Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How NOT to use Facebook if you're a writer.

Lately, there's been a pretty aggravating trend of writers not using Facebook the way it was intended (as a pretty good social networking site) but as...well...

A $2 whore.

This trend seems to be predominant amongst newbie and self-published writers, although it's not exclusively limited to writers. I've seen plenty of self-help gurus and others doing the same thing.

Lately, I've been SWAMPED with "friend" requests. The problem is, now I'm seeing a lot of these aren't "friend" requests, but people who have scoured friend lists of other Facebook users and decided to add me too. Which poses a problem for me, because while I don't really want to be "friends" with people whose book/product I have no interest in buying, I also don't want to not friend someone who is a genuine reader of MY work.

Also lately, another annoying (downright RUDE) trend has occurred: people who I accept their friend request proceeding to post what is tantamount to an advertisement on MY Facebook wall about their book/product/blog/whatever.

Eh, no. That's the fastest way for me to unfriend and block you (as well as delete the post you put up on my wall).

That's the equivalent of me walking up to your house and slapping a big-assed advertisement on the wall without asking you first, then saying hi, howya doing? and walking away. Would that piss you off?

It should. And I'm not alone.

So being the helpful thing that I am, I decided I was long overdue to post a helpful blog entry about how NOT to use Facebook. I wish this was stuff I knew when I first joined Facebook, because it would have saved me a lot of grief now.

Also, keep in mind that fellow writers are NOT really your target audience, bunky. So going through and prevuing other people's friend lists to friend people isn't helping you. We're too busy pimping our own books to buy yours usually. Especially if you're pimping something like a children's book and I'm an EROTICA writer.


In fact, I just weeded down my friends list, removing people who obviously had "friended" me to up their friend count, not because they were interested in my works. (For example, a ultra-conservative religious right-wing politico probably isn't interested in my Pagan, liberal, GLBT-friendly beliefs and writings.) And yes, I'm guilty of not checking out people's profiles before I accept their friend requests because until recently, I didn't realize this was a problem. Which put me in the position of not knowing if someone is friending me because they're a reader, or because they want to sell me something. And I don't want to risk alienating a reader, but I don't want your fricking spam either.

1) Don't be a whore. Facebook isn't about getting as many friends as you can because--wake-up call--unless Facebook has changed something recently, you are limited to the number of "friends" you can have. Instead, you should...

2) Use a fan page. When posting Facebook links, post THAT link. Keep all your book/product-related posts there to drive people genuinely interested in that to your fan page. Share the fan page link on your profile on a frequent basis if you've already accumulated a large number of "friends" who might or might not be your target audience.

3) Have a private Facebook page ONLY for family/friends and keep it PG to G-rated. I've had friends who've had to unfriend me because they worried my book cover images weren't appropriate for some of their friends/family. I couldn't even friend my own son because I'd set my profile to 18-and over only. For my private profile, I ONLY accept friend requests from relatives/friends I actually know.

4) Don't post just stuff selling your book. Post funnies, quotes, stuff going on. Link your blog to your Facebook fan page so it also posts there.

5) Ditch the apps. Seriously. It's a HUGE complaint I hear from others. Save the apps for your private page. I personally block ALL new apps regardless of who they come from as soon as I see them because they clog my feed. It's also not professional.

6) Do NOT post a link/picture/video to your own stuff on someone else's page without asking them first. That's RUDE. When someone does that to me, I immediately remove the post, unfriend the person, and block them from future contact. I'm not alone there either. Not the best way to make sales, eh?

7) Groups are a pain in the butt IMO. NEVER add someone to your group without permission. PERIOD. If you have a group, especially if it's languishing, try using a fan page instead. Go easy on the event invites and messages. Try to use a separate opt-out newsletter and drive people toward that instead.

8) Don't send me a private message asking me for money or to donate to your project or whatever. I'll delete it and unfriend you. (I had a guy looking for financing for his film project hit me up this morning, which finally drove me over the edge to write this post.)

9) If you have interests you like to post a LOT about, consider a fan page for those and keep your book fan page specific to that so you don't bore the crap out of your readers. Or if you write erotica and non-erotica, set up a fan page for the book/series/pen name/whatever. Nothing says you can't cross-promote as needed, but people reading children's books might not be interested in your erotica. This does not conflict with tip #4, but you need moderation when posting about non-book stuff.

10) Try to stay away from controversy. Yes, it's your page and I'm not saying don't be true to yourself, but remember you're marketing. Try to avoid politics/religion when pimping your books. (I don't always succeed here myself, but I try.)

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