Every author is told that they need to build an author platform, and they need to have done so yesterday! Platforms can be built via blogging (just like this!), or using social network sites such as Facebook, twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and any number of others. It's impossible for an author to successfully manage all of these and still find time to write, so it's best to select a couple and be as present on those as possible.
For me, Facebook has been the platform of choice. I spend a lot of time of Facebook, not just working, but staying up to date with the lives of my family and friends.
There have been a lot of mutterings lately about how Facebook has changed the reach of posts to people who have liked pages. The idea is that Facebook reduces the reach in order to get the owners of the page to pay to get the post out to those who have already liked the page. This can be done via 'boosting' a post, which can cost anywhere from £1 to £90, depending on how many people you want to reach! The trouble is that the 'reach' Facebook promises you is only an estimate and can be wildly out in its numbers. I am a fairly regular user of Facebook. It's been my method of choice to communicate with friends and readers alike. because of this, I have used both their advert option, together with 'boosting' a post, and then simply posting as normal. Last week, I launched my new novel, The Sound of Crickets, and so ran an advert, together with boosting a post. But something I noticed was that when I went to write my normal posts, all of a sudden, no one was seeing them. When I say no one, I'm talking about 80 people from my approximately 3500 likers! My first instinct was that Facebook wasn't showing my posts to people because they already had my money! So I cancelled my boosted post, and numbers of my regular post went up slightly, to around 300 likers.
One thing I have noticed is that if you can post something your readers can get involved with, naturally, more people will see it. One of my biggest reach posts lately have been about naming a character in one of my books. That reached 1,150 likers, and that was with a single penny being spent.
So I thought it would be interesting to put together a bit of a study about my latest posts and check out the reach. This will include boosted posts, and what the payment was, and how many additional likes or comments it gains. Here are the results!
Boosted post, cover reveal: £3.00 spent. 2373 people reached, 49 likes, 17 comments, 8 shares.
Boosted post, giveaway: £12 spent. 3178 reached, 59 likes, 48 comments, 8 shares.
Boosted post, book launch £0.59 spent. 19 likes, 0 comments, 8 shares
Image post, 684 reached, 0 comments, 45 likes 0 shares
Image post, 313 reached, 11 likes, 10 comments, 3 shares
Image post, 366 reached. 18 likes, 5 comments, 0 share
Engaging post*: 1150 reached, 14 likes, 50 comments, 0 shares
Engaging post: 721, 17 likes, 32 comments 0 shares
Engaging post: 802 reached, 12 likes,30 comments, 0 shares
Shared link: 182 reached, 3 likes, 1 comment, 1 share.
Shared link: 146 reached, 8 likes, 2 comments, 1 shares
Shared link: 80 reached, 3 likes, 0 comments, 0 shares.
Now I know this is a small handful of statistics, and wouldn't win any study awards, but I think from this small handful that the results are pretty clear. Shared links don't seem to have much impact on facebook at all (at least, not for me!). Images posted will be seen by about 10% of my likers, sometimes more. Engaging posts have the biggest reach at about 20% of my likers, with the most comments, but they tend not to be shared. Boosted posts obviously have the biggest reach, and they also tend to have the most shares, but whether this is because I tend to only boots posts that are 'newsworthy' ie. book sales, new releases or book covers, this may be purely down to the nature of the posts I choose to boost.
I still think facebook is the best way to reach readers via a social network. I have about the same number of followers on twitter as Facebook, yet when I post something on twitter, I'm lucky if I get one or two responses. So, even though Facebook are being money grubbing b****ds, in my opinion, Facebook is still the best way to engage with readers. Even better is if you post things that get your readers involved - asking them opinions about character names, book covers, even plot directions.
Facebook may want your money, but you don't have to give it to them. By asking the right questions, and being engaging, you can still reach the people who like your author page.
What about you? How have you found Facebook's new regime? Do you have any tips for engaging readers on your page? I'd love to hear them!
*a post where I've asked for opinions or ideas