One of the most common questions authors and writers trying to use Facebook to connect with readers and their tribe is: What Do I Post?
When a reader takes the time to search out an author on Facebook, when they Like your page or request to be your friend – what value are they looking for? Have you ever asked yourself this? If you haven’t got an answer to this, you’ve sabotaged yourself before even beginning. Readers don’t understand the creative process. They fall in love with our voice, our wit, our insights, our quirky way of seeing things, the worlds our imaginations create, the questions we ask. They beg for more from the characters they love and the worlds they want to jump into.
Readers are looking for:
- Behind-the-scenes stuff (upcoming teasers, what inspired you to write, what real life stuff did you base your stories on, vacation photos)
- Feedback – readers want to the opportunity to have input and give feedback.
- Rewards – they’re looking for promo codes and coupons, notice of sales, invitations to appearances and book signings, etc.
- Connection – readers want to feel like they know you, that you have something in common. They see writers as these mysterious creatives and celebrities even, and they want to get to know you.
They Want To See Oz
As a kid watching The Wizard of Oz, all I wanted was to see behind that curtain. Who was the real Oz? Fans are tired of the marketing smoke and mirrors, buy-my-book, look-at me-bravado (and so is Facebook). Readers want to connect with authors, not brands, which is why readers may be more likely to request to be your friend than like your fan page if given the choice.
You’re a freaking wizard and that’s more awesome than bacon.
Readers are dying for a peek behind the proverbial curtain into the writer’s world and the writer’s mind. This could be a picture of you in your office or on location doing research. A sneak peek of upcoming work, prequels, side stories of minor characters, epilogues, etc. They want to know about upcoming releases, deals/coupons/sales, book signings, and what you’re working on right now.
Don’t create an online persona of this perfect life. No one can live up to that, especially you. Your life is never as boring as you believe it is. Even if you are intensely private, there are always aspects of your personal life you can share. The more honest you are, the more readers can identify with you.
What Not To Post
Photos and videos always do better organically on Facebook, because typically people find that kind of content more interesting. Your goal is to be interesting — remarkable if you like that word better. Here are a list of things not to post:
- Anything that would make someone go TMI! You want to share your toddler’s success at something, awesome – but I’m not interested in seeing their first successful trip to the potty. Overly amorous posts about your significant other – not cool. Anything that would be considered abusive, pornographic, or generally in bad taste.
- Anything ordinary that you don’t give me a reason to care about. I don’t care what you had for breakfast – unless something remarkable happened while you were eating it, you were eating with someone remarkable, you were in a remarkable place, or it inspired you to write something remarkable. What makes it remarkable? Your comment/editorial on the photo.
- Anything divisive. Unless you’re writing for a religious audience, avoid talking about religion in a way that would cause divisiveness. There’s tolerance for saying “I went to church” but not so much “everyone who doesn’t go to church 3x / week should wear a shirt of shame”. Same goes for politics. Unless that’s your brand – you write spy/political thrillers for instance. If readers perceive that you are judging or condemning someone else, some will leave. People can tolerate a different opinion if its stated respectfully and you remain open to a dialogue about differing viewpoints. Some authors do this really well, others just alienate readers doing it. Know your strengths.
- Beg people to buy your book. Authors get sneaky about this, but if the point of your post is to buy something, reconsider. Announce a book release. Share a blog post. Point out a discount offered by an online retailer. All OK, but posting bare links to your book on Amazon every day, or in as many book promo groups as you can find – totally pointless.
What Should You Post?
- What made you smile today (pretty sunset on my evening walk)? What made you shake your fist at the sky today (wind blew my kids’ trampoline across the yard and it’s totalled)?
- Ask questions that people can share their opinions about, but those opinions won’t offend anyone. And stay for the conversation. They’re sharing their answer because they want to chat. Work up to more complex questions so that you can build relationships with your most avid readers.
- Bought new boots because they made me think of this badass character in book X. (pic of boots)
- Links to value-add blog posts
- Upcoming events, releases, promos, new newsletters, etc.
- Cover reveals – maybe ask your readers to pick the best cover and offer a choice of 4
- Interesting people/authors you meet or connect with (with pics)
- Share a video or pic of something remarkable that made you pause in your day (saw a deer on my walk, attended a workshop on poisonous flowers – “hehehe, I love doing research”)
- What story/character are you working on today? Did they do something nefarious, get themselves into a fix? Don’t reveal spoilers but post fun teasers.
- Ask for help naming a new character.
- Share research you’re working on. (Location shots?)
- Share who inspired a character in your book (if inspiring that character is a positive thing – maybe you read a newspaper article and that inspired you to create that character).
- Was there a news story that sparked your imagination or is related to a topic/event in your book?
- Show pics of your work space. Are you working early in the morning? Testing out all the Tim Horton’s locations in your city?
- What inspires/challenges you to be a better person? (quotes, feel-good news stories, wise sayings)
- Ear worms (music you can’t get out of your head) or writing soundtracks for a particular scene, character, or book.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but a starting point to inspire you to create content that would appeal to your audience.
Underpin everything you post with genuine respect and kindness. You want readers to feel heard and that they are appreciated. I want to be approachable and the kind of person they wouldn’t mind bumping into in real life. People will buy books because the premise or genre interests them. They encourage all their friends to buy your books because they like your writing and they like YOU.
This post is almost entirely focused on fiction writers, but non-fiction writers have it a little easier because they can post information and share teachings about their topic of expertise.
Be consistent, post interesting content, show up and join conversations, and remember you’re a real human being and act accordingly.
On July 22, 2017, I am teaching a workshop on growing a platform organically on Facebook. If you can’t connect with your readers organically, your ads will never be effective. Keep track of my upcoming classes here.SIGN UP HERE
What things have you see writers/authors post on Facebook that made you cringe, or take action to never see their content again?