Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Dilemma of Authors on Facebook

It's a question that comes up all the time on AgentQuery Connect. How (if at all) should authors use Facebook?

After being heavily involved in a couple of online writers' communities, I ended up with a lot of writer-friends on Facebook. Some are aspiring, some are self-published, some work with (or have founded their own) small presses, some are agented, and some are traditionally published.

I admit, I've been cutting back on my Facebook use because it's gotten overwhelming. Book release parties, announcements for signings, groups for these authors, groups for those authors ... and that's in addition to the invites, groups, and requests to play some game or another that I get from non-writing friends.

Slightly overwhelming, especially when I want to keep my Facebook check-in time brief.

I tried just ignoring things, focusing on what I prioritized, but darn if Facebook doesn't make notifications obnoxious. If I get added to a group, I get a notification every time someone (or a friend, at least) posts in that group. If I get invited to an event, I get a notification when a friend posts in that event, even before I've gone in to say Join, Maybe, or Decline.

So, I say no. Not to everything, but to a lot of things.

Turns out for some of these things (Events, at least), the person in charge gets notified when I decline. Enter the guilt.

Cluttering feeds doesn't sell books. Neither do guilt trips (at least not for me). How, then, does one effectively use Facebook as an author?

I'll throw a few ideas out there, all of them theoretical from my perspective, and all of them just my opinion. I'm sure others will disagree.

Use a separate page. Either an Author Page or a Book Page for a specific book/series. Whatever you like. Let us know the page is there (and link to it conveniently on your blog/website), and then use that page for posting promotional information.

Don't double-dip. This might just be me. If so, no problem. I'll chalk it up to another of my picky quirks. But once you have that separate page, don't simul-post the same information to both it and your personal account. Sure, some people will only see one or the other, but those of your friends who also Liked your page? Shows up twice back-to-back.

Be judicious in your use of Events and Groups. I'm fine with the occasional event invitation. When Events are created for every little thing, though, it crosses into the land of annoyance. I've never set up an Event, but I assume it's possible to not invite ALL your Facebook friends. Choose invitees mindfully. Groups are especially tricky since Facebook allows you to add friends to groups without really asking them.
Think before you add—Does this person really fit the parameters of this group?

Don't take it personally. If a friend declines an invitation or leaves a group you added them to, don't assume it means they hate you, or are jerky poo-heads. Everyone has their own way of using Facebook, and maybe your event or group doesn't fit in their model. And remember that it's much more likely to reflect an annoyance with Facebook and its settings than you personally.

Do you have any tips or tricks for making Facebook use easier? Pet peeves of your own that you've seen done by writers? What ways do you see Facebook working for authors?


Richard said...

I've stop using FB for promoting my writing. I can't seem to get the hang of it, and FB keeps changing the rules. It's just too much of a hassel. I now use it primarily for social news, keeping up with family, and so forth, not for self-promotion. My blog posts show up on my page. If people are interested that aspect, they can visit my blog.

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noelle Pierce said...

I feel the same way about those pesky notifications. Luckily, I'm on my computer most of the day, so I can decline or get out of groups fairly quickly, before the emails line up. I've also posted a few PSA status messages begging people to stop adding me to groups without my permission, regardless whether I fit the parameters or not. It seems to have helped. A bit.

The only problem I see with the double-dipping/using a Page is the new policies that are geared toward making a person pay so their followers will see their messages. For example, I started a new page the other day for my designs, and posted a few photos on it (so I wouldn't clutter up my main profile feed)...and out of four or five photos, I saw NONE in my main feed. Makes me wonder if any of my followers saw any of them, either. For the important things, I've double-dipped, but I try not to do that too much.

Oh, and the events! I can't tell you how many times I've been invited to a "Live Booksigning" England. Um...I hope like hell they don't mind if I decline, since I'm not crossing the pond for a couple of hours. :D

Jean Oram said...

Facebook is a place to connect with readers, not drive them away. Therefore, I like your idea of a separate page for each book. I was thinking about this the other night and felt like I was missing a piece--and here it is! Thanks.