The longer Indie authors are on Facebook, the larger their friend count grows. This is a good thing for a writer, don’t get me wrong, but it comes with certain risks. There are a lot of authors using their Profiles to promote their writing and they’re playing Facebook Roulette. Not because they must have a Page (see this post if you’re trying to decide which one is best for your platform), but because the content is too promotional or they’re breaking rules.
Then they come to me and complain that Facebook is being a big meanie because they’ve been shut down. Well, let’s have a look at the rules and then at how some Indies are spinning the barrel every time they post content to their Profile.
Facebook has published Terms of Service (TOS) and shockingly they actually enforce these rules <sarcasm> — eventually. I’ve only quoted 4 points here, but know that infringing on any of the TOS is grounds to have your Profile shut down without opportunity for appeal.
- You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
- You will not create more than one personal account.
- If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
- You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
How are Indies playing roulette?
How many writers use a Facebook Profile under a pseudonym (aka false information)? I understand there are a lot of really valid reasons to use a pen name or pseudonym, but see the first point above? Yeah – since it’s not your ‘legal’ name, Facebook could shut you down for having a Profile in a pseudonym’s name. This includes Profiles for your characters, or for the pet cat who helps you write your blog (sorry cat writers).
How Many Profiles Do You Have?
Which leads me directly to the second point. Using a pen name on your Profile is somewhat risky, but the problem is when you have more than one Profile. Many writers have a Profile for their pen name and one for their real name often because they want to keep their real life completely separate from their writing life, blah blah blah. Use friend lists or get a Page for the pen name.
**Remember – Facebook is a social platform intended to help people connect with and communicate with other people. They do allow businesses to have a presence and they do allow businesses to buy ads — but they have a vested interest in keeping Facebook relevant to regular people who want to connect with friends and acquaintances. When you begin to treat your Profile like a Page, you’re playing roulette and eventually you’re going to get caught.
They Shut You Down And You Did What?!
How many Indies have their Profile shut down and immediately open a new one with a different email and continue as they did before? *face palm* What was the definition of insanity again… What got you shut down the first time will catch up to you on the new Profile.
Writers count on Facebook being too big to find the little fish breaking the rules. Many writers get away with this. The problem is that most writers don’t want to remain little fish – they want to grow their audience. The bigger your Friend counts gets, the more scrutiny you’ll be under and then BAM! Facebook shuts down your Profile and you’re mad because you were just doing what you’ve always done. Except you’ve been breaking the rules all along, you just finally got caught.
See how this doesn’t work?
You will not use your Profile for commercial gain.
What does that mean exactly? You have to think in terms of value. Posting a link to your blog doesn’t offer any commercial gain. People post links to all kinds of things. Posting about a book bundle you’re selling on Amazon is commercial gain. Announcing you have a new book out and posting a pic of the cover is OK. Reminding people twice a week or more that you’re book is perma free on Kindle is commercial gain. Posting the same content over and over on your Profile (usually a cover pic and book blurb), and on other’s Profiles, and repeatedly in every group you join until you get kicked out is commercial gain (regardless of how ineffective the tactic actually is).
While I have no proof of this, I suspect that Profiles where people include “Author” in the Profile name is probably a huge tip off to Facebook that you’re abusing their TOS.
If you want to post promotional content, start a Page. Even if you don’t want to maintain or grow the audience on a Page it will give you access to run ads. Facebook ads are some of the best on the web. Create a page on your website for your new book, post a bit of code on the backend of your website or that page and let Facebook track who visits and then target those people with ads. (Check out this post by Jon Loomer on creating Website Custom Audiences WCA)
Your Profile must primarily be used to connect with people — not tell people you’re a writer, let people know you’ve written a book, tell people what others thought of that book, promote book bundles or other promotions about your books (or a friend’s books)…I can go on. Organic reach is not dead on Pages, but the days of reaching every single fan on your Page for free are not just gone, they never existed.
If you’re using your Profile to build platform on Facebook, how much promotional content do you allow yourself to post?
I’m teaching a class on Using Your Facebook Profile To Build Platform on June 3rd at 7PM Toronto time. It’s $35. This live webinar will be recorded in case you can’t make that time, and each participant receives a copy of my ebook 31 Days To a Facebook Platform. Register here.
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