Writers and Facebook. Do you need it? If you’re not active there at all, is a Page necessary? If you’re active there frequently, what’s the difference between a Personal account and an author (or blogger) Page?
So many questions.
More than 1.4 billion people use Facebook every single day, and many multiple times a day. It’s almost certain that your potential customers are on Facebook and using it actively to connect with their family, their friends, and their favorite brands. (Source: Buffer)
Regardless of your personal feelings about Facebook (I’ve stated previously that it’s not my favorite social platform), it’s probably a good idea to be there, based on the info above. Twitter is my personal favorite — you can read why here:
How Twitter Helps You Connect With Readers In a Meaningful Way
Not convinced Twitter is right for you? Let’s discuss!
*Please note: this article is not a debate about Facebook’s political or business practices; it’s strictly a ‘how-to.’ Each individual must decide for themselves if and how to utilize Facebook in their own marketing.
Facebook Personal Account vs. Facebook Author Page
Facebook is a two-fold way to build relationships: via your Personal ‘friends’ account and via an author Page, where people Like stuff — no ‘friending’ required. I’m constantly surprised at the number of writers who
- don’t have an author/writer/blogger Page at all
- don’t even know they need to have one to sell their books
- don’t know there’s a difference between a Personal account and a Page.
Well, not that surprised. I didn’t know at first, either! According to Facebook’s legal terms (which we all agreed to when we opened our Personal account), Section 4, Point 4:
You will not use your Personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
You can do so much more with a Facebook Page than with your Personal friends account anyway. Besides, who wants to be constantly ‘selling’ to friends and family?
Meh. Don’t be that person.
Also, for SEO purposes on Google, your Page will show up, not your Personal ‘friends’ account (and definitely not anything you post — probably a blessing for most people), so it’s important you put on your Page that you are an author (or blogger), not a book, not a public figure, or a community Page (unless you are marketing a community or support group).
We are marketing you as an author. (If you are a blogger or business person, choose that option.)
If you don’t already have a Facebook Page, go create one now. The only requirement? You must have a Facebook Personal account. You want an author Page, not a Book Page. Again, we brand the author, not (only) the book. You’ll write more books, so why create more work for yourself when your next book comes out?
I’ll give you more tips as we go along. For now, just go create the thing.
Already have a Page? Here’s how to choose or change your category: go to the About Section of your already existing Page, and click on Category. Click on the Edit button and pick which category you desire.
Here’s another insider tip for you savvy Facebook Page people:
Click on your header (the graphic at the top of the page.) Have you added any information there, e.g., how people can find you? Probably not. Click the edit button, and add in all your formatted links, e.g., Twitter should read http://twitter.com/RachelintheOC so it hyperlinks.
This also increases your internal SEO (aka, inside Facebook), a hugely important advantage.
Here’s a screenshot of my Rachel Thompson, Author Facebook Page header with formatted links:
I typically add in all my social media channels, website, and Amazon (or other online book retailers), link to my author newsletter, basically anywhere people can find me. Be sure to click ‘Done Editing’ when done.
Tip: When you change your header (and you will), have a copy of all these links saved in a Word or Google doc. Or just copy, replace the header, and paste.
If you don’t have professional graphics for your header, that’s okay. Go to Unsplash or Pixabay or another royalty-free site and use one of their hi-res photos as your header. For your author avatar, use a photo of you as opposed to your book. People like to see eyes and people.
Learn more about that here in my branding post:
Why Branding Confuses You and How To Fix That Right Now
What author branding is and what it’s not isn’t clear to most writers. It’s not that complicated! Here I break it all…
Facebook Page Messaging
We used to have the option of not receiving Page messages. Facebook removed that option, so every Page now receives messages in our inbox. The option you still have is to turn on automated, personalized welcome messages if you so choose. It’s already pre-set for you, so all you have to do is toggle it to ON.
I’ll be honest — this used to bother me. Why would I want to receive messages from random people I don’t know? Creepy, right? Though, in actuality, with automated messaging, you can filter out the creeps and then block them. Kind of like a pre-screening, if you will.
Set-up is super easy, too. Click on Settings on the top. Click on Messaging on the left toolbar. Scroll down to ‘Start A Messenger Conversation’ and toggle to On. The message is already pre-set.
If you prefer to change the language from the pre-set, click on the Change button, and create your own welcome message.
(Note: where it says, ‘Hi Rachel Thompson!’ will be replaced with the name of the person who is contacting you.)
Scroll down to add additional messaging options if you’d like.
When to Post
Ask any author when the best time is to post to Facebook and they’ll look at you like you have two heads. They have NO idea. All the time? When I have time? When Mercury is in retrograde?
