I’ve got Twitter Tuesday already going on this blog now and we’ll pick it up again as a feature next week, and yet, a lot of questions keep popping up about Facebook, so Facebook Friday, it is!
How do authors use this massive, privacy-ignorant behemoth?
And if you say absolutely no Facebook, then you can read this at your own risk. But, you just might want to sign up for an account after this! So beware!
Facebook is the controversial invention of Mark Zuckerberg. If you haven’t seen a movie that spins this story in a lovely demented sort of alter-universe way, watch The Social Network. An incredible film (if only it were true) with superb acting and an incredible storyline (if only it were true). Ah well, Sorkin created for us an alter-West Wing, so what do we expect? (Such good television; I’m rewatching all of the seasons of The West Wing right now, just for the dialogue!)
Facebook is a place where you, a published author or a prepublished author, can start a profile, start a Page (about you, your book, your business, your favorite book club, whatever), and then interact with millions of other people (well, there are limits on your actual profile connections) who are talking news, politics, gossip, books, television, family, sports, and you name it, they’re talking about it.
So, first question: profile versus Page.
I think if you are ultra-concerned about your privacy, start a profile and don’t friend ANYONE that you don’t already know or want to know online. This is your private friend/acquaintance zone. You can then start a Page about you or your book (more on that later) and then on that Page don’t share ANYTHING that you don’t want the entire world to know or have access to. With a Page, anyone can like that Page, so you can’t block anyone unless they are explicitly threatening or harassing you. You can remove their ability to post items to your Page, but more on that later as well.
The key thing to remember is that Facebook frequently CHANGES privacy settings for PROFILES (Pages are a whole different animal). And they do this unilaterally. You wake up one day and Facebook has set your profile to be viewable to Google searches, or your own pictures are appearing on their internal advertisements (you don’t make money on those either). So, to use Facebook, be vigilant. In your account (a dropdown menu on every page you visit in Facebook), there are privacy settings and you would do well to take a look and make some decisions about who and what you want accessing your profile.
Second question: Author Page or Book Page.
For authors who are prepublished, this may seem like a rather minor distinction, but for authors who have even one book coming out and others in the hopper, well, the idea of wrangling more than one Page is already overwhelming enough. I think this is where everyone is figuring it out for themselves. My suggestion, and this is me taking a pass from actually telling anyone what to do, is to see what your favorite authors are doing or see what authors who write similar books for similar audiences are doing. I’m not sure that there is a “one-size-fits-all” answer here. I think an author Page is a must, but a former book agent (Nathan Bransford) has made a strong case for a book-specific Page as well. The main question is: if you have more than one book to promote, how do you feel about keeping up more than one Page? (We’ll talk about what keeping up a page entails later.)
Third question: What do I put on my author or book-specific Page anyway?
This is the fun part. Once you get past all the privacy issues and the decision about what kind of Page to have, you’re on the homestretch. First, of course you put info on you, your book(s), and your website, your background, your blog, your Twitter, your email newsletter (if you have one and I think you should have one), your book tour, everything and anything that pertains to your BOOK and your BOOK WRITING. Then once that’s done, you get to engage your audience. How? My favorite trick is Google Alerts. For a book-specific Page, this is like ultra easy. You set up a Google Alert with the key search terms that your book is about. For a book about gardening, the search term would be gardening. A book about friendship, the search term would be friendship. A better result would be urban gardening or interspecies friendship. The more specific you can get, the better Google responds. And when you get those alerts and you find a good news story or good hook, you put up a status or a link on your PAGE and invite the folks (both those who LIKED your Page and who are just checking you out to see whether or not to LIKE your Page) to respond. This is a great way to engage and to do research on what people are looking for when they want to talk about the subject of your book. Of course, you’ll mention every so often that you have a book on this, but don’t overdo it! A little bit goes a long way.
Next week on Facebook Friday, we’ll dig deeper into some of this. In the meantime, questions or comments?