I’m very excited to get started on this new series for Soaring. We’re taking a look at social media and what it can do for your writing career. Since it’s 2017, most people are online in one capacity or another. This series is great for those of you who are still holding out on joining the party or for those who are online, but need some help using social media as a way to promote your writing and your brand. In this post we’ll look at Facebook and go over some essentials for getting started and marketing ourselves as writers.
This series will lead up to the launch of our new Spalding MFA Alumni website. While we’ll go over the new website in more depth, for right now, I’ll tell you that the site will be a great resource and community for alums.
What you can look forward to in this series:
- Intro to Social Networking for Writers
- Facebook Page Essentials
- Twitter Essentials
- Instagram Essentials
- YouTube Essentials
- Pinterest Essentials
- Blogging Essentials
- Our New Alumni Website
Why Writers Need a Facebook Page
Many people think that writers or authors don’t need a Facebook page. They couldn’t be more wrong. If we look at our writing like a business, it would be silly to think that our business can thrive without getting the word out that the business exists. No one will visit your store, buy your product, or even care that you exist if they’ve never heard of you. It’s easy for people to think that books, once on the shelf, will sell. But think of how many other books are on the shelves competing for a reader’s attention. A writer needs a leg up and social media is one way to do that.
Publishing houses are spending less and less money marketing their books and authors so we must do that ourselves. The earlier we start
this marketing the better because, while we’d like to think we can get published solely based on our writing talent, the publishing industry is a business, and as a business it comes down to sales and money. The more likely a writer is to make a company money, the more likely the company is to take a chance on them. Having a large community or fan-base in place when you pitch(ing to) a publishing company will only help you. It would seem there’s no reason NOT to have a social media presence.
- 75% of Male and 83% of Female internet users are on Facebook
- 22% of the world’s total population uses Facebook
- Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, with 79% of American internet users.
- Based on total population (not just internet users) 68% of U.S. adults are on Facebook.
- Over 50 million business use Facebook Business Pages
- 2 million businesses use Facebook for advertising
- The average user is 41 years old.
Creating a Page
A Page is for a business, a Profile is for a person. You should create a page for yourself as a writer to better promote yourself and market your books. You need a separate Page, instead of just using your Profile for a few reasons:
- It looks more professional. You can set up your page how you like it, with special features, and it will show that you take your business seriously, instead of just as a hobby.
- You’ll have more privacy. You can keep your page and profile separate, giving you needed privacy and separation between your two “selves.”
- People are more likely to “Like” a page than to friend request someone they have found online. While Facebook is meant for connecting, “friending” has become personal and invasive. People usually won’t friend people they don’t know, and as your community grows, it’s a good idea to not accept friend requests from people you don’t know, but that’s a whole other internet policy discussion.
You’ll most likely want to use this Facebook page for your writer profile. The upcoming steps will be specific toward creating that type of profile, but if you choose to make a page for something else: your blog, a community you’ve created, or a business, you’ll have to chose slightly different options. However, as I’ve said before, it’s a good idea to have at least one author Page so followers and readers can better find you.
Step by Step:
- Go to Facebook.com/pages
- Click on “Create Page” at bottom
- Choose the page type for your page. If it’s for your writer profile, you’ll most likely choose Artist, Band or Public Figure.
- Choose what category best fits you. In this case, we’ll choose “Writer.”
- Enter the Page Name- usually your name or a Pen Name you choose to write under.
- Click “Get Started”
- On our new homepage, click “See all Page Tips” in the center column.
- Follow the page tips starting with setting a username. Choose something as close to your name as possible, or possibly your blog name. Something consistent with the rest of your social media profiles is helpful.
- Add a link to your websites
- Add a button. This is if you want visitors to your page to do something specific like send you a message, go to your blog, or visit a page to buy your book.
- Invite friends. Now is the time to invite people you know to like your page.
- Add a cover photo. This can be a collage of your book covers, a nice photo of you, or anything eye catching.
- Post a short video. This isn’t mandatory, but if you want to show new visitors to your page who you are very quickly and easily, now is when to do it.