I had no idea, either. To be honest, I’m still not sure. According to research:
The best time to post to Facebook is between 1 pm — 3 pm EST during the week and on Saturdays. We also found that engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays. (Source: Buffer)
However, other studies uncovered that the best time to post to Facebook is (all in EST):
- Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. are the best times to post on Facebook [Hubspot]
- Thursday at 8 p.m. [TrackMaven]
- 1–4 p.m. late into the week and on weekends [CoSchedule]
- Off-peak [BuzzSumo]
Blink. Right? So…what does this mean for us as authors? Using handy social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer (or whatever you like) to schedule in content that fits with these times, combined with your own analytics data is the best plan.
Just one more reason I recommend using a social media management tool: analytics. Which posts get the most reach, engagement, comments, etc.? These tools tell you all of that. It only takes a few clicks to see what’s working and what’s not.
Your Facebook Page Name
You want to personalize your Facebook Page URL. When you first opened your account, you probably didn’t notice but the URL (in the bar at the top) has your Username followed by a bunch of numbers. When people ask for your Page URL, you don’t want it to show those numbers, you want it to show only your Page name. Much more professional.
Go into the About tab (not Settings), and you’ll see where it says Name and UserName. UserName is what will appear in your URL. Hover to the right where it says Edit, and enter the name of the Page you want in UserName. I recommend your name and Author (or Blogger, or Writer), e.g., mine is Rachel Thompson author (no spaces or punctuation). See below:
Now you can see that the Page URL is my Username:
You’re only allowed one Name change, so don’t make the change until you are sure and ready. (Note: You can always start a new Page, and merge the old into the new — remember, nothing is ever set in stone with social media.)
*A note on merging Pages: If you choose to merge two Pages, FB will automatically merge whichever Page has the least likes into the Page with the most likes, so be 100% sure that you choose correctly. There is no do-over.
If you’re still confused, visit the Username Help page on Facebook for more info. Keep in mind that you must be an Admin on your Page to make any changes. Once you’ve saved those changes, your URL should no longer have numbers, only your assigned username.
Tips: Sometimes this Username process gets glitchy when a Page is brand new and you have no Likes. Sometimes it doesn’t work from desktop, so try mobile. Sometimes it allows capital letters in some places and not others (as you can see in my Username above, and that lowercase “a” on author in my Username drives me insane).
Why are the Facebook gods so fussy? No idea.
Verifying a Page
Many people ask how Facebook gave me that blue verification mark on my Author Page. Simple, I asked (well, I filled out a form). You can, too, though I’ll warn you, just because you ask doesn’t mean you’ll receive in this case.
They look at a number of factors: your entire social media platform (including other than Facebook), how many books (or articles or blog posts or podcasts) you’ve published, your Google ranking (see, this SEO stuff does matter!), places you’ve published online, etc. You must be “authentic (so no pen names allowed), unique, notable, and your Page must be fully complete.”
You also must provide a .jpg of either your birth certificate or your current driver’s license. If you’re uncomfortable doing either, forget it. Those are your only options. Here’s the link to the verification form.
Note: If you prefer to verify your Personal account instead, you have that option, however, you cannot do both. Again, the same parameters apply.
Pinning a Post
Just like with Twitter (and LinkedIn), you have the option to pin a post to the top of your Page (you cannot do this on your Personal account). I typically will pin a book promotion, an event, or my latest blog or guest post. This is such an overlooked marketing tactic!
How To Pin a Post.
Go to your Page. Choose whatever post you feel is most important for people to see right away. To pin (or unpin), simply hover over the gray arrow on the top right of that post and click ‘pin post.’ It’s that easy.
If you want to ‘boost’ that pinned post, just click on the blue ‘boost’ button on the bottom right of the post, and that allows you to run an ad (even $5 or $10 works — no need to go bankrupt on ads.)
Tip: If you’ve transitioned your Instagram to a Business account (free to do), you can connect your Page to the IG Biz Account and the ads will automatically run there as well. Win/win.
Example: Here’s an ad I ran for one of my memoirs. You can see all the different places the ad ran solely because I have a Facebook Page as well an Instagram Business account.
I often run similar ads for my clients, but not until we’ve set up both their Pages and IG Business accounts.
Important Note: While you can still edit a pinned post, you cannot edit a boosted post. So double and triple check it before you boost it.
Facebook Pages do take a while to set up and are a constant work in progress. I recommend clicking around on all the various buttons and tabs to familiarize yourself with what’s what.
I didn’t cover everything here, only a few key tactics. If I did try to cover them all, we’d be here for a week.
The majority of the public IS on Facebook. Many, many readers are there, too. Only you can decide if you want to build reader relationships there. My experience: some people only use Facebook and nothing else. If you’re not there, you won’t reach them. Ever.
Good luck and as always, reach out with questions!