What an Author Needs to Know About Facebook

Some authors I know of claim to have little time to tweet or update Facebook. I won’t fault them that – every minute is precious to a writer, especially if deadlines are involved. I find it amusing, though, to check my Facebook feed and discover said author has racked up a thousand virtual cornstalks in FarmVille – the time spent there could have gone toward building a fan page for readers.

Facebook can be a time sink, yes, but it’s also a blessing if you want a free outlet for promotion. As one of the top social networks – check that, one of the most used websites overall – Facebook provides authors with a free platform for talking about their books and driving sales. Now, if you prefer to use your account sparingly, or mainly to stay updated on close friends and family, you can still use the site. The beauty of Facebook is that you can set up a page dedicated to your career and invite readers to join and discuss there. This saves you from bringing people into your private world and cuts down on unnecessarily long news feeds in your dashboard.

What, exactly, does an author (or anybody with something to promote/sell) need to know about Facebook?

1) You need to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every update on Facebook goes to your Twitter feed. If you don’t have time to run two profiles, run one and kill two birds. For every link you share on Facebook, Twitter will send followers to the right destination. (Do not connect in the opposite way of you tweet a lot. Flooding your facebook with your tweets is very annoying for a fan)

2) You need to apply the Static FBML application to your page. This lets you create new tabs within your page that work like miniature web pages. You can set up a small store and accept payments via PayPal or Google Checkout with just a click, or else link book covers to your respective publishers. You can embed videos of book trailers and interviews, and even set up a contact form.

3) You need to become familiar with Facebook Social Plugins. These handy web toys don’t go on your account, but are applied to your main site and blog to drive traffic to your fan page and encourage interaction between the two. The Like Button, in particular, is very popular in that every person who uses it displays your information on their social profile, thereby increasing exposure of your works.

4) You need to be prepared for changes. Facebook is a network that evolves. Recently we have seen changes to structuring in the profile pages, and fan pages aren’t far behind. Already the ability for fans to suggest pages to friends is stripped (only the page administrator can do that now), and very likely more “enhancements” are forthcoming. Even if you just check your page once a day, you can stay apprised of new ways to promote your work.

Creating a page on the social network takes minutes. The benefits you reap from having this base can last much longer.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on [http://www.ciniva.com/]Virginia web design and [http://www.spiderwriters.com/]social media writing.

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