the Would You Rather question as a status update she turns it into a simple graphic. Images receive a lot of real estate in newsfeeds, and the nature of the graphics she uses invites engagement (comments) and builds community and her brand.

Part of the reason this works so well for Marcy is the kind of question she’s asking as well. She asks questions people have an opinion about, but opinions they can share and not offend anyone with. (**Bonus tip: Non-Fiction author and WANA Instructor Leanne Shirtliffe on her Ironic Mom Facebook page does this really well with status updates.)

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Sharing Blog Posts

As I mentioned above, links have the least weight with Facebook – not to say you won’t get engagement with a link but more people will have the opportunity to see your content if you use a photo.

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Don’t do this exclusively, change it up, but try this strategy. Instead of just posting a link and allowing Facebook to pull in the small thumbnail image for the post, upload the main photo from your blog post and include the link to the blog post in the photo description. Or take the extra step and edit the photo so the blog question is part of the photo.

Do you enjoy the photo sharing aspect of Facebook? Have you considered using photos to help build your brand on Facebook?

I’m teaching 2 short and sweet (and cheap) classes on using Facebook to build platform next week.

10 Essentials for Your Writer/Author Facebook Page on Tuesday evening. Everyone who signs up for the course can submit their page for a live critique during the webinar.

Using Your Facebook Profile to Build Platform is on Thursday night. I’m offering this course because so many people tell me they don’t want a page they want to use their profile. Bring your questions :D.

Thanks so much for joining me today! See you in class *waves*.

****

*breathing heavily*

Thanks, Lisa for kidnapping me the guest post, but I don’t think that red dot wants to be caught. Johnny Pocket and I have been working on it for the past hour.

OOH! SHINY! *lamp crashes*

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I gotta admit, you, Lisa, are the only person with the powers to make me actually LIKE Facebook. I took one of your first classes and learned so much. So for my pals out there, TAKE HER CLASS. Facebook has a bazillion members, ergo is a powerful social platform. Lisa will help guide you to use time more wisely so you can get back to writing those books.

IT WRITES THE WORDS OR IT GETS THE HOSE! *pets fluffy white dog*

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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 January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.