Guest post by Dana Lynn Smith
Facebook can be a terrific way to promote your book and yourself, but you may be wasting your time (or worse) if you don't learn how to use it effectively. Below are ten common mistakes authors make on Facebook, along with tips on how to avoid them.
1. Diving in without a plan. Before you start using Facebook (or any other social network), think through your goals first. Are you using it primarily for business? Should you separate your business and personal identities? What are you hoping to accomplish through social networking? How will you measure your success? How can you monetize your efforts? How can you tie Facebook to your other networks? How much time will you budget for promoting your book on Facebook?
2. Setting up a Profile the name of a book or business. There's nothing wrong with using your personal Facebook profile to promote your book, but Facebook's rules require that Profiles be set up in the name of a real person and they limit each person to one profile. If you set up a Profile under a business name, you risk having your account cancelled by Facebook. To create a presence in the name of your book or business, you need to set up a Facebook Fan Page.
3. Not using a professional looking author photo. You may want to use your book cover as your Facebook image sometimes – for example during your book launch. But most of the time I recommend using a photo of yourself. Facebook is a social network and people want to befriend a person, not a book. Don't sabotage yourself by using a fuzzy shot of you with someone's arm draped over your shoulder. On all your networks you should use your standard author publicity photo. See this post for tips on creating an effective author photo.
4. Being too aggressive. We've all seen people who use social networks solely to promote themselves. They post a constant stream of promotional messages and even make purely promotional posts on other people's profiles and pages. Don't forget that Facebook is a social network – you need to develop relationships with people first. If you interact with others, post useful comments, help others out, and participate in the community, most people won't mind if you make some promotional posts. Just be somewhat subtle about it and don't overdo it.
5. Being a wall flower. On the other hand, some authors never mention their book anywhere, even on their own profile! Writing and publishing a book is a major accomplishment—list it prominently in your profile. Mention it in the info box beneath your photo and include a link to your book's website or Amazon page on your information tab. Mention your book promotion activities or articles regularly in your status updates. If you're still working on your book, say so in your profile and talk about your progress in your status updates.
6. Missing out on Groups. Facebook groups are one of the most important ways to promote a book on Facebook. Use the search box at the top of the screen to find groups that cater to your book's topic, genre, or target audience, and then become active in those groups. Don't forget groups geared to authors and publishing. Join in the discussions, comment on wall posts, post your own discussion question, or send a message to the group leader with a suggestion. You can even start your own group. For more tips, see Promote Your Book With Facebook Groups.
7. Failing to use Fan Pages. In addition to setting up a Fan Page for your book or business, it's a good idea to join (or "like") other relevant pages. Some fan pages have discussions or allow fans to make wall posts. Drop by occasionally to make a comment, without appearing too promotional. Check out the fan pages of well-known authors who write books similar to yours.
8. Waiting for friends and fans to find you. Once you become active in Facebook, you will start to receive friend requests and fans. But don't just sit and wait for people to find you. Include a prominent link to your Facebook profile and other pages on your own website, blog and email signature. As you visit other blogs and websites, actively look for the Facebook icon on those sites so you can connect with them on Facebook. Also, look for new friends in the Facebook groups that you join—the people in relevant groups probably share some of your interests.
9. Ignoring your privacy settings. In their efforts to generate revenue, Facebook continues to look for ways to use the personal data on their site. As a result, Facebook has made a number of changes to their privacy policies and default privacy settings over the past few years. Make time today to review your privacy settings. Click on the Account link in the upper right corner of your Facebook screen and select Privacy Settings. Review each of the privacy pages and think about how to best adjust the settings to protect your personal information, while still making information accessible for business purposes. And be careful about revealing too much personal information anywhere online.
10. Spending too much time on Facebook. Social networks like Facebook can be addictive, and it's easy to get sucked in and spend way too much time there. I recommend scheduling a set amount of time each day for networking.
When you plan for success on Facebook and other social networks, they can be an enjoyable and effective way to promote your book and yourself. Have fun with it!