For indie authors, Facebook is one of the best ways to reach your audience. As of April 2016, Facebook has 1.65 billion monthly active users and 1.09 billion people logging in daily, according to Zephoria.
With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say that if you’re reading this, you are at least familiar with Facebook.
Types of Facebook Interactions
Facebook has a few different ways you can interact with your audience or fanbase: friends, groups, pages, and events. Authors can use Facebook to promote their books, grow communities, and give sneak peeks of upcoming books, according to Write on Track.
Personally, I keep my profile page private and only friend people who are friends in real life. However, I’ve heard of indie authors who friend all their fans, and use that as a way to keep in touch.
If you’re on the fence about whether to use profile pages or author pages on Facebook, read Jane Friedman’s “The Pros and Cons of Using a Facebook Profile But Not an Official Page.”
You can also share Notes with friends, though this is not displayed as prominently as it used to be.
According to Indie Author Book Marketing, having a group can make it easier to keep in touch with a core group of fans, and you can use them to build loyalty.
Facebook pages are meant for businesses or professional profiles (such as an author page). This is the main way I connect with fans on Facebook, and I actually have two pages: my author page and a page for I Know Dino, the podcast I co-create with my husband.
Facebook explains step-by-step how to create a page, and the main thing to keep in mind is the type of page you want to create. You can also verify your page with Facebook to prove you own the page. And once you set up your page and start getting likes, you can learn details about your audience through Facebook’s Insights. (As a side note, Wolfram allows you to gather a lot of personal analytics on Facebook.) Also make sure to have a catchy Facebook cover image.
You can enhance your page with different apps and widgets. Woobox and Author Marketing App allow you to promote your books in separate tabs on your page. And skBookshop allows you to have a searchable catalog on your page.
As an indie author (or Facebook user in general), you can also invite fans to events, such as a reading or book promotional event.
Engaging on Facebook
No matter how you choose to use Facebook, the most important thing to keep in mind is to engage with your audience. This means treating Facebook as a way to connect directly with readers and fans, and be authentic. Post things that people will find useful and want to share.
Book Business Magazine recommends hosting giveaways (just keep in mind Facebook’s rules), sharing videos, and setting goals to reach. Stu.me lists seven ways to increase engagement, which includes sharing quotes as images and honoring people. You can also take a page from HarperCollins, and release excerpts or whole books once it receives enough likes.
Jane Friedman shares more tips, including using photos in posts, posting links, and not simply automating posts.
When done right, Facebook ads can bring in a lot of revenue for indie authors. One author, Elicia Hyder, shared that she got more than 2,000 subscribers from just one Facebook ad, using one lead ad. Ad Espresso shares examples of Facebook ads that work well.
Joanna Penn shared on her site that Facebook ads are core to her business now, because of Mark Dawson’s advice on using Facebook ads effectively by targeting the right audience and using ads to drive sales and build your audience.
With that in mind, you should create Facebook ads, and not simply boost popular posts, according to The Book Designer. Self Publishing Formula shares a video that takes you step-by-step how to create ads.
Though you don’t want all your posts to be automated, it can be helpful to schedule things out in advance to complement other posts. Tools that can help are Buffer, Hootsuite, Agora Pulse, and Lithium.
You may want to share a mix of public and private things on Facebook. And you should also make sure your profile is secure. With that in mind, follow Social Media Just for Writers’ “6 Ways to Improve Your Security Settings,” which includes deciding who can see what and limiting the apps that can login with your Facebook login information.
Of course, Facebook is not for everyone (some people have stopped using it), and most people will tell you that it’s good to pick one or two social media channels to focus on (Google and Pinterest may be gaining). Also, having an email list is still the most important thing for authors to build up, because as an author you don’t really own your social media channels, and Facebook and others can change rules and algorithms whenever they want, which could affect how well the platform works for you (and how you need to change your strategy because of new filters).
As a tech company, Facebook is always going through interesting changes. Last year Facebook started to natively host publisher content, added buy buttons, which caused a lot of speculation about how Facebook will rival Amazon and become a bookstore, and launched Internet.org (and partnered with companies such as 24symbols, to give “Tigo customers in Colombia […] free access to government services including: Instituto Colombiano para la Evaluación de la Educación, an education assessment service and Agronet, a service that provides information on agriculture and rural development,” according to Facebook.
According to Fast Company, Facebook will be getting into VR, AI, and drones too.
For more tips on how to use social media as an indie author, check out my Indie Author Marketing Guide posts.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published August 2016, as part of the Indie Author Marketing Guide series.