I have done a lot of critiques for writers trying to build platform using Facebook. Facebook is my happy place. I spend a lot of time there. For many years, I was paid to hang out on Facebook. I follow a lot of authors on Facebook and am “friends” with dozens more. I see new and emerging writers making the same mistake over and over and over.
We know that within the Facebook economy that reactions (formerly likes), comments, link clicks, and shares are how Facebook decides how interesting you are. If you’re not interesting, your content is going to be shown to fewer people. That’s more or less how the system works. And we know that Facebook is slow. Even in the early days when there was way less competition for newsfeed space, Facebook was slow to grow an audience organically. So, when you can’t beat ’em you join ’em and authors desperate for engagement start sharing content that gets engagement and stop caring whether it’s the audience for their books or not.
I get that. I do. Posting day after day, really working to find/create interesting content and then get your mother liking your post every day is disheartening. You see bigger authors posting the same sort of content and their audience eats it up. So, you get hungry for reactions and comments and post what people react to. This is a reflection of a two-part problem because it means a lot of your writer friends have liked your page (to help you out) and now they’re the ones responding to your content. So now you feel better, but it’s not helping your platform.
Organic reach is not dead and I’m a big fan of learning how to have good organic reach because it teaches you what your audience wants to hear from you. Working for good organic reach teaches you to adapt, to learn who your audience is and attract the audience you want for your writing. You may struggle to have the 50% or 100% organic reach that was possible even three or four years ago, but good organic reach will help you in the long run.
Some authors will do anything for the engagement. They mistakenly think that all engagement is equal. Facebook cares a lot about engagement and when the algorithm is able to define an audience for you, it shows your content to people who share similar interests to the people already engaging with your content. Here’s where it snowballs. Because what if the content you’re posting is getting great engagement but isn’t attracting the audience who will read your books?
Yeah – do you see where I’m going with this? So, everyone who is posting links for writers, writing memes, and all the rest of it, if the audience for your books aren’t writers then you’re piling rocks on a sinking ship. Sorry to say. Yeah – sure, writers read. Writers support one another. Writers will comment and react and share because we’re a supportive bunch, but what you need are READERS. Readers have friends who read books. Readers leave comments on retail sites. Readers buy extra copies and give them to friends. There are a lot more readers than writers in the world. I’m picking on people posting for writers here, but I’ve seen A LOT of cat photos. Unless you’re writing for cat owners, or some other very close link to the content you’re posting, same deal.
That doesn’t mean you never share a picture of your cat or your garden or that ice cream cone you had after dinner. There has to be room to be personal and share a bit of your life with your readers. But really question what audience you are attracting and if that’s the right audience for your books.
So now what?
You have 300 or 500 or 900 friends/fans and you’ve been posting writing content for a year. Now you have a book and after the initial buzz (yay – you have a book out), your page is back to no repsonses now that you’re trying to get people to buy your book. That’s a problem. A big problem. But it’s not insurmountable. I’m not going to share gimmicks and “insider tips” meant to game the algorithm. Facebook has made a hobby of closing loop holes, it’s a waste of time. Work for good organic reach.
I’m teaching a class this Saturday on Growing An Organic Platform on Facebook. Register this week and I’ll throw in a free critique. Send me your Facebook Page OR Profile URL and I’ll critique your platform as a bonus live on the class so you can ask questions. Can’t make it to the class live, it’ll be recorded so you can listen later or listen again.
What is the biggest struggle you’re having with Facebook right now?