Thursday, March 16, 2017

Facebook for Writers | Social Media & Marketing Part 2


Welcome to Part 2 in my Social Media & Marketing series. If you missed Part 1 you can check it out here.

Today we're going to take a look at Facebook and what it does--and doesn't--do for writers and authors.

Facebook for Writers

I've decided to break this up into pro and con sections here. These aren't 'end all, be all' truths for everyone, but they are things I've observed about Facebook. Below that, you'll see some suggestions I have for interaction and best practices on Facebook.

Pros
  • It does allow writers to connect with other writers and readers (or potential readers, depending on where you are in the publishing process).
  • It does offer you promotional/sponsored options and the ability to 'target' your audience (as Misty talks about in this article).
  • It does let you schedule posts out in advance so you can get ahead of things.
  • It doesn't limit you on words and gives you the option to express yourself in short or longer bits of writing.
  • It does have "groups" which is a great way to engage further with readers.

Cons
  • It does require some careful planning and daily upkeep.
  • It doesn't allow your content to go out to a lot of your followers without paying (most of the time).
  • I does get bogged down with controversial/political topics and can lead conversations in a negative direction. (It can also open up conversation to some great, though controversial topics, which I'd mostly see as a pro.)
  • It is still relevant, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing Facebook's popularity lessen in the coming years (likely because of the previous point). 

How to best use Facebook as a writer

This is a pretty broad thing to say, so I'm not expecting these points to cover "all ways to use Facebook ever". But, I will highlight some of the things that I've seen work well for me in the past.

Know who your audience is (does this sound familiar?) and be relevant to them
I'll be harping on this a lot for any social media site and for marketing in general, but know if your readers are typically engaged on Facebook. Why spend time building a platform there if your readers congregate elsewhere?

Attach pictures to your ideas 
Hugely important on social media in general - photography! I'd say I know a fair amount about photography and the reasons I love it are the same (or at least similar) for the reasons others love it. It's eye-catching, it can give you insight to the post or text causing you to read further, and it gives someone something easy to share. We'll talk more about this later in another post.

Post frequently and consistently to engage daily users 
I'm the worst at this on Facebook - I admit it right now. But, I do know the benefits of regular posting on other social media sites. And I'm not just talking about sharing a quick link to the book you just published. As with any social media site, people are following you for your content. That said, make sure it's well thought out, inline with your branding and market, and engaging (see more below).

Be the right kind of personal
I cannot stress the words "right kind" enough here. Readers love to know the "real" you, but that doesn't (typically) include angry rants, too much information about extremely personal things, or maudlin posts of bemoaning and complaining. "But that's not honest" you say. Well...okay, here's where discernment is crucial.

I'm not against people posting any of these things, but the way in which we post is what matters (like I explain in this post). If you aren't sure about a post, I recommend asking yourself these two questions before posting:

1) Will this encourage those who read it?
2) Am I thinking of my readers or myself in this moment?

I often find that, when I want to go on a rant or complain about something it's often because I want to be cheered up or feel vindicated rather than offering something encouraging to those who follow me. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to limit your honesty, but I do want to stress the spread of encouragement and giving back among my fellow writers and authors.

Post about your books/writing
YES! Readers are following you for these things - they want to know what you're up to and what you're working on. BUT, if this is the only thing they see from you (like "buy my new book" for every post) chances are they will feel cheated. No one likes a hard sell all the time.

Post about things you love
Guess what? People are going to follow you not only for your books/writing but also because of who you are. Included among other content, share about your favorite TV shows, books, actives, food, you name it! Just know that you'll find common fans among your followers which can help your interaction.

Provide chances to see "the real you"
Um, maybe brush your hair first--or not...Hey, you do you!--but let people see you. I realize this is not fun for some who do not wish to share their photos on social media, but that's a whole different post. I just mean that giving your readers a chance to see you offers another level of connection and honesty with them. It's why I do live videos on Instagram (still haven't ventured to Facebook live yet, but I'll be doing that soon). It's why I will include fun/funny photos of myself in my newsletters on on blog posts (*cough* to the left *cough*). And it's why I've started creating Youtube videos. It's a 'more personal' look at who I am and helps to put a face (and voice) to my words.

Offer giveaways
People like getting things. People like getting free things even more. Give people an opportunity to win things, which will attract new followers, and then keep them engaged with your regular posts to keep 'em around!

Use thoughtful, relevant questions to engage your readers 
Give them something to talk about. I know a lot of people post controversial questions and this certainly engages people, so that is definitely an option, but I prefer to be a little less...confrontational? (Totally a personal thing.) I gravitate toward questions about favorite things, recommendations, or life updates.

Writers: How do you use Facebook? Do you have any pros or cons to add? 

Readers: Do you like engaging with writers on Facebook? What are some of your favorite posts?