9 Reasons Why Authors Should Use Facebook Pages

13/09/11 7:00 AM

I’m trying to keep this here blog for readers, but occasionally I direct some posts to my fellow scribes, like this one.

Recently, I’ve seen some well-intentioned, but not-the-best-advice-in-reality about whether authors should create a fan page on Facebook or continue to use their personal profile to connect with fans.

I feel I’m qualified to address this question because of my day job as a marketing copywriter (for nine years and counting — I’ve managed fan pages for clients and have done tons of reading on the subject). So I’m speaking with my marketing AND writing hat on.

Here are 9 reasons why you should set up a Facebook page instead of using your personal profile to engage with fans.

  1. It’s against Facebook’s terms of service to use your personal account for business. If you’re an author selling books, you’re a business, right? I don’t care if you spend most of your time talking with fans about reading and writing (as you should — no one wants to be sold to 100 percent of the time), but the bottom line is you’re a writer trying to make a buck off of her writing. Do I know of anyone who’s been shut down because of this? Nope. But it’s not worth chancing. Here’s further reading, which includes links to FB’s terms of service.
  2. Right now, your personal profile can accept only 5000 friends. That’s awfully limiting if you’re an author, unless, of course, you have low expectations and don’t expect to have more than 5000 fans — ever. I know some radio disc jockeys in Boston who’ve made the same mistake. They used their personal profile to interact with listeners and now they’re reaching the upper limits. M.E.S.S.Y.
  3. Your fans are NOT your friends. And not all friends are fans. And you know what? That’s okay. Keep ’em separate because they’re meant to be separate. Will you have cross-over? Yes, of course, most likely in the form of some friends and family who are also fans of your writing. But let them make the decision to fan your page. As for fans who become friends, well, sure…it might happen. But I doubt it will be as many as you think. You should control the people you allow into your friend/family world, and that’s exactly what happens when you keep your personal profile strictly personal.
  4. Facebook pages have better tools for measuring important things like “LIKES,” where your fans are coming from, who the most engaged fans are, and much much more, which helps you create a much better experience for your fan base.
  5. Facebook advertising. You can’t advertise with a personal page. Facebook ads are an easy way to boost your fan base, which deconstructs another “argument” for authors using their personal profiles: if you’re new or unknown, getting that all important critical mass is important, of course. So advertise…I grew my fan base from 100 family and friends to over 1800 people who fanned me because of ads and because they liked what I had to say on my welcome page. And yes, some of these fans became readers. FB ads are extremely targeted and economical. You set the daily rate.
  6. Privacy. Your fans don’t need to see pictures of your kids in the tub or know when you’re going on vacation. Likewise, your fans deserve the same right to privacy. Facebook pages respect both sides. (Besides, do you really want a cluttered newsfeed in your personal profile with all the goings-on in your fans’ lives? I’m thinking no.) When your personal page becomes a place where you have friends, family, and fans, you’ll struggle with what you should and shouldn’t say (yes, even with the filters and privacy controls…you’ll always wonder if it’s working, right?). By keeping these two audiences separate (because they ARE separate), you can talk to your fans in the way they expect (ditto with family and friends).
  7. Facebook pages have more capabilities and plug-ins to make the experience even better for your fans — from review pages, to custom landing pages, to the ability to run legitimate promotions (which you MUST do through apps according to FB’s promotional guidelines, and these apps, by the way, only work with business pages, not personal profiles), Facebook pages help you do all that…plus more.
  8. No hurt feelings. A well-known author I like uses his personal profile as his fan page. I friended him last fall, and my request was never accepted (and yes, the request went through — I checked). Talk about feeling like you don’t matter as a reader and fan! When you use your personal profile as your fan page, you’re asking people to take a leap of faith by sending a friend request (and making them go through an extra step to boot): what if the author doesn’t accept my request? Consider the readers out there who will think twice before sending a request. And now let’s consider your REAL family and friends. You know that family member you have who thinks reading the box scores qualifies as reading? He doesn’t care about your book or talking about reading or hearing about writing. He might care about YOU, which is why he doesn’t unfriend you, but there’s a good chance he glosses over all of your status updates or — worse — hides you. Don’t do this. Let your friends and family decide if they want to fan your page or not (and try not to take it personally when they don’t all flock to your page).
  9. If you stick with your personal profile, at some point I can pretty much guarantee you will want to separate them out. Good luck. It’s a headache and a mess waiting to happen.

