Facebook can be a time suck. A few minutes scrolling through the posts of your friends and family can easily turn into an hour. It’s tempting to cut out your Facebook use altogether when you’re trying to become a more productive author, but it’s still one of the best places to find new readers for your books.
Facebook has changed dramatically over the years. While it was once free to reach all of your followers with a single post, the social media site has become a pay-to-play platform. You must optimize your posts and the ways you connect with fans to ensure the most effective use of your hard-earned money.
Here are seven ways you can make Facebook worth your time and generate genuine connections with fans who’ll love your work:
1. Optimize Your Profile Picture and Cover Image
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Many potential fans may see you for the first time as the small image on the side of a post or comment. This is why your optimizing your profile picture is so important. It will serve as your branding on the newsfeed of your followers, on the comments and posts you make, on the posts on your page’s timeline, and over your cover photo.
It’s best to either use a close-up picture of your face or a three-dimensional image of your book. Crop your picture as a square. Keep in mind that while your profile picture is uploaded at 180 X 180 pixels, it will be displayed at 160 X 160 pixels. Check your profile picture on your timeline and next to comments to ensure it’s displaying properly.
When potential fans click through to your page, they’ll see your cover image prominently displayed at the top. This is your opportunity to tell fans who you are and what you do. If your cover image is off-center or it fails to tell your story, then readers will click away from your page without giving you a second thought.
Use a tool like Canva to create an 851 X 315 pixel image. Use copyright-free images or your own book covers to ensure you don’t infringe on anyone else’s copyright. Facebook has a rule for images you plan to use for advertisements regarding the amount of text you include. Whether or not you plan to promote your Facebook page through advertising, it’s a good idea to fill less than 20 percent of your cover image with text.
2. Ask Fans to Join
Spending time on your Facebook platform will only feel worthwhile if you have active participation on your page. The best way to encourage fans to join in on conversations is to ask them to visit. You can funnel fans to your page by using calls to action on your website and through your email list.
Embed the Facebook fan page Like box on the sidebar of your blog and at the bottom of your posts. This ensures that every fan who visits your site has the opportunity to Like and follow your page. It’s also possible to embed your fan page feed on your sidebar. Readers can use the feed to see when new posts are made to your page.
If you’re building up an email list, there are a few different ways to optimize Facebook Likes for your fan page. Invite your readers directly to the page using a link and a description of the page. You can also include a link to your fan page in every email you send through the use of a signature. Both of these methods will be more successful if you give readers a compelling reason to join your page, such as an event or a giveaway.
You can also invite readers directly from your personal page or place calls to action in the front and back of your books.
3. Target Real Readers
You may be tempted to take shortcuts to build up your Facebook following. It seems like more companies are cropping up every day that suggest the only path to Facebook success is through buying Likes from a third-party. This is actually a surefire way to decrease fan engagement and reduce the number of people who see your posts.
In many cases, the Likes you buy will either be random people paid by a company or completely fake accounts. It’s very rare that any of the people you recruit will actually be interested in your books. That’s why it’s better to take the slow and steady approach to grow your page.
Running targeted events and giveaways can cost you just as much money as buying likes with much better results.
4. Run an Event
Facebook gives readers an opportunity to connect with their favorite authors and like-minded readers. One way to tap into this desire for connection is with the use of multi-author Facebook events.
It can be difficult to build up more fans when you have so few to begin with, but if you ask multiple authors with larger fan bases to join an event, then you’ll have the opportunity to bring those fans over to your page as well.
Start by setting up an event directly through your fan page. Ask fellow authors in your genre to connect for a sale or a multi-author box set. Give them a specific date and certain times of the day for the authors to stop by to chat with readers and offer prizes. Ask the authors to invite their fans to the event through their email lists and fan pages.
By hosting the event through your Facebook fan page, all of the attendees will see a link to your page at the top of event page. By moderating and frequently posting during the event, interested readers will click through and like your page to keep up with what you have going on in the future.
Make sure your event has something special to offer, like bonus content or a massive giveaway for those who drop by at specific times.
5. Hold a Giveaway
Publishers Clearing House wouldn’t still be around if people weren’t interested in winning a grand prize. While you may not have the sway of PCH or your state lottery, you can still harness the power of the giveaway during your Facebook event.
Many authors set up giveaways during their events that encourage comments. They’ll make a post that promises to give one lucky commenter a prize, perhaps asking an open-ended question to encourage responses. While this is an effective way to generate excitement, it’s better to create giveaways that encourage Facebook Likes and email signups.
Rafflecopter is a free giveaway tool (with a premium edition) that you can embed in a blog post or attach directly to your Facebook page. Use the latter option to encourage more likes. KingSumo Giveaways is a premium giveaway tool that plugs into WordPress. Both tools encourage social sharing and allow readers to get extra entries if they like your Facebook fan page.
6. Think Like a Blogger
You need to remain active on Facebook to build up an engaged following. It can be easy to get bogged down with daily posts, even if you use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to manage them. To get over this feeling of overwhelm, it’s best to change your mindset about social media posting entirely.
Blogger and speaker Jane Friedman refers to posting on social media platforms as “microblogging,” a process by which you provide a tiny piece of value every day. If a blog is a website in which you keep an ongoing record of your current endeavors, then a microblog is a challenge to show something related to your progress in a smaller space. You can post a small part of your book, a line of poetry, a character sketch, or something of your own creation daily to get readers excited about following.
Beyond reader excitement, you also want to get yourself invested in posting to your own page. You won’t get readers interested if they can tell that you aren’t into it yourself.
7. Promote Less, Connect More
Readers who join your Facebook page aren’t interested in seeing countless ads about your book. In most cases, they’ve already bought your book and your promotion posts are more likely to shoo them away.
It’s best to promote your book in fewer than 20 percent of your posts, and much fewer than that if you’re posting every day. Instead of self-promotion, make an effort to forge a deeper connection with your followers. Ask them questions, give them prizes, and make sure they feel their voices are heard.
Put yourself in their shoes and treat them exactly as you’d want to be treated.
Facebook Is What You Make Of It
There’s so much talk out there about how Facebook’s changes make it a bad platform for authors. It’s not a way for you to sell a lot more books, but it can still have a major impact on your readership. Spend your time wisely and give your followers multiple ways to keep up with you and your latest social posts.
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