Social Media for Historical Fiction Writers, Part 4: Facebook

Originally, I wasn’t going to start with Facebook, but I just had a pretty successful post take off this week, so I think I’ll write while the memory’s fresh.  Also, I’m writing this with a sinus cold and a ton of Day/Nyquil in my system, so I apologize for any errors.

I’m not going to talk about the basics of Facebook, mainly because everyone I know has a Facebook account, or at least knows what Facebook is.  As a rule for this series, I’m not going to walk through the basics of creating an account, setting up a page, etc., mainly because most sites have a pretty fool-proof way of showing people how to do that, and they’re the experts on their own site.  Instead, I’ll talk about how I’ve used the page to my advantage, getting the most bang for my buck (so to speak), and I’ll definitely answer questions as necessary.

As I wrote before, I thought Facebook wasn’t really worth my time.  It seemed like getting the word out about my page would involve paying money I don’t have in my budget (everything goes toward buying new copies to sell, or certain promotional materials, such as bookmarks and business cards).  With all the algorithms and ways for a page to simply get lost in the shuffle, it appeared as though Facebook would be a good place to have a “holder page”, to protect one’s image, and update it every so often.  Then, I discovered something interesting, something which I had known, but never really put to good use:

  1. Trending Topics.

Now, depending on your time period, this can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  The secret is to pick a topic which is somehow related to your story and write on it.  Granted, it might be easier for a WW2 author to find a related Trend than, say, a Victorian romance author, but creativity means options won’t be entirely limited.  For example, my current “most popular” post is about Tall Ships America, where replicas of different types of ships said around the Great Lakes, making stops in prearranged ports.  This year, one of the ships involved is a replica of a 17th cen. galleon, el Galeón Andalucía.  Now, The Trastámara Series will end during the 16th century, but since I live in the USA (Michigan, specifically), it’s rare to see any sort of Spanish history in person.  Naturally, I was excited, and posted a quick blurb, as well as a link to both of the sites listed above.

Considering how small my page is, the post exploded.  I didn’t know it at the time, but my post was listed under the Trending Topic itself (which was about another ship dropping out of the journey due to fees), meaning hundreds people were able to see and interact with it.  Usually, my posts reach no more than 50 people per week, and engage fewer than 20% of those people, but overnight, my post rose in popularity, until:

This happened.

Now, how am I going to capitalize on this?  Easy: by making more posts of a similar nature.  As of this moment (July 12), I will have a quick ad go out for my new followers, and tomorrow morning, a post about the Running of the Bulls will go live on my page.  My Running of the Bulls post will have a relevant quote from LA BASTARDA, which I hope will incite new interest in the book.  I’ll update again, soon!

(Also, from the moment I took that screenshot less than an hour ago, until now, my post has reached thirty more people, and three more have been engaged, for a total of 354 and 50, respectively.)

Alright, it’s Monday morning, and I’ve got a bit of an update.  First, let me share the screenshot I just grabbed from my dash:

Yeah.  559 people reached – over 200 more than I mentioned before I updated this.  I also did up two other posts during that time, one of which was an ad, while the other was talking about bullfighting in Pamplona.  Those two didn’t do as well as my post about the Galeón, but they still did really well, considering I do have such a small page.

Speaking of having such a small page, let me show you my page insights, specifically my posts, so you can see exactly what I’m talking about when I say that these posts have been absolutely amazing for my page.

The Galeón post is the third one down, and you can see that every post after it had more interactions than the posts before.  Something you can’t see is my following growing over 10% – from 29 people to 32 people following me – during this time period.  Hi, new followers!  Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy my writings and such! 😀

So, I suppose my major suggestion is looking for a trending topic which relates to your book, and posting on it.  Maybe include a small excerpt of your writing, maybe not, but it’s all up to you.  If you’ve noticed a topic that’s trending, but it might be too late for your target audience?  You can schedule a post for when they are more likely to read it, simply by clicking the little down arrow to the side of the “Post” button.  It’s awesome, and I’ve used it quite a bit.

