This post may rattle some cages, but that’s okay. Controversy oft makes for good journalism. Facebook, the hugely successful, social media platform can be an author’s friend or foe. There are many advantages to utilizing Facebook as an author. Mainly, it gives you a free platform to post a fan page, a small Indie press page, even individual pages for your book. Free is great. Electronic exposure even better. But you have to understand Facebook’s limitations. Unlike Twitter, not everything you post is going to be available to all of your friends at the same time. In fact, some of your “friends” may never see your posts at all.
Despite how public or private you make it, Facebook randomly determines which “friends” it thinks should see your material. Example, you may have close to 500 friends or fans, but not all of your posts will populate their newsfeeds. You can customize your newsfeeds, in order that your material is seen frequently by key people posted, but many folks on facebook do not take the time to choose these preferences. The Harvard Business Review posted an interesting article on this fact.
Another drawback of Facebook is legitimacy. Anyone can post almost anything on Facebook. It’s validity, however, may not be guaranteed. Prime example recently? The Morgan Freeman death hoax. Many received notice via Facebook newsfeeds that Morgan Freeman had died of an abdominal aortic anuerysm on Sept 6th. Within minutes, like rampant wildfire, Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts. There even was a RIP Morgan Freeman page on which thousands posted memorials, retweeted, and reposted on Facebook. Interestingly enough, despite Morgan Freeman’s publicists’ staunch and very public denials that he was alive and well, this rumor persisted for more than seven days! Yet, no major news outlet was reporting the story.
Point? Many people rely on Facebook as their official report of news. They don’t bother to check out their sources before reposting like wildfire on the gossip grapevine. Reliable news sources simply were not verified. Folks were just keen to “share” the juicy gossip. Thus, the danger of facebook. Not one of these people who tweeted and fb’d bothered to check a real news source prior to hitting “share” or “like.” The problem with that? Rampant gossip without validation of fact. Wendy Bauder, a columnist for the Independent Voice warns that frivolous facebookers will end up eating a lot of crow.
How does that harm you as an author? Another case in point, the Lend Ink debacle. Lend Ink was a legitimate lending site. But when a few fearful and uninformed facebookers grabbed hold accusing them of piracy of their ebooks, Lend Ink was dismanted within days. Many were guilty of not checking their facts. As backfire, bloggers launched an counter assault. Many authors as a result, negative reviews that cannot ever be removed were posted on author’s Amazon and Goodreads pages.
The same wildfire inflation occurs with mutual author “like” pages. Authors go down a list and randomly “like” everyone’s Amazon, Facebook, and website pages. As an author, you are working to establish your brand. By randomly “liking” each book posted on these pages, you are watering down your brand and word. Be careful!! Only “like” books which you are sure are well written. Also, only “like” books which are in line with your brand. A woman’s Christian fiction writer certainly wouldn’t want to be “liking” a sadistic slasher novel. You get the idea.
The concern with all of this? Superficiality. Authors should indeed support authors. As small Indie press authors, you could be at risk to water down the Indie press brand. Only back quality! But remember, first and foremost, your buying public are readers.
Make sure you are spending your time wisely on Facebook, doing what you can to research and find means to reach and grab the fleeting attention of your readers. Book clubs, genre specific events. Unusual places to do book signings. That is where your time would be well spent. In the end, that genuine word of mouth pathway will make all the difference in the success of marketing your book.