So what if you have been using your personal profile, but this post has convinced you to separate? Here’s what to do:

  • Set up your Facebook page.
  • Do a status update on your personal profile WITH A LINK to your FB page and tell people that you’ve decided to start an official author page because it will be better for fans and because using your personal profile is against FB’s terms and you want to abide by those so you don’t get shut down. Ask people to fan the page and to unfriend your profile (give them control to start). Let them know you’ll be pruning the list yourself by the end of the month.
  • Do this status update a couple of times: try different days of the week and different times of day (I recommend Saturday morning, Sunday night, and then early one weekday morning, like a Wednesday).
  • At the end of the month, go through your current “friends list” and message anyone who isn’t related to you or a true friend. In this message, let people know that you have an author page (include the link!) and ask them to like it. Then tell them that you’ll be unfriending them in order to keep your personal profile strictly for family and to abide by FB’s rules (this will help take the sting out of it).

You will lose some fans. Don’t stress about it, because what you’ve done will be ten million times better in the long run for your fans, your family/friends, and for you.

Comments or questions? Leave ’em below! I’m happy to help.

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Posted by Robyn | in Social Media | 20 Comments »

20 Comments on “9 Reasons Why Authors Should Use Facebook Pages”

  1. Ghenet Myrthil Says:

    This is really great advice. I definitely want to create a dedicated facebook fan page for myself at some point in the near future. All of your reasons make a lot of sense!

  2. Robyn Says:

    @Ghenet — I’m glad you found it helpful…when you’re ready to launch your page, I’d be happy to answer any questions etc. 🙂

  3. SS Bazinet Says:

    Many thanks, Robyn! Just the advice I need. I’ve just created a Facebook page, and your help was great. Happy 2012! May it be abundant and filled with fun 🙂 Going to follow you on Twitter!

  4. Robyn Says:

    Thanks, SS – glad you found it helpful. Since I wrote this, some stuff has changed, namely that people with personal profiles can enable the “subscriber” function — this helps a little (in terms of the upper-end limit issue and how to share stuff issue). Still, I recommend separate pages for authors! 🙂

  5. Katie Davis Says:

    I have been wanting to move everyone over to my fan page and have tried different things to no success. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your last suggestion on how to do this! Thank you so much, Robyn! However, other author friends have warned that the connection and interactions are lost when you only communicate to your writing fans through a fan page. What do you think about that? It’s all about community, so I worry about losing that. I’d love to know your thoughts on that. Thanks.

  6. Robyn Says:

    @Katie — thanks for your comment! And I apologize for the delay in approving this comment…it got mixed in with the spam for Viagra and shoes. 🙂

    So…when I wrote this post, it was before FB allowed people to subscribe to people’s personal profiles. Here’s another option that speaks to your friends’ concerns: enable the subscribe function, if you haven’t already. Create lists within your personal profile and capture all the family and friends into one list (or a couple of lists). For truly personal updates, simply broadcast them to these lists. For more general updates, including stuff about your author life, you can make those comments public. Keep encouraging people to switch over to your author FB page in the meantime.

    I love having a separate author page on FB, and I don’t feel the sense of community is lost. The key is to keep it about the community, which is why I try to keep promotional posts to a minimum (although if you look at my page right now, you’ll see if I’ve been heavily promoting a contest I’m a finalist in…because it’s all about the public vote). Normally, I try to keep the conversation about reading and books in general with the occasional shout out about my own stuff. So far, for me, this has worked, and I like the community feel on the page.

    Good luck, and feel free to ask more questions. 🙂

  7. Katie Davis Says:

    Robyn, there was no delay! I left that post today. And I definitely have NOTHING to do with Via***! I think you are right. I’m very nervous about this because I have over 1500 friends and under 300 Likers. 😎 But as you suggest, I can do it slowly but surely.

    Thanks so much for your advice! And good luck with the contest!

  8. Katie Davis Says:

    Oh, and I’m going to refer to this fab page every time I post my migration notice. I have lots of writer followers so hopefully I can throw some public appreciation your way as a token of my thanks!

  9. Robyn Says:

    Thanks, Katie! Wishing you much luck. (Feel free to leave your author page URL here or message me — I just did a search on FB and found your personal profile; I’d love to LIKE your author page.) Great website by the way (I LOVE your bio page — especially the fake bio)! 🙂

  10. Katie Davis Says:

    Thanks so much! Her eyou go:

    http://www.facebook.com/katiedavisburps

  11. Robyn Says:

    Awesome! Just LIKED. 🙂

  12. Katie Davis Says:

    Thanks! But holy cow, this has opened up a floodgate on my personal profile! I hope you’ll come look because people are saying they want to do this too, but…!!

