As of the end of July, 2012, Facebook has over 955 Million users across the globe. When you look at it in world numbers, that means that 1 out of 7 people in the world are using Facebook in some way. As a professional, not having a Facebook page is a missed opportunity to promote yourself.
However, there are a few things that you are going to need to know, starting with the difference between a PROFILE and a PAGE.
A PROFILE is your personal Facebook page. You get one the moment you sign up, and lets you connect with other people that you may know (and sometimes don’t), as well as follow pages of professionals and companies that you like. You can use this as your professional site, but there are a lot of drawbacks to it, the biggest being the friends limit.
Face it, you’re going to friend a few people you know. They will come out of the woodwork once you set a page up and they see you around and want to catch up. It’s human nature to interact with others, but having a personal profile and a professional one at the same time in the same place becomes tricky about what you share and what you don’t.
The other issue with using your profile is that there is a friends limit. Facebook will currently only let you have 5000 friends. Once you hit that number, you’ll either need to un-friend people to let more in, or start denying people access.
A PAGE, however, has no limit on the number of fans that can “like” your page to follow your posts. It separates your personal world from your professional one, and allows you to interact with people using your author persona. You only have to get as personal as you want to, and focus what you want to talk about.
The layout for pages is now defaulted into Timeline for about 90% of it’s users, so if you don’t have it on your profile page, you will need to get used to it. You get to choose your “cover” banner, a nice head shot of you for your profile picture, and then fill in your timeline with major events from your career. Make sure you put in all those points where you’ve been published and link to any place where people can read or buy the products. Timeline is a wonderful tool to keep track of your career for the new fans too.
Think of it as a mini-webpage. Get everything you want people to know up there so they can support you and remember why they like you and your work.
You will also want to get a custom URL. The admin panel (we’ll go into this more in a bit) has a link for you to get it. Don’t get too witty, but try and get your own URL to match your name or your pen-name. For instance, my page is facebook.com/AlisonSkyRichards . It will make it easier for you to be able to share your Facebook address with people.
Now, once you have it all up there, you need to add fans. They aren’t going to show up overnight like you’re about to release a new iPhone. You need to find some. The easiest way to do it is share your page with your profile friends and family ask them to “like” your page. Don’t get mad if they don’t, but it will get you a starter set of friends. Your mom will then share it with all her friends, and some of them may like it as well. It’s a ripple effect.
Then, you’ll share your info with friends that you meet at your local writer’s chat, or conventions, or writing workshops… anywhere you go that you meet other writers and readers you have a chance to share the info so that you can keep up with them. And remember to also visit their Facebook pages and “like” their pages with your profile or page.
Yes, you can like other pages while you are using Facebook as your page. There is an option along the top right that allows you to use Facebook as your page, and you can explore Facebook that way. It will help you continue to reach out into the writer’s world and make more connections.
The admin panel along the top will let you see the activity on your page: who has “liked” the page, likes a comment or a post, left comments, and sent you direct messages. You’ll also see how many people have been talking about your page, visited, etc. Again, don’t fret when these numbers are low for your early months – it will get better as you are in your career.
But the only way to really get those stats up is by interaction. You need to post consistently. Interact with people who comment to your posts. Reply to your messages. Like posts and leave comments on posts that show up in the news feed from when you’re using Facebook as the page. You’re only going to get as much out of any social media as you put into it, and you need to make sure you’re doing your part to keep relationships with your fans going.
There’s a lot more advanced work that can be done to continue along your use of Facebook as a marketing tool for a new writer, but we will leave that for another time. This should give you a good starting platform to get yourself set up and working on Facebook. At another time we’ll visit the use of ads, paid posts, and the pros and cons of creating additional pages for projects and fictional characters.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here or hit me up on Facebook!