Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Facebook for fun and marketing

by Miriam

Being a relative latecomer to Facebook, I’ve embraced it enthusiastically. On a personal level, I enjoy knowing what my friends are up to without actually having to schedule a phone call in the middle of a busy week. Given how busy most of my friends are as well, I’m pretty sure that the feeling is mutual. On a professional level, I like to keep tabs on our clients and publishing colleagues – it’s helpful to know who’s doing and saying what, and, often, rumor and information get around faster on Facebook than through PW or Pub Lunch. And, of course, it’s undeniable that with the gazillion members and the sophisticated networking capabilities, Facebook is a great way to market yourself and your book. Thing is, you gotta do it right.

Because I’m far from being an expert in this area, I won’t go into technical details about what doing it right entails. (In fact, I would suggest that those of you trying to establish an effective presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, who have the means to do so, should seek help from a good brand building consultant specializing in this area.) But, I can share some of the things my colleagues and I have discussed as being turnoffs:

1. Be interesting. If you’re using social media to further your career, don’t treat it like the equivalent of sitting on your couch in an old t-shirt, watching reality tv and eating Doritos. You should make an effort to make interesting observations, post entertaining links, etc. Telling all your friends repeatedly that you love your cat, or offering local weather reports in your area, or what you had for dinner last night is nice every once in a while but if all your posts are the same, people will stop paying attention.

2. Don’t oversell yourself or your book. If you only post when you have a book event you want people to go to or use your update screen to post fragments of your novel, your “friends” will start to get annoyed. Your posts will become the equivalent of spam and be roundly ignored.

3. Try to read your friends’ posts and comment when appropriate – don’t just indiscriminately “like” everything or offer clichéd or throwaway responses to their posts. Remember, their friends are seeing your comments too and that’s an opportunity to expand your own network.

4. Avoid sending “gifts” en masse. A birthday greeting to a friend is fine. A “blessing” that will appear on the walls of your 1,500 friends…not so much.

What are the Facebook practices you all find irritating? And which other social networks do you find yourself and your favorite authors on online?


  1. I find it insanely irritating when I get updates on my facebook page on the progress of the games people are playing that I'm not involved in (which are all of them). I'd suggest if you're marketing your book and playing games during the days you hit your word count quota early to turn that notification off.

  2. The games can be annoying - but I'm guilty of playing one (and only one!) myself. The games can at least be disabled by people who don't want to get those notifications, so that's handy. I know some of the people who I am more of an acquaintance with have remarked, maybe the one time we ever actually speak either via facebook, comment or message, say I update mine too much - but the people I actually know like my updates. (My twitter updates my facebook ...and I think myspace) I don't find it annoying to those who also have twitter update their facebooks - because the honest truth is that I don't have to read it if I don't have the time or inclination to.

    Of the things that annoy me - the gifts - if I wanted to send that friend of mine a gift - I would stick a giftcard in an envelope and send it to them. Messages that are addressed to one or more people about something I cannot attend or don't care to know about; anytime someone replies the message is sent to everyone and there is not yet a way to get your name off that list. I think that's it. :D

  3. Oh, those Mafia and Farmland (or whatever it is) and the gardening one... I'm not interested in those at all, and I block requests from people asking me to help them feed their goat, etc.

    There are a few authors I've "friended" on FB and they do this social networking really, really well. They post writing related tidbits (a few are working on series) and then a little personal thing here or there (but nothing too personal). It's interesting and they give their followers an insight to their lives without overdoing it. It's a fine line, and it can be followed if the author is savvy.

  4. NOT interested in the games Facebook has to offer. My time is valuable and when I visit sites like Twitter or Facebook I want to connect with somebody or find out some interesting news or such, not see a rundown of their extracurricular activities!

  5. I think the courtesy should be that if someone takes the time to read and comment on your update that you should return the favor. I understand if it's a fan page, but if it's a personal page then you should interact with your "friends".

  6. It used to drive me crazy to have to scroll down the page past animals being sold and crops being grown. Then I found out that Facebook allows one to eliminate Farmland etc. feed. Just go to the upper right hand corner of your friend's comment, where Hide will emerge, click, and you will be given the option to eliminate all feed or just the type that irritates.

  7. The games drive me nuts, but so do the folks who try to friend you just to gain followers, not because they're interested in you.

  8. I am mystified by the games myself -- I don't need any more ways to waste time. Was it Aldous Huxley or George Orwell who predicted we'd end up living lives absorbed in mindless trivia? Worrying really.

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