  13. Robyn Says:

    I’d be happy to respond to some of these concerns, specifically about EdgeRank, which is FB’s algorithm for what brand pages get shown in people’s newsfeeds. This is gonna sound funny, but in order for me to comment, we need to friend one another. 🙂 Otherwise, send people here, and I can address people’s concerns here.

    The short of it: Melissa IS correct. Only approximately 17 percent of fans will have your status update show up in their newsfeeds. This is because of FB’s algorithm called EdgeRank. The more people who engage with your page (by commenting and liking updates), the more FB will increase that a page’s EdgeRank score, which means your update will show up in more newsfeeds. I know, I know — it doesn’t seem fair, especially if you use ads to attract new fans. But from a regular FB user perspective, it DOES make sense. It also rewards pages that put up engaging content. Here are some links to share:

    http://hubze.com/2012/04/what-the-heck-is-edgerank-2/

    And another: http://socialmediatoday.com/george-guildford/383842/why-improving-your-edgerank-score-facebook-now-more-important-ever

    And another: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/3009-Understanding-EdgeRank-Facebook-s-Quality-Score-for-Wall-Posts

    Even despite this, I prefer having a fan page. It’s still incredibly personal — I take time to respond to fans, and fans can now message you directly through your page. Also, the analytics are excellent, as are the fun ways you can customize things. And I love FB advertising, too.

    But I know some folks who prefer using their personal profiles – especially since they can allow people to subscribe.

  14. Elizabeth Says:

    I would so love to do this – but there’s one hiccup. Our FB numbers have become part of our potential marketing platform to publishers. (I had to include them in a recent proposal.) So, losing people while trying to shift over could be detrimental. 🙁

  15. Robyn Says:

    @Elizabeth — I hear you, and it makes sense to hold off in your case. Good luck — fingers crossed you land a publishing deal soon! 🙂

  16. Lisze Bechtold Says:

    So that’s why people “like” every blessed little thing. I’m very selective and just “like” posts that make me laugh out loud or I really truly like. Thanks for your helpful info. I have a fan page, but haven’t put anything on it yet because 15 people have to like it before it goes live. I suppose I have to ask my friends to do so. Slowly figuring this all out. You’ve been a big help.

  17. Becca Mills Says:

    Robyn, I don’t know if you’re still responding to comments on this excellent (thank you!!!) post, but if so, I have a question and would really appreciate your advice:

    I’ve set up a new Fb page for my pen name without also setting up a personal account for the pen name. The page is admin’ed through my real-name personal account, which has been up on Fb for ages. I thought this would be a good way to keep fans concentrated in one place (the page) instead of spread out over a page and a personal account. But I find I can’t really *do* anything on Fb as my pen name with just the page. I can respond to activity on the page, but that’s it — I can’t like other pages or put comments on them. Do I need a personal account for the pen name as well? If so, is there a way to keep the account unfindable, so that folks searching Fb for my pen name only find the page?

    Any advice would be most appreciated!

  18. Robyn Says:

    @Becca — thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂 OK, if I’m reading your question right, it sounds like you want to be able to like other pages and leave comments on the past as your pen name page, right?

    You *should* be able to — I’m an admin for a half dozen or so pages in my “day job” as a marketing copywriter, and I can leave comments on other business pages as my clients’ business page (hope that makes sense).

    When you’re logged in to FB, look at the upper right-hand corner — you should see a little down arrow next to “home.” Click on it, and you’ll see it say, “Use Facebook as…” and then it *should* list the pages you’re an admin for, including your pen name fan page, your personal account, and any other pages you’re an admin for. Click on your pen name page. Now, go to a business page of some sort, like Target or Macy’s and like the page. Comment on one of the status updates, and you should see that you’re commenting as your pen name page (the icon should reflect your profile image for your pen name page). I believe most (if not all) business pages allow you to comment even if you’re not a fan of the page, so you wouldn’t even have to like the page in order to leave a comment.

    Hope this helps (hope I actually answered your question!). Feel free to email me directly if you need further help! 🙂

  19. Becca Mills Says:

    I get it, Robyn … thank you so much! 🙂

  20. Robyn Says:

    Great! Glad I could help. 🙂