Facebook as a Marketing Tool

I’m going to be upfront here and let my readers know that I am not a fan of Facebook. I set up a FB account a couple of years ago to keep up with photos of my new baby granddaughter. I wasn’t looking to “connect” with anyone or network with anybody. I wasn’t looking to update my status or comment on everyone else’s lives. I wasn’t interested in collecting “friends” and “liking” anything. I just wanted to see those pictures. FB finally drove me away.

Why? Because it (actually they, the creators and maintainers of Facebook) have no real interest in protecting privacy regardless of what is implied. In fact, the less private things are, the better of a marketing target I can be for “customized” advertising. I was forever having to reset my privacy settings, which were reset with each FB update and hidden some place different than before. I would log out, but commercial websites were allowed to log me back in so that I could “like” their product, share their website, or tell the world what I was thinking. Even deleting FB cookies in my web browser didn’t help because these would magically reappear even though I didn’t visit FB in the meantime.

Yet, I have a FB page for my book. Why? The gist of it is that as a self-publisher who wants to sell books, I need all the help I can get.

After my book came out several folks suggested I set up a FB page for it. I baulked, but agreed to look into it. A page is a bit different than a personal account. Pages are what businesses use to promote their services and products. The problem starts with having to have a personal account (which means a personal profile). Supposedly these can be kept separate, but the most common complaint in the FB community forums is that in truth, they can’t. Merging the two is considered highly unprofessional by many with business or professional pages. For example, my comments and likes about my granddaughter’s photos have nothing to do with my book. All these show up on my personal “wall” or “timeline” (or whatever they’re calling it these days) and have nothing to do with promoting my book. In truth, they clutter and obscure the marketing of my book.

Unless I am extremely vigilant, FB will merge everything into my personal profile and promote it first. For example, I’ve learned (the frustrating way) that I must switch to my book page profile when I visit my page. FB keeps switching me to my personal profile so that if I don’t take care, my comments and likes on other pages are as my personal profile. My personal profile is about as faceless and bare bones as I can possibly make it, because I’m not interested in using FB that way. This doesn’t help me promote my book.

With a professional page I am targeted as a marketing demographic for FB paid services, such as promoting posts or having FB ads, so that I can become an advertising annoyance to Facebookians who just want to use FB to keep up with their own social circle.

On the plus side? Well, with 500 million FB users, the multiplying effect of a like or a comment can be staggering. When someone comments on your page, that comment shows up on their news feed to their followers (theoretically, that is). This makes it a very easy way to get the word out. By networking with those who have interests on the same subject matter as my book, I can easily promote it by simply letting folks know its there.

But is it worth it? Do all the negatives of having a FB page for my book justify it? Well, I think so. I’ve recently topped 100 likes (a milestone according to FB). I’ve learned from a couple of comments that folks bought my book based specifically on reviews. On the other hand, I have to make sure my page stays fresh to stay in others’ news feeds.

Admittedly, I would find it more useful if FB were set up to be a tool for the user, rather than the user being simply a source for data mining. However, any time I use a “free” resource, I must play by their rules. To use Facebook as a marketing tool must be done with care. Yes, it’s free, but there are pitfalls that come with all “free” services. FB, like everybody else, is in it to make money and has set it up in their best interests, not ours. We, as users, must realize that and not expect it to be something that it is not.

I’m sure the same could be said of almost all social networking sites (which I think are really social marketing sites). We pay the price of our time for free advertising. So if you’d like to take a gander, here’s my FB page for 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. And don’t forget to like me while you’re there. 🙂

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2 Responses to Facebook as a Marketing Tool

  1. Garrett says:

    Well, I must say your experience is not doing much to motivate me to get off my duff and get a FB page for my book.

    Actually, I’d like to create one for me, “The Author” — and I wonder how that looks. Rather than just have it be specific to one book.

    Things have slowed down considerable for my book(s) and now I need to decide how much more time/effort/money(?) I’m willing to put in to try to make them a success.

    Thank you, Leigh, for continuing to share your experiences and insight!


  2. Leigh says:

    Garrett, that’s what I wish I could have done; make my personal page an author page. It’s too late now, but I agree it makes more sense for those with more than one book. It makes it easier to use FB as well, especially if you want to use it on other websites. I mean if a website has a like or share button, you have to be signed in to your personal account to use it. So I can’t go to a relevant site and like or share as my book (with the idea of actually promoting it. ) There are tons of complaints about this on the FB forums but it doesn’t change the way FB operates.

    I hear you about book promotion. Even “free” resources are time consuming and book sales don’t generate enough money to make promotion a full time job. Some public libraries allow local authors to hold book signings. Is that an idea worth pursuing?

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