Facebook is currently the best place to build long-term relationships with readers. Unlike Twitter where conversations disappear, Facebook keeps those memorable interactions for years. Where Twitter is like running into someone you know (or are interested in knowing) on the street, Facebook is like sitting down on your front porch or at a favorite local coffee shop to get to talk. It has an intimacy and a one-on-one or small group feel.
But with all the algorithm changes, many authors have abandoned their Facebook pages. Some have gone to using their personal profiles, others have gone to creating reader groups. But both options have downfalls.
Using your profile, you can only have 5000 friends. You can’t sell directly from your profile (that violates Facebook rules) and you don’t want to share personal information about your family/home/favorite places to shop or eat with fans you don’t know. Also your real friends and family aren’t usually your target audience so you’ll bug them with all your attempts to talk about your writing and books that they aren’t interested in.
Using a group is great in ADDITION to a page as it gives readers that feeling of being part of an intimate group, but asking readers who have never read your work to join a group is a big turnoff. They know nothing about you yet. They won’t make that commitment or want to hear spoilers about your books that often get shared in reader groups. And they certainly won’t wait to be approved to join a group.
A page is essential to creating a professional author brand.
When someone hears about you, they are going type your name into the search bar. You want them to find your page. You want them to immediately connect with your brand. Your author photo, bio, and header should make a strong first impression like the exterior of your favorite place to shop. Your call to action button should lead to your website so they can easily learn more about you.
Pick a color scheme (usually one that matches your website) that appeals to your readers. I chose deep reds and turquoise because my readers are a cross between historical and contemporary romance. Make sure your logo and/or author photo is someone a reader would want to approach. If you write books with humor, then go with a more laid back author photo (still professional, but maybe a bright colored shirt, a smile, a casual pose). I chose a photo where I look more mature, someone you’d want to share your spiritual depths with. I use a labyrinth as my logo because I want to journey with readers into God’s presence and come back out better, wiser people.
Spend a day going through a free use photo site and choose images that go with the feel you want for your readers and cataloged those photos for future use. Again if you write historical romance, you’re going to want things that appeal to reflecting on days gone by versus a contemporary romance author who may want something that appeals to modern urban romantics or southern small town romantics.
Make your page a place people want to stay and scroll.
You want them to come inside and scroll through your post content. This is why branding is so important. Your photos, posts, etc should all create an environment your readers want to hang out in. Ask yourself—why you? Why should they want to build a relationship with you? What do your books offer that other books don’t? What is it you offer?
For me that was identifying my desire to create a safe place to talk about the tough topics of life. My books all have an underlying tone of healing and show the diverse paths that walking with God can take. I flip between lighter content to make people feel comfortable speaking up (what’s your favorite ice cream) and deeper topics like dealing with toxic relationships.
People on Facebook want their moments of connection to be more of a long-term dialogue. Think of each post as creating a table to talk. Put a little of yourself, but open it up for readers to talk about themselves. This is why quotes and questions and funny pet posts work so well. They are places where readers feel they can chime in. It’s professional yet personal.
Make your content worth perusing. Have great questions for people to answer. Share quotes and articles about your passions and your books.
Facebook Pages is not a numbers game
Unlike many other sites like Twitter and Instagram, how many followers you have is significantly less important than the amount of interaction you have. These are the folks you’re going to count on when it comes to spreading the word about your new release. You want them to feel like they know you and you know them. This is where you’re going to get your street teams from.
But it is a numbers game for knowing how to work the algorithms. There are a few tricks to this.
#1 Don’t put outside links in your posts. Facebook doesn’t want you leaving Facebook, and honestly you don’t really want readers to either. If you really need to put a link to a giveaway or blog post, put it in the first comment box.
#2 Ask questions in every post or put a call to action that requires a comment. Creating dialogue is what gets Facebook algorithms to prioritize your posts and share with more people. Good call to actions are things like tag a friend that you can count on or help me name this character.
#3 Do Facebook Live posts at a regular day/time. This is probably the most beneficial way to grow an audience. People love to interact with the authors they love. Give them that opportunity to ask you questions or to hear information from you in person. Likewise make sure to answer your inbox and set up your messenger to send an auto response if you’re not on Facebook regularly. NOT responding to people in a timely fashion makes a bad impression.
#4 Make sure you’re device friendly. Most Facebook users now interface through their phones. Whether it’s your cover having a clear title/author name not muddled in the image or cursive font that can’t be read small OR a quote graphic or other imagery. Make sure it looks good on a phone. Scroll through your Facebook page on your phone or have someone else do it and tell you what looks bad and what works. Also keep your posts short. Phones don’t scroll those long texts well.
Learn Facebook Ads and Events
Facebook ads are powerful little tools if you know how to use them and you can’t do them without a page. You need solid graphics, to know your target audience, and to have a bit of a budget ($10/week). Use them to promote Facebook events and book releases. This is how you grow your audience. Use them to reach a wider demographic, but make sure what you’re offering is too good to pass up.
If you have a book launch event, have a giveaway at that event for something other than a copy of your book. A $20 Amazon or Barnes and Nobles gift card is enough for someone to invest in attending an event for someone they’ve never met before.
This is also an incentive you can use with your followers to get them to share with their friends. You can also share the event with your email subscribers and bring them into your Facebook family.
The more visual you can be, the more success you will have with pages. And if you’re also on Instagram you can easily share content to both sites. You can even put product tags for your book in your Instagram photos
The key to success on Facebook is to create the feeling of community with like minded people. Make sure you know your niche reader and appeal to them. Others will follow and feel immediately at home. Go visit some of your favorite pages and figure out what appeals to you about them? What do they share? Notice how their graphics probably match in font/style/color palette. I love TobyMac for his quotes and I can pick his out of a stream of posts on Facebook. That’s what you want. Something that people distinctly recognize as something from you, in a long feed of posts.
If you struggle with target reader here’s a trick. Go find someone who comments regularly. Click on their profile then go to MORE on their tab bar and click LIKES. This will show you the pages that they follow. Click through and see what types of things they like. Do they have lots of DIY? Cooking? Other authors that they follow? Take those interests and think about ways you can appeal to them.
What is your favorite Facebook page? What is it that you love about it? Share below in the comments and feel free to ask questions as well.
Jessica White writes stories that shape the soul. The third book in her historical series, Dispelling the Darkness, will be out this summer. Her first contemporary romance will be published March 2020 with Mantle Rock. You can learn more about her and her books at her website. Sign up for her quarterly newsletter to receive a free 30 day devotional and come along with her as she journeys with God on her Facebook page.