- Add page roles. If you have others who need access to the background of your page, add them now. You probably won’t, as this is your profile, but if you’re lucky enough to have a social media manager or have a community page, this will be beneficial.
- Add a profile picture. This should be similar to all of your other profile photos on social media to keep consistent.
- Fill in the “About” Section. Add as much or as little information as you want. You should at least tell people about yourself and your writing, as well as point people toward your other sites and profiles.
- Double check the page. Look over your page to see what has been left out. Hopefully everything has been filled in and it looks like a completed page.
Posting on Your Page
Posting is quite simple on your page and is not much different than on a Facebook profile.
- Go to your page
- In the center column, either start writing, or choose from one of the options.
- Create your post.
- Press Publish.
Simple, right? This is how you post, but I’m going to go over what you should post as well.
Best Practices for posting
While I can’t tell you exactly what to post because then all social media accounts would be exactly the same, I can tell you some best practices for crafting your posts and when to post.
- Keep it Short– Most people on facebook are quickly scrolling by and will overlook a huge mass of words. Keep your post short to capture your reader’s attention. According to one study, facebook posts under 40 characters receive 86% higher engagement than other posts.
- Post photos- Photos, obviously, will capture a reader’s attention more than just a block of words. But it can’t just be any photo. The photo will need to be eye catching and alluring to get noticed out of the many posts coming across people’s screens.
- Ask Simple Questions- Asking questions is one of the easiest ways to engage readers but you need to make sure it’s short and sweet. You also need to make sure that the question leads your reader to a fast answer. If they have to think about it for too long, or it takes them too long to answer, they’re less likely to reply. Questions like, “What is your favorite pizza topping?” are better than ones like “What do you like about pizza?” People don’t need to engage with you so make it easy for them to do so.
- Share Content other than your own- Sharing content from other Facebook pages is a great way to connect with other businesses. Only posting your own content is not social, it’s selfish. Post links (with photos) to articles by other businesses or creators. Make sure to tag their Facebook page to let them know you’re interested in and sharing their content.
- Stay relevant- People follow you because they like what they see. They want to see more of that. Stay on a similar topic when posting in the future. It’s fine to once in a while post “out there” posts, because you’re a person, and people have different interests and, hopefully, your audience follows you because you have similar interests. However, you need to be careful. If you spend months posting about writing, work, books, and productivity, it won’t be great to suddenly post photos of your kids doing cute things. Like anything though, you need to gauge your audience. Post something new and if engagement is incredibly down, it did not work. If engagement is up, continue to post that.
- Vary your post types- Going off of the last topic, you can’t just post articles about one topic constantly. And more than that, you can’t just post one TYPE of post. If you only post links, that can get boring. If you only post a photo with a small caption, that can get boring. Switch up what you post and how you post to keep readers interested and entertained.
- Be aware of controversial topics- This completely depends on your author platform and the type of writing you do. Either way you need to at least be aware of topics or posts that might rub people the wrong way. On the one hand, controversy has made plenty of people internet famous and therefore, more popular in their other pursuits. You just need to be aware of who you are as a writer, and what your audience expects of you.
- Don’t post too often- While platforms like twitter are made to post many times a day, Facebook is not one of those. Most people suggest to post on your page between three and 10 times per week. Aim for quality over quantity when posting. Try to make every post interesting and grabbing to the readers.
- Post at effective times. You can post the greatest post ever but if no one is online to see it the post will never do well. Pay attention to when your fans are most active. You can see where the majority of your fans are from to determine what time zone is most effective. After this, you can choose a time. Many Facebook users check the site on their lunch breaks or after dinner. There’s no perfect time to post so you need to test this for your own page, but being aware of when you post is just as important as what.
While you can use Hootsuite or Buffer to automate your posts on many social media platforms. There is also a built-in way to schedule posts for the future. When on your page, write up a post your want to publish. Instead of clicking “Publish” simply click “Schedule.” You can choose a date and time for the future when you want your post to go live. Scheduling a series of posts is a great way to save time and to avoid having your life taken over by social media. Simply take an hour to schedule the posts and you are free to live your life without worry of being inactive too long. However, like I mentioned in the Intro to Social Media, don’t forget to reply to followers who interact with you. You don’t want your page to feel like a one-way street.
