April 20, 2014 by Nathaniel Tower
I’ve heard many authors ask if they really need to create a Facebook author page. As with most things, the value of having one depends on what you are willing to put into it, but that type of answer isn’t typically met with much satisfaction. Let’s cut to the chase. Is it really worth your time to set up an author page?
I’ll put it simply: Yes.
1. It’s Easy To Do
Setting up your page takes only a few minutes. Seriously, if you managed to find and read this post, then you can set up a Facebook author page in less than five minutes. All you need is a bio, an image, and your name (add author at the end to distinguish between your profile and your page).
2. It Makes You Less Annoying
An author page offers a separate outlet for people to follow your work. Believe it or not, many of your Facebook friends don’t want to hear about your writing three or four times a week. In fact, some of them never want to hear about your writing. That doesn’t mean you can’t continue to post your writing accomplishments on your profile, but having an author page allows you to spread it out (or to promote twice as much without annoying your friends further).
If you post about your new story every day on your profile, then people think you don’t have anything worthwhile to say and they start to ignore you. If you post about your new story every day on your page, that’s expected because that’s why the page exists, to promote yourself as an author. Of course, you don’t have to post about the story every day because you can pin that post, which is another powerful thing about a Facebook page.
3. It’s a Professional Way to Brand Yourself as an Author
When was the last time you encountered a store, brand, or musician that didn’t have a Facebook page? Almost anywhere you go, you’ll see the little “find us on Facebook” logo (they even have them at gas stations—who the heck is visiting a gas station’s Facebook page?). In today’s world, having your own Facebook page seems as important as having a website.
Think of your author page as branding. You are establishing yourself as a real author. If someone reads one of your stories and wants to check out more of your work, then having a Facebook author page provides an outlet for your new fan. Your fans aren’t likely to request your friendship, but they may search for you and decide to follow your author page. If they like your writing enough, they may actually pay attention to what you post. (Similarly, many of your friends aren’t likely to follow your author page, which is actually another reason why you should have one).
4. It Gives You Insight Into Your Fans
Your Facebook Author Page comes packed full of powerful data. You can see when your fans are online, when they are most active, when they are most likely to engage with your posts. You can evaluate each post you make by looking at the data (engagement, reach, etc.). There’s so much you can do with the Insights portion of your page that it really deserves its own post.
5. It Increases Your Reach (as long as you do it the right way)
Even though Facebook is pushing away from the essentially free “promotion” that used to make author/artist/small business pages so great, there is still plenty of value in having a page that’s separate from your profile. Your posts will typically show up in the feeds of about 8-10% of your fans. While this doesn’t sound like much, it allows you to reach more people than you would otherwise. Of course, just how much you will increase your reach depends on how you use your page. In other words, you need to figure out the right things to post.
While many people complain about the loss of organic reach (why don’t my posts show up in everyone’s feed?), the value of a Facebook page is more than organic reach. If people really enjoy your writing and are fans of your work, they’ll visit your page on a regular basis to check up on your latest news. People are on Facebook all the time (over 20% of all mobile usage is now Facebook related). What better way to reach people than to use the same platform they are using.
The Right Way to Use Your Facebook Author Page
After setting up your page, your first instinct is to go out and get as many likes as possible. Hold off on this. While you do want to have some likes, there are some dangers in getting too many likes right out of the gate. Sending requests to people can be annoying, so only send these requests to people you think would really like your page (think of your friends who have actually commented on your writing in the past). Additionally, creating a post or status update that asks for likes isn’t going to have much impact anymore. Earlier this year, Facebook really put limitations on the reach of this type of “like-baiting.”
Asking for likes is not only annoying (and becoming increasingly less feasible), it’s also counterproductive. The latest research suggests the organic reach of any post on a Facebook page is now less than 10% (and this number seems to slip further every day). The more “false” likes you get (and many of your friends will count as “false” likes because they really have no interest in your author page), then the less likely it becomes that you will actually reach your fans.
So what should you do with your author page? If you are only reaching a handful of people, isn’t it really a waste of time?
Not at all. I’ll cite a specific statistic from the Bartleby Snopes Lit Mag Facebook page. One of our recent posts reached over 1100 people even though we only have about 600 likes. Why did it reach so many people? Because it was engaging, informative, and worth being shared (or at least some people thought so).
One example never proves anything, so I’ll go further. My Facebook author page has a paltry 136 likes at the moment. One of my recent posts reached over 200 people. I post about every other day, and these posts routinely will be seen by 50 or more people. Although it may not sound like much, that is a decent amount of exposure that you can get from not very much time (it only takes a minute to post something).
To get more views, you need to be engaging and interesting on your author page. When you provide content that people want to share, you will reach a lot more than 10% of your fans. Here’s a breakdown of some best practices for your Facebook author page:
- Post frequently, but don’t be repetitive
- Don’t post things that are already being frequently shared (this is white noise, and Facebook is starting to limit frequently shared items from showing up even more)
- Make your posts engaging by creating content people will want to share or interact with
- Don’t confine yourself to being a self-promotion machine; branch out and post other relevant links and thoughts
- Don’t post requests for likes or other things that seem like spam (Facebook isn’t in the business of giving you everything for free)
- Grow your likes naturally rather than begging for new ones; if you post engaging content, people will find and like your page
- Use the post pinning feature when you have something you really want people to see (great for when you have a new publication or other big news)
Every time the term Facebook comes up, you inevitably will hear people grumbling about how it’s a terrible waste of time, about how it unethically steals your privacy, about how it is dying out. Whether or not the first two claims are true, the third one couldn’t be further out of touch. Facebook continues to grow, and having an Author Page can help you to grow as an author. Just how quickly that growth occurs will depend on how you use it.