Facebook for authors

June 8th, 2013

Yesterday I messaged someone on Facebook and the message disappeared. Maybe they got it. I’ve no idea. And I’d only ‘friended’ them by accident when I was clicking on something else. So I thought it was time for ten great tips from authors etc who do know how to use Facebook.

1) Facebook works best as a way of communicating with your most loyal fans (rather than the best place to acquire new ones). ‘Have conversations, ask them for advice and give them something back, like a competition or a preview of your new covers’ says Felice Howden of Little Brown.

2) BUT Facebook has strict rules on running competitions and if you fall foul of them, they will shut your page down. You must use an app like Rafflecopter (www.rafflecopter.com) to run the competition within all the various rules and laws. Check that whatever you’re doing is allowed. I have seen several authors run mini-writing competitions on Facebook where there isn’t a ‘prize’ – just a ‘the winner is…’ I have no idea if this is allowed. Google it. And good luck with that.

3) Don’t post every time you open the fridge door. Media analysts SocialBakers say that businesses need to post 5-10 times a week. Less than twice a week, and you won’t ‘engage’. More than 10 posts a week starts to turn people off. One of the world’s biggest companies, technology giant GE, posts ’0-3 times a day.’ These guys spend a lot of money finding out what works. (They post videos, photos and questions, by the way, not updates that they’re just about to catch a train).

4) Have a weekly ‘event’. Author, speaker and writing coach Nicola Morgan ( www.nicolamorgan.com) posts a weekly writing tip. ‘Like all social media, Facebook takes time, commitment and humanity,’ she adds. ‘See what works and what doesn’t, and only do it if you enjoy it. Reluctance will show through.’

5) Photos, videos and links have more ‘weight’ on Facebook than words – in that order. (Don’t ask. Facebook has something called an Edgerank Algorithm. You will not find out more about it from me). But you get the picture. ‘Words only’ entries are the least popular. Black Roses author Jane Thynne (www.janethynne.com) works this beautifully with snippets of historical research linked to her World War II spy novel, accompanied by archive photos and film.

6) Facebook is a great way of interacting with other authors. Award-winning author Rowan Coleman (www.rowancoleman.co.uk) also teaches at the Faber Academy (www.faberacademy.co.uk). She says that her students love hearing advice from other writers, so she posts questions to fellow authors about how they handle, say, characterisation. Which is interesting for all of us.

Next few tips in a few days time. You could always cheer me up by clicking on my Facebook page (see right) and ‘liking’ it. I’d be very grateful.

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