I have to confess I’m feeling jaded about using social media as an author at the moment.
Facebook’s stated objective is to make the timeline useful for its users. To do that, they apply a range of analytics to the users’ timeline to give the reader what they believe the users wants to read. It’s no longer up to the user to decide, Facebook makes it for them.
This is fine – it’s Facebook’s platform after all – and users are the “product”.
(Note, if a website is free – you’re the product.)
How a company treats its “products” is up to the company. Their platform, their rules.
This means they’re applying that math/rules/analytics to every post I, as an individual and author, make. Let’s look at the author’s side of things for a moment with a few simple observations.
The Writer Side Of Things.
The guidelines for what gets shown are a moving target.
- This month it’s live video.
- Last month it was great pictures and quote graphics.
- Month before that it was publishing entire articles using Facebook.
- The month before that… (who knows, I forget, but that’s another blog post)
Above all, this content is the advertising machine that’s Facebook Ads.
The more Facebook restricts the natural flow of information from the page owners, the more advertising they can charge. The content in my natural flow of information hasn’t changed over the past year. It’s still images, quotes I enjoy, links to how-to articles, the odd how-to video or link to another interesting site.
But the numbers of people seeing those posts has decreased dramatically. And the number of suggestions I get to advertise on Facebook has risen higher every week. “Pay as little as $5 so more of your viewers will see this post” kind of advertising.
- A moving target means the page-owner either creates their own brand of information or creates whatever is “Facebook audience juice-du-jour.”
- Trying to keep up with a 500-pound gorilla is exhausting and frankly, impossible for a small business person or author.
- A plethora of “Facebook experts” are now willing to charge you huge bucks for their special secret sauce to succeed on Facebook. Mind you, it’s only the sauce for this month’s Facebook. Next month, you can pay again to hit the new recipe.
- As I write, live videos are the big traffic machine. There are advertising dollars in video for Facebook (video competes with television for brand advertising) they haven’t accessed yet through their other advertising streams.
- It’s a herd mentality. What Facebook says they want this month will shortly flood our inboxes.
- It’s tiring for an author to a) write and b) try to keep track of what different social media channels are doing.
- My Facebook advertising account data tells me far more about my readers than they can ever imagine.
- There is a growing sense of sleaze as I work to understand what gets through the FB filters to readers and what that means I have to produce if I want my readers to see my stuff. It’s like I’m peeping into my reader’s life and tailoring what I produce to produce a “like”.
How Do I Calculate Facebook’s Value?
I note “likes” have no real value in the real world. They’re an artificial construct created by Facebook. We now measure ourselves by how many people “like” us on any given day. I think the word “like” is extremely creative/powerful and a great decision by Facebook marketers. We all want people to like us so what better measure than using the word in our daily worlds.
I now use “engagement” to measure the value of a post and ignore “likes”.
Any advertising I do – and I will do some – will to focus on posts that have high engagement values.
What a bloody narrow way to run a creative life.
My Fatigue In Of All This
I’ve followed along with Facebook and built up a 5000+ “like” rating on my garden author page. But now, the average interaction averages 400-600-ish individuals.
A year ago, a 4000 post view was superb. Now a 1000 post view is superb. Facebook wants me to make up the difference with advertising.
Facebook For Fiction And Creating an Audience?
Ah, there’s the rub. And the very important question is now out in the open. How do I use Facebook to develop an author audience and platform.
But there are first baby steps to take before spending money.
Before I Tackle Facebook Ads For My Fiction Site
If I want to succeed with Facebook advertising, I need to look at learning how to use their system. Luckily Facebook itself has a free training system set up to help advertisers understand the system.
My First Steps In Using Facebook
- Step one – before anything else – is to continue writing.
- Step two – advise my existing readers about the new adventure.
- Step three – is to study Facebook’s advertising systems (I’ll be measuring the cost for acquiring each new subscriber)
- Step four – is to implement the code onto my website
- Step five – is to experiment with the kinds of ads and performance that works for my intended audience. Basic A/B testing.