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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.