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Creating a Facebook Fan Page for Marketing — One Author’s Experience

| Posted in Social Media |

8

Back in August, I finally put up an author fan page on Facebook. I say finally because it was on my to-do list for months before I actually did it. I’d never been a big fan of Facebook when it came to having a personal account, just because I never seemed to be able to find anything, and if I did find whatever elusive thing I was looking for, Facebook would have an update and hide it from me again.

But 600-odd million people are on Facebook, so it seemed like an up-and-coming author should be there, too, right?

Despite my waffling, I’ve found it to be a good experience, yes.

Has my Facebook fan page led to more book sales?

It’s hard to pinpoint where sales come from. As an independent author, you can see real-time sales numbers at Amazon and Barnes & Noble — something that can be helpful with linking promotional campaigns to results… or a lack of results — but they don’t tell you where those sales came from. Did a visitor originally click through from Facebook or Twitter, or did the visitor simply find your book by surfing through the bookstore? It’s impossible to know.

Sometimes readers will tell me how they first found my books (i.e. I tried your sample after seeing a post on Twitter or I found your free ebook at Amazon and got into the series that way), but I don’t think anyone has mentioned Facebook to me yet.

I imagine there are at least some folks who have tried the freebies I have listed there, but for now I’m thinking of the site as more of a place to keep in touch with folks who have already read the books and who enjoy interacting on Facebook. If you read last week’s post on author branding, you know I try to be out there everywhere I can.

Maybe I’ll figure out how to be more effective on it in the future (I’m not one to go running around, liking a bazillion things or participating in oodles of discussions in the hopes that some bored person will find a way back to my page), but for now I can say that the page seems like it’s worth keeping and that it plays a small role in my book-promotion efforts.

How do I get fans for my Facebook page?

I have 300-some fans (this is just when someone “likes” your page), which isn’t all that many, but I don’t believe in asking random people for likes. Not because of any moral issues with the notion, but because, from what I’ve read, your page will do better with fewer fans, fans who actually interact with it, than a lot of drive-by like-clickers who never return again.

The fans I do have on there came from…

  • a few initial posts on Twitter where I let my followers know that I’d set up shop on Facebook
  • a brief advertising campaign I tried for sharing my free ebooks (I wasn’t looking for likes when I did that, but if you’re advertising a FB page, Facebook will put the like option right on the ad.)
  • adding my Facebook page to the afterword in my recent ebook releases
  • people gradually finding my page through other means (in particular, I posted a picture of a sand-sculpture dragon that went viral and had something like 160 shares and 400 likes, and I remember I had a bunch of fan page likes during that unusual week)

What do I post on my Facebook fan page?

Despite my past difficulties with Facebook, I’ve found it to be easy to keep my author page updated. It’s the work of a couple of minutes a week. I post book updates, of course, and links to blog posts I think fantasy fans might find interesting.

I’ve also posted pictures of cool things (like that dragon I mentioned). Pictures seem to do very well on Facebook, meaning people like, comment, and share them readily (when your updates have a lot of interactions, they’ll appear on other people’s walls, so it’s a bit of viral marketing).

Some people do more and get very involved in the community, but I ultimately prefer to focus on other things (like writing the next book!).

What’s the point? What can a Facebook fan page do for you?

You might be thinking that it’s not worth the effort, especially since I couldn’t say, “Oh, I’ve sold XXX number of books solely because of my Facebook page.”

I believe there are some pluses to having a presence there even if it’s not immediately apparent that it can help you sell books (of course, just because Facebook hasn’t sold a lot of books for me doesn’t mean there aren’t authors out there who have had different experiences):

  • Some of your fans are there, waiting for you — With so many folks on Facebook, it’s inevitable that some of your readers (and future readers!) will hang out there. People who enjoy Facebook like to interact on there every day, not just with friends and families but with businesses and, yes, authors too. The first week I made my page, a nice reader popped in and said, “Oh good, I was waiting for you to get on Facebook!”
  • Advertising on Facebook becomes more affordable and practical once you have a fan page — I’ve only tinkered with this a little bit, and Facebook advertising should probably have its own post, but the short and sweet of it is that it’s cheaper to send people to a fan page than it is to send them off-site (i.e. to your Amazon book page or your blog). There are ways to put sample chapters and links to free ebooks right on your Facebook site.
  • Being on Facebook gives you a place to chat with your readers — While some people might come to your blog and comment, there are more who are likely to interact with you while they’re in the process of interacting with other folks, so it can be worthwhile to hang out where they hang out. (It’s the topic of another post, but this is why I have my blog syndicated on Goodreads.)
  • Facebook fans can share your links around — You may only have a hundred fans for your author page, but if a couple of them share some of your links now and then, you’ll have people that you couldn’t otherwise reach becoming aware of you and your work. If you have freebies or samples up on your Facebook page, these new folks can easily check you out when they pop in.

