Monday, June 11, 2012

Facebook Fan Pages: Does it Matter When You Post?

If you're a writer with a Facebook Fan Page, you're basically running a business and trying to increase your pool of potential customers (Likes) and drive as many as possible to your blog, Web site, or Amazon page. A key to driving them to you sites is "engaging" them -- getting them to read and comment on your posts -- by posting the right content at the right time.  A recent article on Mashable Business discussed Facebook fan pages and offered engagement advice for large businesses. Does this advice work for authors?

Below is a sampling of their recommendations for best times to post followed by what my experience has been.

I) The Experts Findings (again, these are based on large companies)

- Days and times of week: 
Facebook fans typically were most active at three times of day: before work (7 a.m. EST), after work (5 p.m.) and late night (11 p.m.). Weekends were best for large media and entertainment companies. (My assumption: Writers and authors are a small media and entertainment companies.)

- Frequency:
Another article recommended you start out posting once or twice a week and posting more than once a day can be overkill.

 *Good tip from Mashable: When posting a link, use the entire url, instead of a cryptic, shortened url that way people can see that the link is legit and where it's taking them.

II) My Findings

As a writer, I generally post four types of content:

1) Personal progress reports, including:
- publication updates on the fate of my short stories, nonfiction pieces, and interactions with agents.
- public readings and performances.

2) Links to publishing industry news and tips for writers.

3) Original pieces:
- Publishing and book promotion tips, like this piece.
- New original stories and essays on my blog

4) Occasional weird stuff just for fun
- R. Crumb video (did poorly)

- Old person joke (did well)
- Song: "It's Great to Be a Dickhead" (did well)
- Song: "The Motorcyle/Pickle" song from Arlo Gutherie. (did poorly)

I also post at all hours of weekdays and weekends, including 2 a.m. on some Saturday nights.

To analyze which posts and times generated the most engagement, I examined the Reach of various posts listed in the Insight statistics for my page. (click image to enlarge)

My findings:
It didn't seem to matter what time or what day I posted. I posted to Facebook before, during, and after work hours. I posted at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings (Yes, I have no life.). I posted stories from the various types of stories listed above: Sometimes they did well, sometimes they tanked. Typically, I only posted once a day, but a couple of days I posted twice -- and both stories did equally well.

My take-away: Regular posting seems to be working because my Likes and Reach keep going increasing. (I now have 2,006 Likes and typically add about 10 a week.)


- Explanations: Fans could be checking my posts whenever is convenient for them. I also have a large number of Fans on the West coast.

- My Facebook Author Page is not a huge source of traffic to my Blog and Website. Posting links to Facebook Groups and Linked In Groups drives a lot more traffic.

- I consider my Page to be another channel -- almost like a private radio station/TV channel to reach those people who prefer to spend time on Facebook. Will this lead to more sales? I don't know.

- Regarding Reach: My Reach numbers are always a subset of my Likes. Facebook purposely restricts the number of people you can reach with your posts. (I typically reach 10 to 20 percent of my Likes.) To reach them all, costs money. For more on this, including a possible fix that really isn't a fix, see "FB fans aren’t seeing your posts."

- To determine my best posts/days/and times, I sorted my Reach numbers in Facebook Insights from highest to lowest, exported them to Excel, and then resorted them by date and time posted.(I'm sure there's an easier way, but this worked for me.)

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For more recent Facebook tips for writers, see:
- Easy, Sleazy Book Marketing Tips 
- My Easy, Sleazy Book Marketing Results