Building Your Facebook Community: A Crash Course for Authors

After Facebook’s latest round of algorithm changes in December 2013, a lot of page owners—including me—saw a significant drop in the number of people seeing their posts (up to 88 percent, according to Business Insider). Many people cried “foul” on this, seeing it as Facebook’s attempt to make them pay to promote their posts and simply giving up on their pages altogether.

It’s entirely possible that Facebook is looking to generate income from what has previously been free advertising for millions of pages. Frankly, having taken advantage of said free advertising for the last three years myself, I can’t fault them for that. What I can do—and have done—is look upon these changes as a new challenge…and I can take advantage of the advice being given by social media gurus who say it’s still possible to have a successful Facebook page without paying. How? By paying a little more attention to how I’m posting.

From an author’s marketing perspective, the key to a successful Facebook page is reach (the number of people who are seeing your posts, and therefore your name, in their news feeds). The more they see you, the better they’ll remember you—and your books. And the key to reach? Engagement. The more people who interact with your posts (likes, comments, shares), the more people to whom Facebook will show that post (and possibly future ones).

If this sounds complicated, rest assured it’s not, because it’s surprisingly easy to tweak posts for better engagement. Especially when you have a handy list of tips to help get you started 😉 :

  1. Learn to use Insights: At the top of your admin panel when you open your page, you’ll find a bar with Edit Page, Build Audience, See Insights, and Help. If you click on See Insights, you’ll get a whole page of data. The most useful bits (to me) are Post Reach, Engagement, and (below those) Your 5 Most Recent Posts.  Click on these for more charts and graphs that clearly show exactly how many people are seeing you and engaging with your stories—and which of your stories are getting the greatest engagement. Once you’re familiar with your insights, experiment. Try posting at different times of the day to see when you’re reaching the greatest number of fans, and to keep an eye on what kind of posts are getting the best engagement.
  2. Aim for variety: Monotony is boring, and boring means you’ll lose engagement and probably likes. Some ideas for posts you can use include:
    • Photos and other graphics – we are visual creatures by nature, and pictures draw attention.
    • Share great quotes—better yet, turn them into graphics, which are more likely to be shared. There are two fabulous free apps you can use for this: Canva and Picmonkey.
    • Include humor—everyone likes a giggle, and humorous posts tend to get more likes.
    • Ask a question—people love to answer questions. Just remember to keep it short! Use a fill-in-the-blank (My favourite childhood book was __________.) or a multiple-choice (Do you prefer (a) e-readers, (b) real books, or (c) have no preference?) format . If you have a question that requires a more complete answer, use who, what, where, and when, but avoid asking why (according to Hubspot, why questions generate the lowest number of likes/comments).
    • Share personal stories and insights—remember your readers are following you on Facebook because they want to get to know the person behind the books. Some of my most popular posts have been photos of my kitten and stories about my food-preserving adventures.
  3. Use a call to action: People are more inclined to respond to a direct request—words such as “click like if you agree” “thumbs up if you’ve done this!” or “Share if you know someone who could use this”. Just be careful not to overuse this—i.e. it shouldn’t be a part of every post you make (remember the variety rule!).
  4. Use the scheduling feature: Facebook now allows you to schedule your posts (if you haven’t noticed it yet, it’s the little clock symbol in the bottom left-hand corner of the status box when you’re posting). Once you know when your fans are more likely to see your posts (via your Insights), you can schedule the posts for those times.
  5. Ask for feedback/help from fans: People love to feel valued, and they love to have a voice—and they can be a huge help. When I was having my website redone, I struggled mightily with my tagline. I turned to my Facebook community for suggestions, narrowed it down to a couple of ideas, ran a vote, and “Kick-Ass Supernatural & Romantic Fiction” was born.
  6. Run a contest/giveaway: If you don’t already know, Facebook rules regarding contests have changed. Now you can run simple timeline contests that ask fans to “Like or comment on this post for your chance to win”. Note that you can encourage the sharing of a post, but you cannot require it. You must also include an acknowledgement somewhere in your text that “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.” 
  7. RESPOND to comments: I cannot emphasize this enough—building any online community is about having conversations, and Facebook is no different. If your fans are taking the time to leave a comment on one of your posts, you must make the time to respond! If you’re pressed for time, at least like their comment so they know you’ve seen it.
  8. Include emoticons: Those little smiley faces can increase your likes on a post by up to 57 percent, and your comments and shares by 33 percent (Hubspot). 🙂
  9. Be consistent: Facebook will bury you if you’re only posting occasionally. Aim for 3-5 posts a day, every day, but don’t clump them all together. People are inclined to unlike pages that clog their feeds with multiple posts. The average lifespan of a Facebook post is 3 hours, so it’s best to wait that long between posting. This is where the scheduling feature I mentioned above can really help.

This has been a lot of information, I know, but believe it or not, I’ve tried to keep it concise! 😉 I hope you found some useful tips to try–and that you’ll let me know how they work out for you. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments…and if you’re doing something on your Facebook page that you don’t see here, please share! 🙂

P.S. If you missed last week’s Facebook page vs. profile debate, you can find it here.

P.P.S. Oh yes, and if you’d like to see these ideas in action, you can like me on Facebook. 🙂


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4 responses to “Building Your Facebook Community: A Crash Course for Authors”

  1. Sandy Williams Avatar

    Does deleting the link from the text box, but leaving it as the attachment thingy not mess with a posts reach? I’ve seen just about everyone lately start to put the link in the first comment because link posts get so few views. It seems like it would still get fewer views if you just delete it from the text, but maybe not? I’d love to be able to keep the attachment link thingy there.

    1. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      Hi, Sandy — Facebook itself recommends doing the linky thing I describe, Sandy. You can read their recommendations at https://newsroom.fb.com/News/787/News-Feed-FYI-What-Happens-When-You-See-More-Updates-from-Friends. Hope that helps! 🙂

    2. Linda Avatar
      Linda

      Sandy, I just came across this article from Hubspot that addresses your question exactly…and debunks it as a myth. You can check it out here: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/facebook-marketing-tips-tricks-list. 🙂

      1. Sandy Williams Avatar

        Ooh, this second link is perfect. I’d clicked over to the first one yesterday but didn’t think it explained the exact problem. I’m so, so glad I don’t have to worry about putting links in the comment! I’ve done it a few times, and it’s annoyed me every time, so I have to assume it probably annoys the readers, too.

        Thanks for the help! I love your Monday social media posts. 🙂

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