Facebook is my happy place. I spend A LOT of time there managing Pages for non-profits and small businesses and on the side I help writers trying to figure out how to tame the gorilla. One of the most common questions I get asked is, when should I start building a Facebook platform before my book is released?
The answer: 6 months ago. Maybe a year.
I know – not the answer you were looking for. Gathering a tribe and building a Facebook platform is really hard to do — it’s almost impossible to do quickly without a substantial ad budget or an existing audience. If you’re already a best-selling author then sure – six months is totally reasonable. If you’ve got several thousand dollars to spend on ads it might be possible — if you’re a savvy marketer (or you can afford to hire one).
But most new authors don’t have the resources to kick start a Facebook platform, so they improvise. *Here’s where things go off the rails.*
The author is now panicking because they have this book coming out in a week or a month and they’ve only used Facebook to connect with close friends and family. They don’t do any research on how to grow an audience — because they already know that takes too much time. They decide to sacrifice the long game for initial exposure. The more eyeballs on your content the better, they think.
The panicked author joins a hundred groups for writers and sends out a hundred or more friend requests in a day. They send out mass private messages begging people to buy their book. They take aim at a group for book reviewers: buy-my-book-BAM. Find an author with a larger audience and post on their Page’s wall: buy-my-book-BAM. Take repeated potshots at friends and family: buy-my-book-BAM-BAM-BAM. “Why didn’t that work?” Reload. Aim at a group for book reviewers . . .
But no one’s buying their book (and let’s assume this is a fantastic book).
Now they’ve received negative feedback from Facebook because people are hiding their content or blocking their content entirely (banished to Facebook hinterland), so their organic reach tanks. Or they’re using their Profile and get put in Facebook jail over their friending strategy.
“Why doesn’t this work?” They throw their hands up. I guess I just need to spend some money so Facebook won’t discriminate against me. They spend not a small amount of money on ads, but don’t take the time to learn how the various ad units work or how to target those ads so the ads are about as effective as the book spam.
Clearly this is all Facebook’s fault. They’re out to get authors and small businesses.
That dam won’t hold water and you’ve run out of fingers to plug the holes. It’s not working. *waves white flag*
The time to build a sizeable audience for this book might have passed (or be close at hand), but ebooks never go out of print and you’re only as successful as your next book. Instead of burning bridges you’ll have to rebuild, begin with a view to the long-term career value of social media. Spamming people doesn’t work, you know that, so stop. Relationships sell books – real, authentic, I-actually-care-about-you relationships.
Facebook is the gorilla of social media platforms and is perhaps the slowest social media site to build an audience on. But your Facebook fans will be the most dedicated and enthusiastic fans you have. They want to get to know you, so stop hiding behind your book and be personable, be friendly, and start a conversation. Be human!
What are the most annoying book marketing tactics you’ve seen on Facebook?
Because I love helping authors and writers use Facebook well, I’m giving away a free 2 page critique of either your profile OR page to ONE commentor. Winner announced in the comments 24hours after this post is published.