How do you get your own Facebook author page?

You can go here to make a Facebook fan page now.

You can use something like PageModo to make a free landing page or gate page if you want visitors to come in on something more enlightening than your wall. (A gate page is one where people are required to “like” your Facebook presence before they can get to the meaty stuff — I don’t do this, but I do have a welcome page that tells new visitors who I am and what they can do on my Facebook site.) If you don’t like the PageModo wizard, and you don’t want to do the coding yourself, you can also hire someone to design a custom Facebook page for you for around $150. (I’m having this done and hope to have the new version up in January.)

Authors, readers, what are your thoughts on Facebook?

Authors, Do You Have a Facebook Fan Page?

| Posted in Social Media |

21

FacebookI finally got around to creating a Facebook fan page this weekend. As far as social-media-sites-I-would-use-even-if-I-weren’t-an-author go, Facebook isn’t anywhere on the list (I don’t find the interface particularly intuitive, and the layout always strikes me as clusterf–, er, mess).

That said, a lot of people do use Facebook, so it’s probably worth putting a little time into creating an author presence there. If you like Facebook, this could even become a major way of promoting your books (I’ve heard of indie authors who have done quite well with it).

What you’ll want to do is create a Facebook Fan Page.

This is different from your personal profile where you post pictures of the kids and chat with relatives. This is your official author presence on Facebook. People don’t have to friend you to see what you’re up to, and (if you’re doing it right) they don’t have to wade through clutter about your life to find the tidbits that are interesting to them (these tidbits don’t need to be solely about your books, but you probably want to only post things that will appeal to your target audience).

How to Create a Facebook Fan Page

It’s pretty easy. Just head over to the Create a Page Wizard, and Facebook will walk you through the process. You’ll probably want to fill out a profile, upload an author picture, and perhaps some of the cover art for your books.

A lot of authors stop there, but I recommend creating a Welcome page as well.

Creating a “Welcome” Page

This replaces your “wall” as the first thing surfers see when they land on your page. It’s an opportunity to let a new visitor know about your books, about what you write, or maybe how to browse around the fan page (though it’s called a page, you can add multiple tabs, so, in essence, multiple pages). You can also integrate a form to encourage folks to sign up for your newsletter (you do have a newsletter, right?).

This may sound complicated, but I actually knocked a welcome page out in about five minutes using PageModo. While you can pay for more complicated Facebook Fan Page setups, there’s a free one-page option. Sure, it puts a “PageModo” logo on your welcome screen, but it’s not too obtrusive, and it’s a way to get started without learning how to install Facebook apps or write code.

I admit, mine’s not particularly inspiring (I mean it when I say I only spent five minutes on it), but I’m planning to see how much I get into promoting my books via Facebook first. If I end up sticking with it and get something out of it, I’ll hire someone to make a cool custom page.

If you have a Facebook fan page for folks to check out (I always like to snoop!), leave the address in the comments below.

Also, don’t forget to “like” mine if you stop in. Thanks!

Using Twitter to Promote Your Blog

| Posted in Social Media |

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Twitter Tips for Blog PromotionIf you’re an author or a book reviewer, you’re probably interested in getting more people to visit your blog. Heck, even if you’re rambling without an agenda, you’d probably love more blog visitors. It’s fun seeing your traffic stats climb.

We’ve talked about building links to get more search engine traffic to your blog, but social media sites can be another good way to attract visitors. I’m a fan of Twitter since it’s hard to waste a lot of time there (hey, how verbose can you be in 160 characters?), but it’s easy to check multiple times a day, and you can even get to know people over time. And — the reason why you’re here — you can use Twitter to bring more people to your blog.

