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Photo by Sebastian Ilari on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

Romance writers share tips on building Facebook following

By Jennifer Carole Lewis on May 8, 2016

Laurie Cooper and Marissa Caldwell of Pub-Craft joined the Ottawa Romance Writers’ Association (ORWA) to share their trade secrets for making Facebook into an effective marketing tool for authors.

Pub-Craft is a local company that has been providing marketing and promotional support for romance authors since 2013. They’ve taken a number of authors and put them on the New York Times bestseller list.

Five users join Facebook every second and while Twitter, Instagram and other social media programs are growing, Facebook remains the most universally used social media platform. That makes it critical for businesses to know how to use it effectively. Cooper and Caldwell offer 10 simple steps to improve your Facebook presence:

1) Make a Fan or Author page. A personal profile isn’t enough to create a professional presence. Fan and Author pages have features which a regular profile doesn’t (such as scheduling posts and “call to action” buttons that can encourage visitors to join your mailing list or go to your website).

2) Create effective cover photos (the banner across the top of the Facebook page). Your cover photo is the first thing that people see when they visit your Facebook site. It should reflect your work and be visually interesting. Some people include a short bio, an interesting tagline, a custom hashtag, or even a list of upcoming appearances and events.

3) Optimize your posts. Facebook discourages posts which are “overly promotional”, giving them less priority on newsfeeds. Posts which include images or videos are more likely to be circulated than ones which are text or links only. Make sure your posts are genuine, entertaining and shareable, not just requests for people to buy your book. Posts which encourage your readers and followers to interact are even better.

4) Target your Facebook ads. Ads are where an author can go to directly promote his or her work. Cooper and Caldwell don’t recommend boosting posts, but rather focusing on specific ads targeted to your market. Facebook allows for detailed targeting, letting an author send his or her ad to people with specific behaviours or interests (e.g. genre readers) or to search for “lookalikes” to a particular group (targeting fans of work similar to yours).

5) Make your Facebook parties fun and effective. Facebook parties are a great opportunity to cross promote with other authors but it can feel overwhelming when you’re the one on the digital stage. Cooper and Caldwell recommend having a plan in place, broken down into five or ten minute increments. Authors can offer a giveaway, play games, share excerpts or teaser graphics or anything else that encourages their fans to interact.

6) Find appropriate Facebook groups to join. Authors can create their own fan groups but they can also join groups in order to promote. Always make sure to read the “About” section of any group to make sure you’re following their guidelines.

7) Make friends with the Facebook Graph Search. It may feel Big Brotherish, but Facebook’s comprehensive records of who likes what can help you find new potential target audiences. Cooper and Caldwell shared how one of their author’s fans have a high percentage of people who also like a number of food-review sites, giving an opportunity for cross-promotion and also giving the author ideas for what kind of posts would be most interesting to her audience.

8) Install a “Like” and “Share” tab on your website. This allows visitors to Like you on Facebook or Share a post without having to navigate back and forth to Facebook itself. The easier you make it for someone to share what you’re offering, the more likely they are to do so.

9) Track and measure your efforts with Facebook Insights. Insights shows your most popular posts, tracks the gender, age and location of your most engaged fans. This will show you where your promotional focus should be.

10) Keep up to date. Facebook is always evolving and so authors need to keep on top of what is happening. It can be a challenge, but Facebook does share changes on which can save authors from being caught off guard.

ORWA is about to take a break for the summer but you can come visit us at Prose in the Park on Saturday, June 4th from 11 to 6 at Parkdale Park (next to the Parkdale Market) or join us in the fall for our next workshop: So You Want To Write A Romance Novel at Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe Drive) on Sunday, September 25th from 2 to 4.