Authors: You’ve been doing Facebook marketing wrong.

… but it’s not your fault.

If you’ve been doing Facebook marketing as an author, you’ve probably been using a Facebook Page. In case you weren’t aware, a Page is the tool Facebook offers for businesses and brands, while a Profile is meant for individuals.

Since an author is both a person and a “brand,” you could make an argument for either one. But most authors I know have been using their author Page as their primary marketing tool on Facebook.

After all, it makes sense. Otherwise, you’re opening yourself up to getting friend requests from people you don’t know, who only know you through your books.

Kinda scary, right?

Also, Facebook Pages were previously the only way to run paid ads in the right column, or in the news feed (as “sponsored posts”). If you’ve been using your author Page for your Facebook marketing, you’ve just been doing exactly what Facebook has suggested you do. In fact, it’s what I’ve been recommending to people for a while, when asked by writer friends. But I’m now revising my opinion.

Here’s why that’s all wrong.

With a Page, you don’t have friends, you have “Likes” (previously “Fans”). You probably at some point were under the impression that when you post to your author Page, all your fans/likes would see your posts in their news feed.

Au contraire, mon frere.  Facebook has an algorithm, previously called EdgeRank. It’s like the Google search algorithm, or Amazon’s algorithm, in that it calculates what posts will end up in an individual’s news feed.

As volume of posts on Facebook, both from individuals and businesses, has exploded in the past few years, the percentage of posts that can fit in your news feed has gotten squished into a smaller number. As of a year ago, you could expect about 15% “reach” for all your Facebook Page content.

That means that if you had 100 Likes on your Page,  only about 15 of those people would actually see your posts in their news feed.

But Facebook activity has changed their algorithm again. As of late 2013, take a wild guess what the average reach for a Page has been?

Between 3% and 5%. So for every hundred fans you manage to get to like your page, only 3-5 of them will ever see the things you post on it.   

And getting people to like your Page is no easy feat, either. Now that you know you’re doing it and only getting seen by 3-5% of them, does it seem like a good use of your time?

Now, please note that when I say that your post reach is 3-5%, I’m talking about “organic” reach. You can still boost that by paying to sponsor your posts. But the clickthrough rates for Facebook ads, even in the news feed as sponsored posts, is sort of dismal.

So what now?

If I were going to make any recommendation, it would be that you move the focus of your Facebook activity to your profile.

What? But I don’t want to have all my readers sending me friend requests!

You don’t have to, bunkies. You can set your privacy settings so that only friends of your existing friends can send you a request. Others have the option of “following” you, like on Twitter. It’s a one-way relationship where they are declaring they want to see your posts, but you don’t have to see the posts of a bunch of total strangers.

But I don’t want my readers seeing everything I post, Kat!

Again, not necessary. You can change your settings so that only friends see your posts by default. You can even retroactively set your previous posts to only be seen by your friends or their friends. That way, your updates about your lunch or your kids baseball game only go to your friends.

When you have a book launch, or want to post about your WIP or writing process, you can select “Public” from the dropdown for just that post (see the screenshot below).

Posting-Options

Why do it this way? 

Because I assume that for now, posts from a Profile probably get shown more often than posts from a Page. Facebook’s business model is built on two things: keeping your eyeballs on the newsfeed so they can sell those eyeballs to businesses.

If you’re posting from a Profile, you look more like “content from someone you know,” as opposed to “a business we can squeeze for paid ads.”

Another benefit to this? One Account to Rule Them All. Instead of feeling like you have to manage two different Facebook accounts, you get to manage ONE account, and just remember to sprinkle in posts directed at your fans and readers among your other posts.

But what if I want to run ads? 

Then promote your profile posts. Facebook quietly launched the ability to promote profile posts in the newsfeed a while back. It’s no longer exclusive to Pages.

Isn’t this against Facebook’s Terms of Service?

Nope. If you were a local pizzeria, and your Profile name was “Bobby’s House of Pizza” you would be violating the TOS. But since an author is both a business/brand and a bona-fide human being with a real human name, you have the option to go either way and still be okay.

What are you going to do, Kat? 

Well, I’m not going to delete my Page. The header graphic is a good place for me to advertise my books, and if people stumble across it in search, it’s just free advertising for me. I’ll probably continue to update it with any big news, like book launches or sales or giveaways.

But my “sneak peek into the writing process” stuff is going to move to my profile. And the links that I have to Facebook in things like email sigs are going to start pointing to my profile. Whenever I have the opportunity to push someone in a direction to find me on Facebook, I’ll be nudging them towards the profile, which they can follow.

As with all things internet marketing, this will likely change in a year. But the point of this post is, it already has changed since last year, and it’s probably time to update your strategy.

6 Comments


  1. ·

    Thank you so much for sharing this Kat. This is very valuable knowledge. I am now seriously considering using my regular account instead of my “author page”.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      ·

      Thanks, Jack. I do think that it’s valuable to *have* an author page, but if your marketing strategy is posting little excerpts, updates on progress, or “slice of the author’s life” updates, those would be better served by posting on your profile.

      Reply

  2. ·

    So, I’m going to print this out and tack it to my bulletin board, thank you! And I love the word counts posted on the blog. You’re quite the inspiration and I need all the help I can get.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      ·

      Glad you found it helpful. And speaking of the word counts, I need to make sure I’m updating them! I have to do it manually and I haven’t gotten in the habit yet!

      Reply

  3. ·

    This is a great article, and is something I’ve been dealing with for a long time. I’m wondering how engaging “fans” through social media compares to having them subscribe to an email list. If only 3-5% of people are seeing my page in their feed organically, how many people that subscribe to an email list would actually open the email? It seams like the email is a bigger commitment on the part of the reader, but I know that my latest content gets sent direct to them every time. Lately I’ve decided to focus on creating a website with my work. I still share the posts from my website/blog, but it’s no longer limited to a FB post. I have organic google searches helping out, and each post can be shared via FB and twitter. So many options.

    Reply
    1. Kat
      ·

      There *are* a lot of options, and not a lot of time. If you use Jetpack’s autopost utility, it can be a way to keep your Facebook presence updated with links to your latest blog content, without taking additional time.

      As far as email goes, I’ve been thinking for a while that it might be a much better avenue than Facebook, provided you’ve got a good content strategy for your newsletter. A recent survey from SilverPop indicates that email open rates are around 18.9% in the US in general. For education, that number jumps to 26%. Even the bottom quartile is 7-8.5%, which is about double the reach for Facebook.

      The tricky part of that is getting people to sign up. An email sign up is a much higher friction transaction than liking a Facebook page. Raises worries about privacy, spamming, etc. So it’s more work on the acquisition side, but better return in terms of reach.

      Reply

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