Here are a few tips for promoting your blog (effectively) on Twitter:

  • Use titles or blurbs that answer the “What’s in it for me?” question for your followers — If your blog post title already does this, you can simply use it in your tweet, but you might have a little more room to entice folks. If you just say something like, “Hey, I updated my blog and here’s the link,” you’re less likely to get clicks than if you detail what you’ve written that’s worth reading.
  • Don’t just tweet links to your blog — I don’t even follow people who do this (and I’m not picky about who I follow back). Most tweeps want to engage with people, not get someone’s RSS feed in an alternate format. It’s called social media for a reason.
  • Don’t bury your own promotional tweets — While it is called social media, you won’t get many clicks if you post the link and then respond to thirty @ messages in the next five minutes. Most people aren’t sitting at their computers, following your Twitter stream 24/7 (an ego buster, I know). I often post a link to my blog before I’m heading offline to do other things. This gives people who check my tweets more time to notice it.
  • Link to your old articles too — I should do more of this myself. There’s nothing that says you can only tweet about your most recent blog post. Do you have some gems from the early days of your blog (back when you had no followers)? You can tweet links to them if they’re still relevant.
  • Have enough followers that you’ll get retweeted — This is the true power of Twitter. Thanks to the “retweet” button, it needn’t be just about promoting your blog to your followers. Your followers can promote it to their followers  and so on and so forth. An interesting article could bring you quite a few new visitors. You don’t necessarily need thousands of followers, just some that like to spread the word and share cool links. (Make sure to retweet them once in a while too so everyone benefits.)
  • Tweet during “prime time” — I’m not the best about this, since I’m a night owl in a late time zone, but Twitter tends to be most active during the work day (which says volumes about our culture), especially the morning. Your link will be more likely to be noticed if more people are online. If you’re in a different time zome from many of your followers (maybe you’re in Australia, but you have a lot of U.S. readers), check out some of the free services that let you schedule tweets.

Do you have any tips you’d like to add? Let us know below!

Twitter Basics for Authors

| Posted in Social Media |

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TwitterI’ve poked a bit of fun at Twitter in the past, but it’s actually my favorite social media site. The short messages don’t take long to write, and it doesn’t take long to check in on your “tweeps” each day. I haven’t found it to be nearly as much of a time sink as forums and Facebook (though I’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Facebook world, and will try to do more there eventually).

Twitter can be a decent place to promote your books, though perhaps not in the way people initially assume (that being the stalk-a-bunch-of-people-who’d-follow-anything-back-and-then-spam-your-book-links-every-15-minutes way).

As I’ve written before, I feel Twitter is more like a Starbucks than a Barnes & Noble. People are there to socialize and network, not necessarily to buy books. If you’re a writer, the real power of Twitter lies in meeting fans, authors, and book bloggers. These are folks who may retweet your tweets (repost your messages for their followers to see), trade blog links with you, and let you guest post on their sites.

Sure, some of these people might buy your books, too, but to think of only that is a little short-sighted. As authors, it’s not just about selling this one book to this one person; it’s about turning your name into a brand. There’s a reason Stephen King’s name is bigger than the title on his books. He’s become a brand, an extremely well-known one!

Here are answers to a few basic questions authors new to Twitter often have:

What should I tweet about?

There aren’t any real rules here. Just try to be interesting. Bonus points if you can be interesting to your target audience (AKA the folks you hope will buy your books). I’m not sure I always accomplish that, but, since I write fantasy, I post a lot of fantasy-related tweets. One of my most popular ones (most retweeted) was a link to steampunk wedding cakes.

It’s good to talk to other people, too, not just create a steady stream of links. After all, you’re here to network and meet future fans, right?

You can use the search box and browse people’s lists to find folks you might be interested in interacting with. Depending on your genre, you may be able to find weekly or monthly “chats” as well. People participate in them by using hash-tag keywords, so anyone searching for those keywords can follow along. I.e. #sfchat #yalitchat

How do I get more followers?

First off, let everybody know you’re on Twitter. Mention it on your blog, on Facebook, in forums, or wherever you already hang out online.

After that, go out and follow people with common interests. And make sure you look like someone people would want to follow back! Put your own interests in your bio–it’ll help people figure you out right away. Not everybody has the patience to read through a stream of tweets, deciding if you’re a common soul worth following.

Also, it helps to talk to the people you hope to entice into following you. Some folks aren’t actively looking to grow their list of followers, and they won’t automatically follow you just because you followed them. They want you to say hi first. Crazy souls, I know!