3. Events

Another thing I like about Facebook is the ability to create events.  I think most of us have seen a Facebook event, so I’m not going into too much detail about them, but they’re a way for a page to really gauge interest.

Now, I have two places that I can create an event.  One says “page tips” and it’s part of a tutorial for running a page.  It’s helpful if you’re one of those people who want to know everything right away.  I’m not, but I’m not saying that my way is better at all – it’s just how I work.  If you’d like a tutorial, simply scroll down on your Page until you see the “Page Tips” on the left-hand side.  If you don’t have that, keep scrolling, and on the same side you should see a box titled “Upcoming Events” – click on that, or click on the blue like that says “create an event” if you’re like me and don’t have anything in the box right now.  😥

Now, creating an event is pretty simple.  You’ll need to add:

  • A Name
  • A Location
  • Starting and Ending Times
  • A Category for your event (my usual category is Arts > Books, but your preference may vary.  😀 )

That’s it, that’s all you have to add.  Of course, there are other things which will definitely personalize it, such as

  • Adding a picture
  • Adding a description of the event – is it a signing, a reading, a showcase, or something else entirely?
  • Tags, so that it can be shown to people with specific interests
  • A website URL, either for buying tickets (as needed) or for linking to the event host’s website
  • Co-hosts – are there other authors involved?  Other people?  Add them to the list, and they can make changes or update the event as information comes in.  🙂

I love making events, because they’re easy to share (which is the #1 thing about Facebook), they’re a pretty standard format (almost everyone is familiar with a Facebook event), and people can RSVP with a click of a button.  It’s awesome!  There aren’t a lot of social media platforms with this feature available, so I’d take advantage of it across the board – I often share my Facebook events on Twitter, Instagram, etc.  🙂

3. Messages

Messages?  Like, of the Instant or Private variety?  Why on earth does that matter?

This is why it matters:

messages

See the little “Very Responsive to Messages”?  Yeah, that’s important.  It lets your fans know that you answer most, if not all of your messages. in a timely manner.  It’s great if someone sees your stuff on Facebook and decides, “Hey, I’d like to have them in my store/at my event!”, of if a fan has a question about your upcoming release – they know you’ll respond to their inquiries.  Social Media is all about connecting, and the responsiveness rate of your messages lets fans know that you’re there to talk!  For more information on getting the “Very Responsive” badge, see the Facebook question here: https://www.facebook.com/help/1625715647696553

Now, what happens if you have to leave your keyboard for any reason?  Well, you can turn on an Away message as easy as the click of the mouse.  Simply go to the Messages tab in your Page, click on it.  At the bottom-left of the screen, you’ll see a grayed-out word (“Away”) with a switch next to it; simply click that switch, and for the next twelve hours, you’ll be considered “Away from your Messages”.  Anything received at that time will not count for or against your responsiveness rate.  Coming back early, and want to answer a newly received message?  Simply click on the switch and you’re back!  No hassle.

Well, that’s really it for this post.  Stay tuned for next week’s post about Twitter.  Thanks so much, and have a great week!  🙂

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3 thoughts on “Social Media for Historical Fiction Writers, Part 4: Facebook

  1. Helpful blog post! My problem is that tonight I finally figured out how to put a way for my blog readers to connect to my FB, but it directs them to my personal page instead of my Janet Morrison, Writer page. I’ve run into this before and have been unsuccessful in figuring out how to give people a link to my FB writer page. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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    • I don’t want you to think that I’m ignoring you – we’ve had an unseasonable warm spell this weekend, and I’m trying to get some minor yard work done. I’m also re-researching this – I remember doing it, but once I was finished, I put it out of mind! I’ll get back to you very soon! 🙂

      Like

    • My first question – how did you get the “Follow me on Social Media” link? Did you specifically fill in the link or can you edit it (because if that’s the case, all you have to do is copy the address of your author page [the “Janet Morrison, Writer” page], not personal profile, into the box), or did it fill in automatically and won’t let you change it (I’ll have to research a bit more)?

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