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Fantastic Facebook Fan Pages

Today I have an interview with Miles Christian Daniels, founder and co-partner of milesmaria, about how to make your Facebook Page (formerly known as a “Fan Page”) fantastic.

milesmaria is a publicity, communications and media company that works with authors, filmmakers and entrepreneurs to “tell their story.” For writing tips, social media how-to, the latest in publishing news and access to publicity experts who stay on top of trends so you don’t have to, become a fan of the milesmaria Facebook Page.

Writerland: I’m a writer, but not a published author. Do I need a Facebook Fan Page? (why/why not?)

Miles: That depends.

The first question to ask yourself is do I want to be a published author? Most writers do. Even if you’re a journalist at a daily newspaper, but envision one day writing a book, start thinking in that direction now. 

Marketing guru Seth Godin says that the best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. That might seem a bit extreme, but his point is that you have to start thinking of yourself as a competitive, self-confident, driven-to-succeed entrepreneur. You are the brand. Your book is your product.

Do not be shy about this. 

Authors can no longer romanticize the isolated writing life where one writes his or her masterpiece in a dimly-lit office, lands a lucrative publishing deal, and then gets by with a short-lived media blitz, a handful of book signings and college-campus readings. That gap has been closed by the deluge of social media outlets and the intimate connection fans/readers often expect with the author of a book they read and like. 

You have to be present, engaged, and part of the ongoing dialogue. In return, you’ll not only have a loyal base, but an ever-growing platform—very attractive to potential publishers.

Writerland: If I don’t have a website, can I use my Facebook Page as my website?

Miles: Not yet.

Although nearly half of the United States population is on Facebook, and more than five hundred million worldwide, you should not force those who are not on Facebook to create Profiles in order to gain access to you. Websites are still a must and serve a very different purpose than social media outlets. We always suggest both/and and encourage our clients to cross promote within each. 

Writerland: I already have two Facebook Profiles, one for friends and one for business. Should I delete the Profile I use for business and create a Page instead? What are the advantages of a Page over a second Profile?

Miles: First, Facebook only allows one Profile per person. If they catch you trying to get around this, they reserve the right to terminate all accounts, which would be sad considering the amount of work that goes into creating these.

The same goes for business accounts. You are not supposed to create a business account if you already have a Profile account.

Our suggestion, steer clear of business accounts and instead create a personal Profile and then a Page for your supporters, followers, readers … those who will ultimately “Like” you.

Writerland: I heard Facebook is rolling out changes on March 10. What new features will the Pages have? 

Miles: Yes, Facebook is in the process of rolling out new Page features and, like these or not, you have until March 10th to make the switch.

You’ve probably already noticed the changes on many of the Pages you “Like.” Just to be clear, this does not affect your Profile layout. Those changes took place late last year.

Besides simply shifting some of the basic Page function options around, Facebook has added a few features that administrators should note:

1.) Facebook has decided to continue to allow for customized tabs, except now they’re not technically tabs. Whatever you call these, with the new roll out, these are now located below the Page’s main, upper left-hand picture, rather than along the top of the Page.

2.) One of the more exciting changes is the ability to toggle between being identified as “administrator” and the actual Page itself. Let’s say, for example, that milesmaria (my company) wants to “Like” a particular writing Group or author Page. In the past, any comment I made on this Group or Page wall would have been under my Profile (or birth) name. Now, I can comment as our own milesmaria Page. For individual authors, this may not be a huge improvement, but as a brand or Group, this new feature is a welcomed one.

3.) Aligned with #2, a Page can now “Like” another Page. These “liked” Pages are shown on the left of your own Page and up to five can be displayed at a time. You can even decided which you want featured—or not. This provides a great opportunity for promotion and partnership.

4.) It’s worth noting that there have been quite a few erroneous reports around the five-picture photo strip at the top of the new Page design. In spite of what you may have read, these do not function as they do in Profiles. Upon refreshing your Page, Facebook automatically switches these out. You can, however, still “hide” photos you don’t want in the strip, but the hope of customizable strips, especially if they require that photos stay in sequence, is not an option with the new design.

