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Using Facebook to market ebooks: How it works, how to get started

With almost a billion users, Facebook is likely to be part of your marketing mix, especially if your books are aimed at the general reading public. But Facebook isn’t just big in numbers. It offers a large and often confusing range of features and applications to help marketers reach its huge reach audience. In this tutorial, we set out the bare basics you need to know to get started.

Facebook CartoonImage: Leadformix Martoons

Some Facebook terminology


Connect to FacebookLet’s start with some important Facebook terminology. This is a constantly changing (and somewhat confusing) feast of jargon but to use Facebook, you need to understand it.

  • Facebook Profile. A Facebook Profile is personal and it must link to a real person. Things you post on Facebook using your Profile are usually private, visible only to people you invite as Facebook friends. Your posts appear in the stream of news and updates from friends and other sources which Facebook calls your timeline.
  • Facebook Page. A Facebook Page is public. Most things on it are open to all internet users and search engines. Facebook Pages are for marketers, Facebook Profiles are not (with some exceptions).

There are a couple of variations that are relevant to marketers but less widely used.

  • Groups. These allow invited Facebook users to participate in closed discussions. In the past, Facebook Groups were used for marketing but they’re best left for closed discussion groups like associations, clubs, user groups, etc.
  • Subscriptions. You can open up your Profile to let Facebook users who are not friends subscribe to your posts. Subscribers will see any post that you’ve marked as ‘public’. This might suit some authors, for instance, if they are already active Facebook users and don’t want to operate separate personal and public accounts.

A quick tour of Facebook


If you’re a Facebook user, you can probably skip this tour. In case you’re not, here’s how people use Facebook and how marketers get into the conversation.

1. First, go to Facebook.com and sign up for a free Profile. Here’s a video that will show you how to do it (click to open). If you’re already using Facebook, you can skip it.

VIDEO: How to set up a Facebook account)

2. Invite people you know to become Friends. Facebook provides many ways to get started, finding people you know on Facebook. As it learns more about your friend network, it regularly suggests other people you may know on Facebook.

3. Post status updates. This is where you let your friends know what you’re doing, or share a video, photo or link with them. Your friends can comment on your updates. Your updates, and updates from your friends, appear in what Facebook calls your wall.

facebook-status-box-for-profile4. Use the Facebook Like button to share things you find on the internet with your friends, and to follow Facebook Pages you’re interested in (become a fan, in Facebook jargon).
Facebook-LikeThe Facebook Like button is everywhere on the internet. It’s a quick way to share items which then appear on your own Facebook news feed and those of your friends’ – though not everything gets shared with everyone since the clutter would make Facebook unusable. Instead, another important algorithm called EdgeRank is at play here. Facebook uses it to determine which of the many posts and comments from your Facebook friends, groups and Pages will appear on your news feed.

More Facebook terminology


We’ve introduced two terms, ‘timeline’ and ‘news feed’. The timeline and the news feed look the same and appear to do the same thing so they are the source of a lot of confusion. But there are important differences which are crucial to marketers.

  • Timeline. The timeline is where you post your status updates. If you’re in your Profile, it’s also where you’ll see your friends’ status updates so it’s basically where you go to see your private communications. On your Page, it’s also where your status updates appear along with comments or updates from your fans.
  • News Feed. When you log into your personal Facebook Profile,  the news feed is what you see. The difference is that, instead of just your private communications with friends, it also includes updates from the Pages you’ve Liked and Groups that you’re a member of. The news feed is your home page and you can get back to it any time by clicking the ‘home’ link on the top right or the Facebook logo on the top left. As a marketer, there are three important things you need to know:
  1. The user’s news feed is where your Page’s updates appear.
  2. The news feed is customised for each user, so your Page’s update might appear on one user’s news feed but not another’s, even though both Liked your Page.
  3. An algorithm called EdgeRank manages what appears in each user’s news feed. This weights all the potential updates based on factors like how often that particular user interacts with the Page, how popular its content is overall, and how recent the content is.

Getting started with a Page


Setting up a business Page is easy.

  1. Go to facebook.com
  2. Click on the Create a Page link at the bottom of the Sign up form on the Facebook home page
  3. Follow the steps
Facebook signup

Click to enlarge image

Until recently, Facebook insisted that you must have a personal Profile before you could create a business Page. That rule has changed and you can now create a Page for your business without first signing up for a personal account. Facebook will create a business account for you as part of creating a Page when you select ‘I do not have a Facebook account‘.

Tip. If you have a personal account and you want to use this to own your business Page, you can click on the Create a Page link or button which you’ll see when you’re logged into your Profile, then follow the steps. This approach makes sense for an author or small business but is not recommended for a corporate user. You can add other Facebook users as admins so you don’t have to share your login. You can also remove admins, including the original page owner if the Page is later sold or transferred.

Here’s a video that shows you how to create a Facebook Page (click to open).

VIDEO: Creating a Facebook Business Page (7:22)

What next?


like_us_on_facebookOnce you’ve set up your Page, the trick is to get Facebook users to Like your Page. This lets them follow your Page and means your updates and posts will get wider coverage by infiltrating the timelines of your fans (those who’ve clicked the Like button on your Page) and their friend networks.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can register a custom username for your Facebook Page. This gives you an easy-to-remember (and potentially more search engine friendly) name in the format facebook.com/MyName, unlike the ugly and difficult-to-remember URL you’re assigned when you first set up your page. You might want to apply for this name before you start printing your Facebook address on any marketing materials.

A Facebook gotcha. In theory, when you post an update on your Facebook Page, fans who Like your Page will also see it in their personal timelines. After all, that what’s you and your fans are signing up for, right? Wrong. In fact, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm filters all the updates flowing into a user’s timeline so that, on average, only about 1 in 10 updates gets through. There are things you can do to improve this but if you want to make sure all your fans get a message, your only option is to use Facebook advertising.

Three rules of engagement for Facebook


Writing good copy should be easy for literary types but Facebook thrives on a different style and it has different objectives. Here are the top three things you can do to write copy that will engage your fans.

  • Keep it short and punchy. Some recent research showed that posts with fewer than 80 words got almost a third more interaction. And as more people access Facebook from their mobiles, this will increase in importance.
  • Give your readers something to do. Add links, photos and videos, ask (easy) questions.
  • Ask. It might sound rude, but you’ll get more interaction if you actually ask for it: Comment, Like, tell us, click, watch, post, tag, share, etc.

Engagement is valuable for more than just feeling good. The amount, and the types of engagement feed into Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm and heavily influence how many fans, and friends of fans, your posts reach. More engagement = more reach. This is a reason to be wary of filling your Facebook Page with fans who have little interest in you. They’ll reduce the percentage of engaged fans.

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