Monitoring Your Page with Insights:
At the top of your page is a menu showing Page, Messages, Notifications, Insights, and Publishing Tools. Insights shows you data collected about your page, posts, and followers.
The first section shows your Page Summary. You can choose the time frame for this, being Today, Yesterday, Last 7 days, and Last 28 days. This is, obviously, a summary of your page, showing you actions, page views, page likes, reach, post engagement and videos. You can monitor how your page is doing and see if what you’re doing is working or if you need to reevaluate your approach.
Below this box is your 5 most recent posts, with the ability to see more. This will break down your posts to show you the reach and engagement of each post and will give you the option to boost- or promote- your post.
The last box in this Overview section is Pages to Watch. This is where you can compare the performance of your page and posts with similar pages on Facebook. This helps you see how you’re doing compared to other pages like yours. You can even add pages that you are interested in to keep track of your “competition.”
Along the right side is a bar that will lead you to see more specific insights like your promotions, likes, reach, page views, actions on the page, and more. This is where you can play around and keep track of how your page is doing. This is a great way to keep track of your stats and see if what you’re doing is working with your audience or if you need to try other methods of posting or gaining followers.
For more help, here are definitions for terms that might be new to you.
- Reach- Reach is the number of people who saw your post or page
- Engagement- The number of clicks, reactions, likes, comments or shares your post or page gets.
Ads and Promotion
Facebook offers adds and promotions for your page and posts published there. This is a paid feature and definitely not mandatory, but it does make reaching potential followers much easier. Because of Facebook’s algorithm, it’s extremely difficult for your posts to be seen by your current followers and basically impossible for new followers to stumble upon your page.
Ads on Facebook
Boosting a post- You have the option to “Boost” posts on Facebook. This is a great way to get more people to see your post. When you click to boost a post, you’re given the option to choose your audience. You can either choose your audience by location, gender, age, or interest. You can also choose to target people who like your page, or those who like your page as well as their friends. Because Facebook owns Instagram now, you can choose to run a promotion there as well.
Now you need to choose your budget and duration. Facebook will give you an approximate number of people you will reach based on your budget. Once you’ve set up your payment method, you’re ready to go. Your ad will run and hopefully gain you more engagement. These posts will show up in people’s timelines just as any other post from those they follow. The only difference is “Sponsored” will be displayed under your Page name.
You can also promote your page as a whole instead of a single post, though, most people find boosting a post gets more end engagement, because Facebook users get a glimpse of what your page is about instead of just being told to like a certain page. This can be done in a similar way, just click Promotions in the left hand menu, create new promotion, and Promote Your Page.
To keep track of your ads or boosted posts, you can click “Go to Ads Manager” in the Promotions section. This will show all of your boosted posts or ads, show how much you’ve spent, and how your ads have done with insights like clicks, likes, reach.
Promotion on other sites/social media
It’s important to cross promote your Facebook page. There are plenty of plugins available to integrate a Facebook “like” button on your website so people can quickly like your page from your blog or website. I’ll get into plugins more in the blogging section, but keep in mind that cross promotion is essential to gaining followers on social media.
Once in a while you can also “shout out” your Facebook page on other social media platforms like Twitter or Instagram.
Popular Writer Facebook pages
I’m looking for contributors for the following posts:
DEAR SOARING!: Send me your questions to be featured on the blog. Other alumni will help in answering your questions.
Where in the World: Where have you gone recently? Send me a picture with information on your trip and any writing you may have done about the trip.
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Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured.
Mackenzie Jervis is a Summer 2016 Graduate. She lives in Texas with her husband, two cats, and puppy. She has way too many books, more cameras than she knows how to properly use, and a never ending need to keep moving. She write about her life and adventures at home and around the world at A Wandering Scribbler.