Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Marketing: Is a Facebook Fan Page Useful?

After a year of developing my Facebook Fan Page, I have more than 2,000 fans, a shopping cart for a self-published book (haven't sold one, yet), and dozens of applications. Last week, I spent $20 to promote one of my posts to 10,000 people: Unfortunately, many of them turned out to be from outside the U.S. and many didn't list English as their default language. Has Facebook been worth the time? Probably. Am I reducing the time I spend on Facebook? Definitely. Will I spend another $20 with them? Ha! Will my account be shut down because of this post? Stay tuned.

Facebook Fan Page Basics



A Fan Page is supposed to offer several advantages over the standard personal Profile page, including:
- Size: A Personal Page is limited to 5,000 Friends, while a Fan Page doesn't have this limit. (Are any of us ever going to have more than 5,000 Fans? Doubtful.)
- Analytics: A Fan Page offers basic tools for analyzing your audience. (I know that most of my Fans are between 35 and 54 about evenly split between men and women. If an agent or publisher asks about my audience, I could quote these stats and appear knowledgeable.)
- Applications: I have found at least two that I liked. (see screen shot below.)

Two apps worth considering: TabSite for adding custom Pages and Payvment for adding a shopping cart (Note: I haven't sold a single ebook using this app yet.)

Limitations of Fan Pages

You can't reach all you Fans
Facebook only allows you to reach a small portion of your hard-earned Fans -- unless you pay. (A Facebook Groups page allows you to send messages to members that go to their e-mail inboxes.) Facebook was (or is) also supposed to be charging owners of Profile Pages to reach all their friends.

It is difficult to add Fans
With a Profile page, you can pretty much add Friends willy-nilly, whether you know them or not -- as long as you don't add too many at once. Adding Fans is considerably harder and more time consuming -- you can't simply contact Facebook users and invite them.

How I got more than 2,000 Fans
I started with a Profile Page and over the course of a year added 5 to 10 people a night. (If Facebook warns that you're adding too many people, too quickly -- heed the warning or you may lose your profile!) Once I reached about 1,800 Friends, I converted my Profile page to a Fan page, which converted all my Friends to Fans. It was relatively easy to do: Here's how to convert your Profile Page to a Fan Page

For more than you really want to know about the differences between Fan Pages, Profile Pages, and Groups pages.

Now the Ugly Stuff


Though I now have more than 2,000 Fans, Facebook will only allow me to reach about 200 of them with my posts -- unless I pay $20. So, last week I paid up.

1) The process and my experience


- When you create a post on your Fan Page, there is an option to promote the post.
For me, Facebook indicated that for $20, I could reach 2,800 to 5,300 people, including my Fans and their Friends.

- You can pay with either a credit card of PayPal.
I tried to pay with my Visa and went through all the steps. After entering my Visa info, Facebook's credit card processing program crashed. Or did it? I couldn't tell. So, I sent a note to Facebook Help. (It's been four days and I've yet to hear back. Naturally, there was no phone number to call.)

So, then I paid with PayPal and the payment appeared to go through. I still never received any confirmation from Facebook, and when I looked at the details of my account on Facebook, it appeared that the credit card charge went through. What about the Paypal charge? Was I double-billed? I haven't had time to check.

2) The Results: Facebook claims I reached more than 10,000 people, such a deal!


- According to Facebook's own statistics, many of those people were from the Philippines and India. Many of them didn't list English as their primary language. At press time, I didn't have statics beyond the first two days of the promotion, which extended for four days. (For information on how to target your promotions, see the follow-up to this article on Facebook promotions.)

At least 4,000 of the 10,000 people reached by my $20 Facebook promotion were from outside the U.S. Many didn't even list English as their primary language.

Another But...

- Very few of those 10,000 clicked the link included in my post. (Maybe 50 clicked. Regardless, there was no spike in my Web traffic)

And Another...

- I got about 10 new Fans, many of whom were from foreign countries, and at least one had a name that was not even in English. (Apologies if I sound like a racist, but non-English speakers will not help my book marketing cause.)

Some of my new Fans: Please welcome
राजे विशाल सातदिवे

- The post received 28 Likes (the most I've ever gotten) and 7 comments. At least one comment was from someone who was furious about receiving my unsolicited post -- he had an American-sounding name. (I guess he won't be buying any books from me.)

Good Uses for Facebook


- Posting links to appropriate Groups drives traffic
And it's much easier than posting to Linked In groups -- for Facebook groups, just copy and paste a headline, a deck, and the link. In my experience posting to Facebook Groups for writers, the members click on my links, just not as frequently as Linked In group members click on them.

- Having a Fan page may be good for SEO
It's another searchable page that includes links back to your blog, Web sites, and Youtube videos.

- Fans are Fans
Even though my posts regularly reach only 200 or so of my Fans, those are people who are exposed to my writing regularly and may consider buying a book at some point. (Though, as noted above, I have yet to sell a single ebook on Facebook. To be fair, I haven't done much to promote them to my Fans, but the shopping cart is on the site.)

 *Attribution for thumbs down image;
By Enoc vt (File:Botón Me gusta.svg) [Public domain or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Can't Get Enough Book Marketing?

- Three Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic

- Eight Month Progress Report: Reality knocks at the door.

Had Enough Book Marketing?

- "Why I'm Over Forty and Still Single,"  includes the fish theory, the valency theory, and other medical excuses.  (A video of me reading a scene from novel-in-progress before a live audience.)

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