5.) In addition to the aforementioned, there are other Page changes that we see as improvements: new wall filters and administrator view options, e-mail notifications for Page activity and—we think—an overall cleaner layout.

Writerland: If I have a book published, should I create a Page for myself or my book? If I have a book coming out, how can I emphasize that on my Page?

Miles: Luckily, you have the option to do both.

If you’re Stephen King, it might be a good idea to have a Page for yourself and one for your popular books. For example, Carrie and Pet Cemetery each has its own Page with a loyal following. Even King’s lesser-known books have significant fan bases.

Even so, let’s face it, most authors don’t have the reach of Stephen King, so it’s important to ask yourself these tough questions.

While not as popular as King, David Eggers is an acclaimed author who has both an author Page and a separate Page for his wildly acclaimed memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

If you search Facebook for Kathryn Stockett, you’ll see that she has a personal Profile with just over a hundred friends. Her author Page boasts just over 2,000 fans. And her bestselling book, “The Help?” Just under 100,000 fans.

She obviously keeps her professional and personal Facebook presences separate.

Some authors allow “fans” as “friends” on their Profile Pages. That’s another whole Q&A. We don’t recommend it, but to each their own.

If you anticipate or have already had a widely successful book, then go ahead and try your luck at a Page for that book and a separate Page for you, the author.

Otherwise, beef up your author Page and utilize third-party apps that allow you to create individual sections for each of your books. When the new book is about to be released, bring it to the forefront of your author Page.

Either way, if fans like you and what you’ve written, they’ll find you. As Woody Allen once said, “Ninety percent of life is showing up.” This is especially true on Facebook.

Writerland: How can I best use a Facebook Page to market myself?

Miles: In spite of what many think, the primary focus of your Facebook Page should not be on marketing yourself (or your book). Think of it as an 80/20 rule. 80 percent of your wall postings should add value and build loyalty with your fans. Share tidbits, interesting ideas, free writing tips, and other no-strings-attached content. Use the other 20 percent to promote yourself and your book. Include your book signings under events. Post reviews and articles as links. Add pictures of you and your fans.

Most importantly, appear accessible.

If your website is your business card, then Facebook is your online greeting card.

It’s where you connect on a much more personal level with readers who bought your book, read it, and now want to engage with you and others who like you and your work as much as they do.

The one thing to remember with building out your Page is to think of it as a marathon, rather than a sprint.

Unless you hit the New York Times bestseller list right away or for some reason you and your book go viral, fans will trickle in rather than rush to your doorstep. Even if your fan base if 40, post as if it’s 40,000. Eventually, it will be.

28 comments to Fantastic Facebook Fan Pages

  • This is really great information, thank you both! The personal versus professional Facebook page is something I debate constantly, and this gives me some more information to make a good decision. I've bookmarked it for future reference, hehe.

  • Kristan – I feel the same way. I love my "business" Profile and hate to give it up. I also feel a bit weird starting a Page when I don't have a book published. If I started it for Writerland, I wouldn't feel shy about asking people to "like" it, but like Miles said, the author is the brand. Your books and blogs are your products, so you want to start a Page for YOU not your product (unless you're Stephen King). Good luck with the decision-making!

  • This was a great post, Meghan.

    Alas, I totally loathe Facebook and I'm not sure how to turn my attitude about it around. Does your marketing guy have some advice on that? Maybe there's an OTC drug I could take?

    I much prefer my little ole blog for marketing purposes. With FB, I fear becoming the equivalent of that boorish oaf who's always trying to hand out business cards at social functions. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I like to keep professional and personal realms separate, and I feel like FB is about blending all that together into one big stew.

  • This is a great post and thanks for the info. But I absolutely 100% hate that Facebook officially only allows one account per profile. That is incredibly shortsighted because it encourages the whole world to see pictures of your children, which is NOT ON.

