Talk about good timing.
Facebook has been in the news recently, with the company announcing groups, downloading and several other new features, the opening of Social Network, the semi-fictionalized account of how Mark Zuckerberg started the service, and Malcolm Gladwell’s piece on social networks in the latest issue of The New Yorker.
I didn’t know any of that would be happening back in early summer when I asked social media expert Trish Lawrence to be my guest for the Sept. 29 Word Count Last Wednesday to talk about how writers can use Facebook to promote themselves and their business.
Coincidences aside, Lawrence has great information on how Facebook can fit into a writer’s promotional efforts. She should know. She’s the owner of real/brilliant, a Seattle company that helps authors develop social media platforms to build their online presence, brand them as experts, and ultimately, sell more books. You can read more about what Lawrence does on her blog.
Here’s a summary of Lawrence’s advice on using Facebook from the chat. The questions came from me and other writers on the chat. The answers are all from Lawrence, though I’ve added some links and other details.
On Facebook, what’s the difference between a page and a profile?
There’s not much of a difference technically. They have the same options, but the perception about who will read it is different. A page establishes you as a business, as an expert; a profile is the same as any other Facebook user.
If you’re already on Facebook, should you have a separate page for your business?
It depends on your goals for the page. Are you looking to be seen as an expert? Of course! A page takes you to that level. Facebook is #1. More people get on Facebook than check their email first thing in the morning. Every company that you can think of is on FB.
If you’re a writer and you have a blog about a specific topic, should you have a Facebook page to support that?
Yes, a blog needs to be seen on Facebook. You can post to a profile, but if you post to a page, it is a different way of promoting. At some point soon, Facebook users won’t even leave to read blog updates or to chat or interact. It’s a big point of contention right now.
So do you put your blog posts in Facebook?
Yes, I funnel all my blog posts into Facebook as a content aggregator. This helps the Facebook page to have new content every day. That is what all the experts say: new content everyday. And it has to be good, helpful info, not promos every single day, info your readers and followers can use. I use http://dlvr.it/ to funnel my blogs to my social network. It’s all automatic. You can see how posting to your Facebook page affects your blog traffic and your interaction with your audience. Do they like coming to your blog? If you find that your audience doesn’t like to leave Facebook, than you may have content on both Facebook and your blog.
Is it possible for writers to keep a private area on FB, or at some point does it become a problem?
Yes, it is possible with a profile. If writers want to have something private, they should have both page and a profile. That way writers can limit their friends for their private life and still maintain promotional activities. A lot of authors and agents are stalked on Facebook, so a page is the way they’ve decided to control it. Facebook is actually encouraging it. Not only are they making it super easy to set up a page, but they also encourage customized pages.
So all the friend requests I get from work colleagues, I should funnel to a page for my writing business, not my private page?
Yes, if that is important to you. I crowd everything together myself, but this is a great way to keep your private and public (business) separate. If someone wants to read my private stuff as well, more power to ’em.
Where does the new Facebook groups feature fit into all of this?
I’m not a big fan of the new Facebook groups feature actually, although I haven’t yet seen it in action. From what I’ve read, I think the new Groups feature defeats the purpose of social media networking. I would recommend that writers not take advantage of their friends on Facebook by adding them to groups unilaterally. I actually think Facebook will have to change reverse this wacky decision in the next few weeks, if not days.
Have you followed Anne Rice on Facebook? She’s fascinating. She’s also on Twitter.
Yes, she is an interesting person to watch. Great for experimentation purposes! I also watched Steven Pressfield get on Facebook. He was not going to do it, but he has had a blast. Don Miller is another author who has harnessed social media to really push his ideas out to the world. Tracking famous writers is a great way to find out what’s working and to be inspired. The world of social media for authors is really still being created. As we watch people become more active, we can see what works. To get other ideas, you might take a look at my Facebook friends list; most are authors/agents. My FB page is: facebook.com/realbrilliant.
Are there other apps or add ons that make publishing content to Facebook easier?
There are so many ways to spread content around that whatever you can do to make it easy for people, the better. I love AddToAny for my WordPress blog, which makes it easy to send my content to the social network. I also love a WordPress plugin called Scribe that allows me to find other blogs and Twitter users talking about my key words to link to. Scribe does cost a monthly fee, however. Networkedblogs is a great one too.
People used to differentiate between how they used LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but does it matter? Should you use all of them and all the same way?
I think it still matters. Authors tend to answer questions on LinkedIn, post updates on Twitter and chat with friends on Facebook. Facebook is a great traffic builder. It is so important to do what works best for you and to test, test, test. But the most important thing across all social networks is to have a strategy. What are you trying to accomplish? Expert status? Are you going to be a publisher? (of ebooks, ecourses) Are you going to be a consultant? You use them all with a main strategy, but for different purposes.
What’s the biggest mistake people make with Facebook pages?
Starting a page and leaving it there alone. Even if you only post one news item a day, that helps the page to stay alive.
Any other words of wisdom?
A great book on this subject is Facebook Marketing an Hour a Day by Chris Treadaway and Mari Smith. It has great information to help your decisions with Facebook. Here are a few other action items: Research five authors for what you like about what they are doing on the social networks. Create a page for yourself separate from your profile and begin to play with content such as blog posts, pictures and conversation. Try to drill down to the purpose for your page and your presence on Facebook. What are you trying to accomplish with all this content? As authors, we provide solutions through our words. That’s the ultimate purpose of a Facebook profile or page. It’s important to think about what you are sharing so you will have a permanent social record to be proud of.
If you’re interested in learning more, Trish Lawrence will be teaching a course on social media for authors through Writer’s Digest University in late 2010 or early 2011. The course is titled Social Media 101 for Writers: 4 Core Competencies for Building a Meaningful Online Presence. Visit Lawrence’s website, http://www.realbrilliant.com/blog, and sign up for her e-newsletter to be notified when registration opens.
Got your own advice to share about using Facebook to promote your writing? Let’s hear it.