Okay, got all that? Here’s a little more on being follow-worthy:

People like folks who…

  • Follow back — You don’t need to follow spammers or people you’re not interested in, but, unless you’re already a celebrity, it’s a good idea to have a follow-back policy when you’re getting started. You may decide to keep that policy later on down the road, too, as it makes you appear approachable. Not a bad thing if you’re an author!
  • Mix up tweets — There’s no formula on what or how to tweet, but most of us are more interested in following human beings than those who could be Twitter-bots, simply retweeting and posting links. Consider a mix of dialogue (comments you make @ other tweeps), interesting links, endearing or wry commentary on what’s happening in your life, and retweets of other people’s posts.
  • Limit blatant promotion — I know, the only reason you’re on Twitter is because you want to promote your books, but people aren’t keen on being sold to. You can certainly mention your books with links to your site or the bookstore, but, when you do promote, consider making it less of a hard sell. I’ll often link to guest posts I’ve done, reviews people have written for my books, or just make comments on author life. If people are interested, my website is in my profile.

By the way, you can follow me, and I’ll follow you back if your interests are book-related and you don’t look like you’re going to sell me a used car or a get-rich-quick ebook.

How do I get people to list me?

On Twitter, you can make lists and place people in them (this makes it easier to follow conversations once you’re following a lot of people), and they can do the same for you. Being in lists meas appearing in more places where people can find you.

If you’re already doing the stuff we talked about in the how-to-get-followers section, you’ll probably find yourself placed on lists naturally, as you follow (and get followed by) more people.

Impatient? One easy way to get listed in more places is simply to find some lists where you think you’d fit (writers or indie authors, for example), and then follow the owner of the list. If they’re fairly active and have a fairly equal number of followers/following, there’s a good chance they’ll add you on the spot (just make sure something in your bio makes it clear you belong in that list).

Okay, enough Q&A for today.

Final words:

If you’re brand spanking new to Twitter, and some (much?) of this sounded like an alien language, you could check out one of the books out there for a more complete, starting at Ground Zero, introduction. They won’t be specific to authors and book promotion, but many of them cover marketing on Twitter.

What do the Twitter pros in the house think? Any more suggestions or caveats for up-and-coming tweeps?

6 Reasons You’re Not Selling a Zillion Books with Twitter

| Posted in Social Media |

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Twitter Humor

Do you keep hearing how great Twitter is for book promotion? Have you tried and failed to become rich and famous (or at least occasionally paid and mid-list) with social media, but it’s just not working out? It could be you just haven’t found your Tweeting grove. Let’s look at a few reasons you might not be selling many books on Twitter…

Warning: It should be obvious once you start reading, but the following post is written with my tongue drilling a hole in my cheek. There may be some truth between the lines, or there may not be… I’ll leave it for you to decide!

  1. Not Tweeting About Books Enough — Posting links to your books (at every single location they are available) ten times a day is not enough. Bump it up to 20 immediately. 50 is better! Your followers won’t mind. Really.
  2. Not Messaging Enough — It’s great that you promptly assault each new follower with a direct-message plea to buy your book and/or visit your website, but, really, just once? Are you an underachiever or what? Message every follower daily!
  3. Blurbs for Links Not Enticing Enough — Under no circumstances should you save people time by saying exactly what the link you’re posting is about. Be creative. You’re a writer, aren’t you? Entice your followers with vagueness and obfuscation. They love it!
  4. Not Enough Hashtags — If you’re #using #less #than #two #hashtags #per #tweet it’s not enough. Everyone who types something remotely related to books should find your tweet. Bonus points if you get rid of your blurbs altogether and post just a link with ten hashtag keywords.
  5. Not Enough Followers — You may think you’re hot stuff because you have 5,000 followers, but there are people out there with 100,000! That kind of makes you look like an underachiever, now, doesn’t it? Go build up your army. It doesn’t matter if the people following you don’t speak your language, don’t read books, and are only following you because they want you to follow them back. Bodies, man, you need bodies!
  6. Not Enough Funky Symbols in Your Tweets — Seriously, people, if you write fantasy and aren’t tweeting ascii swords in every other post, you’re losing out on impressing the tweeples with your elite skillz. No, ascii art didn’t go out of style in the 90s. Really. oxx)=———-

Okay, because I feel the need to add something useful here, I’ll repeat what I’ve mentioned in other posts: Twitter isn’t a great place to sell books directly, though, of course, you can still talk yours up from time to time. You might get lucky, but, for the most part, people are there to chat, not whip out their credit cards. The best use of your Twitter time is probably to make friends with fellow authors and bloggers, people who might be willing to review your books, to allow you to host giveaways on their sites, or to let you guest post for them.

Thoughts?

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