    Until Facebook addresses this potentially very dangerous problem, they'll get two accounts from me, or none. A page for fans is completely lame because I want to actually interact with people–and unpublished authors don't have fans, anyway. Miles says we need to interact with others rather than promote (Yes! yes!), but you can't do that very well through a fan page.

    Like KLM, I'm with keeping professional and personal lives separate, and I can guarantee there are tons of people out there who feel the same way. I know there are, because you do it, I do it, and I've seen tons of agents and writers say they do it.

  • Sierra – Good point about interacting with fans. That is one of my reservations about switching from a second Profile to a Page – that my "fans" will see my updates, but I won't see theirs. I disagree that unpublished authors don't have fans, though. Facebook is even dropping the term "Fan" from "Page." I think your fans will be your friends in the beginning – you have friends, so you have fans. And the fan page keeps the people you don't want to see pictures of your kids off your Profile page. Still, the whole lack of interaction IS still a problem. On the other hand, do you WANT to be getting status updates from 5000 people you don't know? Probably not.

  • Haha, decision made. I think this post was the straw that broke the camel's back, actually. So thank you, I think?

    But yeah, I just published my Author page. Feels weird… but I'm also looking forward to not having to worry about random Friend requests. Now my Personal FB is truly just for real life friends and family, while my Writer FB is for all the wonderful peeps (like you!) that I meet because of writing.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SierraGodfrey and Meghan Ward, milesmariatweet. milesmariatweet said: miles discusses with meghan ward how authors/writers can, and should, utilize facebook to interact with readers … […]

  • Though I used FB to promote a self-published book, and acquired 175 "likes" utilizing FB advertising to get a targeted demographic, the ROI was severely negative and so I don't promote the work via paid advertisement further and pay little attention to the FB page I set up for it. The one thing to keep in mind regarding all this is the "work" itself. In my case it was poetry, and though it has received accolade from various sources, it is not a viable commercial product. That aside, if you have a viable commercial product, be sure to utilize FB advertisement to drive people to your FB page, and or site directly, and utilize the FB LIKE scripts which can be added to any website free.

  • KLM – I don't know how I missed your comment before! I guess that's why people have two FB Profiles – or one Profile and one Page – to keep biz separate from personal. I tend to post to my "Business" Profile more because that's where the tweets about my blog posts and articles I read go, and I can't help wondering sometimes if I'm not annoying my FB friends with too many links, etc. I think the key is balance – I need to share more of my personal life on my biz Profile, even though I have a separate personal Profile and many of the same people follow both – so I can't repeat myself. Another issue, like Sierra mentioned, is the lack of ability to follow people back using a (Fan) Page. It seems so one-sided to have a Page instead of a second Profile. I'm torn about how to handle that one. On the other hand, I love FB. I'll ask Miles if he knows of a good OTC drug you can take 🙂

  • Kristan – very exciting! I published mine, but haven't advertised it yet. Let's "like" each other 🙂 You need 25 likes to create a personalized URL, but fewer than 100 to change the name of your Page ("Kristan Hoffman" vs "Kristan Hoffman Author" for example). Just last night I added a FB "like" box to the sidebar of my blog, so you can "like" me there! I'll search yours, too.

  • I think I need to switch over to threaded comments! Sorry these are all out of sequence. I'm commenting separately because my comments are so long.

    Michael – I added my Facebook "Like" Box last night! I never thought of using FB ads, but that's a good idea. I wonder how much they cost. The advantage of creating an author Page over a product Page (for a book or a blog), is that you can change it as your products change. If I create a page for Writerland and then decide to change the name of my blog, or stop blogging, or want to focus on my book, I don't need to keep creating new Pages. I can just use my Meghan Ward page and adjust it accordingly. Anyway, thanks for the comment!

  • […] A lot of you had very insightful things to say, and after thinking them over, as well as reading this post about Facebook pages, I went ahead and took the […]

  • Meghan, this post is fantastic! I must admit, I linked over from Kristan's post, but it's nice being back in Writerland. 🙂 I'm not going to advertise an author page for myself just yet, but I'm going to make one too. I feel the same way about Twitter. I'm there, but I don't say much. It makes me a little nervous just blurting out when everyone else is talking (which, really, isn't like me–ask Kristan!)

