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.