Like many authors, I use a lot of different social media sites to make it as easy as possible for folks to keep up with me. Some of them make it easy for me to stay in touch with others, some seem to just frustrate me. What I want to do today is talk about how I would have used Facebook, if I were signing up for it today.
And I do need to stress today because Facebook changes their policies and what is available so quickly that this will become outdated.
When I originally signed up for it, the only way for fans to see what I was posting was if I friended them back. This meant I had 3000+ friends, which, you know, isn’t entirely realistic. I was getting lots of event invitations from people I didn’t know, and endless requests to play games. So, I changed to an author page, because from the information Facebook provided, this seemed to provide the ability to connect with fans without having the confusing “friend” relationship with people I didn’t actually know.
I did so thinking that I’d be able to engage with fans as readily as I could with my personal profile.
This is not the case.
- When you tag me, I can’t respond.
- My posts don’t appear in the feeds of some people unless I pay Facebook to put them there.
- I can’t tag people when I want to direct attention to them, like with the My Featured Bit posts.
Further, the FAQ on the transfer says that my username would transfer to the new page. It did not, so for a lot of people it looks like I just deleted my page. Meanwhile, it has the unwieldy url http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mary-Robinette-Kowal/103317289808537?ref=hl. I’ve tried picking a new one, but the variations of my name are already taken– by me. But I can’t transfer them. I tried to contact Facebook for help three times and finally gave up.
I now have to maintain two pages. The author page and my personal profile. It’s a hassle with no perceptible benefit.
So if I were a new author starting today, I would create a series of lists for my Facebook profile rather than creating a separate author page. Lists allow you to decide who gets to see content when you post it. If I want to post a rant only for my friends — by which I mean people I actually know — I can designate a subset of my overall Friends list and limit that post to be seen only by them.
For the rest of my posts, I set them to public and have my privacy settings to allow anyone to see the public posts, even if they are not logged into Facebook. It creates a useful divide for the private things, without requiring me to post the same public content on both my personal profile and my Author page. It also means that I don’t have to friend everyone back in order to allow them to see what I’m posting.
More importantly, for me, it allows me to engage with my fans more thoroughly than my Author page does. It is very frustrating to see a fan link to my Author page with a nice review and be unable to reply to them. I can only reply to people who post directly on the page.
So, to review, if I were a new author today I would:
- Not create an author page
- Create lists to give me flexibility about who I share content with
- Not friend people I don’t know but allow them to subscribe
- Set my default post to “public” so that subscribers can see it.
I expect this will change. Again.
Here’s the part that won’t change.
- Your goal with social media is to allow you to connect with your readers and allows them to engage with you.
- You need to do this in a way that allows you to be genuine and retain the amount of privacy that you need to be comfortable.
- It should not take up the time when you should be writing.