    I'm off to "like" a few people. xx

  • This is a fascinating interview, and thanks to you both for such an in-depth discussion. But it reinforces everything I feel about Facebook–it's a bully. It invades your privacy to the point of putting your family at risk and chips away at free will and choice with endless, stupid rules. You aren't allowed to list yourself as "self-employed" any more. You must work for a corporation. (I now work "at" self-employed.) You aren't allowed to list any interests that don't have corporate logos. And it's just plain irritating. Those stupid photo squares across the top of my page are making me crazy. Anybody with my (very common) name gets their picture up there, but I can't post one myself? They are behaving as if they are the Borg. (Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.)

    But they only have power if we give it to them. Some people think their power has peaked (and don't bother with buying ads–they have a notoriously low click-through rate.) I have a discussion going on my blog about whether now that FB has been bought by Goldman Sachs et al. if it's going the way of Rupert Murdoch's MySpace. It's just not that cool any more.

    I totally agree that you should never count on a site someone has to "join" for your publicity. Blogs are so much better. So is Twitter. Something new will topple Facebook soon and I'm all for it.

  • Sarah – Great to have you back! And yes, I'll be visiting your blog again soon. My dilemma with my fan page (as I've mentioned before) is that I already have two profiles, so I'm afraid my friends are going to think "OMG – ANOTHER FB page?", so I may hold off a bit before I advertise it. On the other hand, I need 25 followers to claim my URL, so I need to get the word out to a few people!

    Anne – Thanks so much for your comment. It will be interesting to see where FB goes from here, and I didn't know that you could no longer list yourself as self-employed. That's super-annoying! (And there are a few other things that annoy me about FB, too. It's not perfect.) I'm not sure what's going on with your photo strip, though. Photos of OTHER Anne Allen's are showing up there? You should be able to untag yourself in those photos to make them disappear, or – at least on a Page (vs a Profile), you can "hide" the photos to remove them from the photo strip. I'll have to play around with mine. And I can't wait to read the discussion about FB on your blog!

  • Thanks so much for all your advice. I just started on Facebook 2 days ago, and being over 50, that says a lot. Every step has been painful. I was able to put up (self-employed) and am still struggling with the photo strip at the top. Regardless, it gets easier and I can see how it can be a very useful tool. Starting a blog about 4 months, was also a challenge, but I'm starting to get the hang of it. This post helped a lot.

  • Thanks for the post! I made a fan page after I read another post (probably the one that led me here!). My critique group just finished editing my book so I hope my marketing works in three years!

    Thanks again.

  • Ken – I've found creating a page and managing the photo strip a huge pain and I'm under 50, so take heart! I'm hoping FB will streamline that process in its next update. Thanks for stopping by – I'll check out your new blog.

    Taffy – Congrats on your critique group finishing your book! Have you been revising as you go, or do you need to sit down now and go over the whole thing? That's great that you created your Facebook Page!

  • Maybe not the best place to ask this, but — On a App Profile Page (similar to a Fan Page) is there an option to hide the photo tab from non-likers? If not, can you hide all tabs from non-likers?


  • Stripto – I don't know what an App Profile Page is – is that for iPhone/iPad developers? Sorry, I can't help you.

  • […] credibility and build the connections you’ll need later.” Start blogging, create a Facebook Page, Tweet your butt off, and don’t forget to build that e-mail […]

  • Enjoyed reading the informative post. Definitely facebook is a big partof our lives for anyone these days. I can say any business can benefit from facebook apearance keep it up

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  • Superb! I’ve had a fan page for a while and I actually have gotten more ‘likes’ from people I don’t know than my friends. It’s def been slow to grow but this shows me that having a fb page does help me reach out to more people. Sometimes when I don’t have much to post on my actually blog I’ll use my fb page to share info so I at least have some content going out. Also having the page synced to twitter helps a lot in disseminating my posts through all channels with little effort.

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