Recently, I read a comment from an author who didn't understand the perks of having an author page apart from his regular Facebook page. I had to think about that a minute, because I wasn't sure of the answer. I have an answer now, and I think I've discovered a strategy to utilize my own author page better.
I use Facebook for keeping up with family, with both personal and close cyberfriends, and with my writer friends and aquaintances. Most of the folks who have "friended" me are writers. Had I possessed a functioning brain at the time I started this, I would've opened a separate page for personal friends and family, but I didn't and I don't feel inclined to separate everyone at this late date. Besides, they get a kick out of my posts. They're fun and silly for the most part. I also vent about my writing progress/frustrations here. My writer buddies can always relate, but others couldn't care less.
I've never posted about writing on my author page. Aside from this blog, which gets posted to the page automatically with each new update, nothing goes up on that page that pertains to the art, craft, and adventures of writing. That page is all about the readers and what they would find appealing. Not all of my followers on that page are authors. Some really are fans (yea!) who want to keep up with me, learn when my next book is due out, and participate in the giveaways that are always part of new-book promos.
So that's two things I do right--I keep that page about the readers, and I host giveaways only for followers of that page. Just like I have things in my newsletter that are only for folks who take my newsletter.
I read an article that gave ideas of how to better utilize the page. Online Marketing expert, Susan Gilbert, suggested these techniques--well most of them. I supplied another. Susan meant these to be for a Facebook marketing campaign, but I think her ideas are great for keeping your fan page active:
1. Hold regular giveaways. I love this idea. I have several books at the house that I ordered for different events but haven't sold, so I can always offer my own books as giveaways. I can also offer books I've read and am ready to pass on. I keep these in great shape, so they're "like new," and perfect for another reader. I don't know about "regular" giveaways, however, since I'm using this to keep my fan page active instead of using it as a component in single marketing campaign, but random giveaways would work.
2. Ask open-ended questions that engage the readers in dialogue. This one is always hard for me. I come up with things on occasion, but more often than not, they're duds. My winners, however, make the posts fun and the readers' responses are great. I've done this on my regular page and on Twitter (which, for some reason, is always a dud for me), but I think I'll kick it up for my author page, too.
3. Present "calls for action" in which readers can gain opportunity to champion you and your works, or to help you in some other way. I think this is similar to having a "tribe." Actually, this may be a great way to identify those willing to be in your tribe. Be sure to have some tangible way to thank those who help you.
4. Give out tips and advice. This is particularly great when it can pertain to something in your book. If I had a lick of sense--and I do, so I'll probably take my own advice soon--I'd have posts about cat care on my site, since my most recent promo book is The Cat Lady's Secret. Or, since my work-in-progress is a contemporary western romance, I can give tips from my research about things that would interest my western romance readers.
5. Share your author friends' giveaways when they will appeal to your readers. If you're branded (like I'm supposed to be, but I'm not yet. Oops.), your readers are following you because they like the genre you write in, so promote friends' works that appeal to their interest.
Can you do all this on your regular FB page? Of course. Personally though, I like having a separate page for my readers (though not all who follow that page have actually read my books). And, the more active I am on that page, the more people are reached. I'm not sure I can say that about my regular page, because my regular page doesn't keep stats for me.
That's another perk to having a separate author page--the stats. Right now, I have around 680 followers on my author page (not many, I know, but give me time). And on the day I wrote this post, my page reached 1091 readers. That discrepancy is a mystery I'm not interested in solving, but it's great to know that the more active I am on that page, the more people I reach. It's also great to know which posts reached the most people, a stat which allows me to adjust what I'm putting up to appeal to the readers. Also, if I were so inclined (and I'm not), I can compare my page's activity levels to those of other author pages.
But a slow-growing page is the best kind, because many of those joining you are interested and will engage with you, respond to your activity. I recently watched a video someone posted from Veritasium, called "The Problem with Facebook." I recommend everyone watch this before spending too much in the line of advertising dollars on Facebook.
But, regardless of the video, is a fan page worth it? Yeah. I think so. Look for me on mine.