Three Steps to Fan Page Awesomeness

Well, it is WANA Wednesday and here are some nifty platform-building tips from my newly-released book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media.

Today we are going to tackle the ever-mysterious Facebook Fan Page. If you are like me and were born a D&D loving nerd, there have been few opportunities to feel more like a loser than the fan page. If done incorrectly, building a fan page can cause anxiety, heart palpitations, and a recurrence of that nightmare where even though you are 36 and have an advanced degree, your high school counselor shows up to your place of employment to announce that your credits never counted and ergo you never graduated and that you start tenth grade on Monday. EEK!

So I feel your pain. But we writers persevere despite because we really, really, really want to be taken seriously…and so we look to the fan page.

The good news is that Facebook has made the fan page a tad easier to endure in that now people can simply “like” us instead of becoming “a fan.” I guess the moniker “fan” just implied too much emotional commitment. But now you have no excuse when it comes to taking that professional leap and creating a fan page.

All writers need a fan page. Period. And I know there has been a lot of debate about this, but I am right and they are wrong, so there😛. Seriously. How many of you new writers out there are planning to fail? Like literally. You woke up this morning and went, Yeah I am so happy about that thousand words I got down on my novel. Too bad no one will read these words until they are packing up my things when I’m DEAD. What? No one? No takers? How many went I just love wasting time. Nothing like watching the months and years of my life slip by with nothing to show for it *cue “Dust in the Wind”*.

So this was my sarcastic way of saying that all writers, regardless the level, should plan for success. Yes, even the newbie who is still trying to scrape her memory for what a heck a dangling participle actually is…and not giggle like it’s eighth grade. Yes, you too. No hiding in the back of the classroom.

All writers need a fan page. Now when you publish that fan page will be up to you. Why a fan page? Well, among many other advantages we cannot discuss today…

  • Fan pages can separate your identity from You Normal Person to You the Author
  • Fan pages can help you establish a pen name
  • Fan pages help others take you seriously as a professional
  • Fan pages will help you manage large numbers of fans in the future with less hassle than and standard FB page

 

I go into all of this in far more detail in my book, so we will are going to just give an overview today. If you are planning on being published, you must have a fan page. Sorry. Whether we like it or not marketing is part of the job description. I know most of us would rather have brain surgery with a KFC spork than have to self-promote, but that’s the cold hard truth. Anyone tell you different and they are lying or selling something.

But the cool thing is that social media is supposed to be, above all else…social. Writers tend to do one of two things when you tell them they need to market. Either they run screaming for the nearest Ben & Jerry’s distributor or they turn into that weird third cousin we haven’t talked to since she joined Amway. So no hiding and no turning into a SPAM bot. I’m here to help you find the balance.

FB fan pages are just a way of focusing all your writer energy and efforts into one spot and allowing others to support and encourage one area of your life. They will also help brand your name, even if that brand is wide Your Name Writer until you figure out whether you want to write about vampires or space aliens or wizards. People can begin to associate Your Name with Writer.  I highly recommend my blog on author branding as a first step.

When I first started writing, I had no clue what genre I wanted to focus on…and some days I still don’t. But that was no excuse not to begin branding who I was so that when someone went, “Hey, you know that Kristen Lamb chick?” People automatically replied, “Oh yeah the writer.” That alone was a great start….and way better than,“Kristen Lamb? The chick who had her skirt tucked into her pantyhose?”

There are right ways and wrong ways to do FB fan pages. Do them incorrectly and you could have more personalities than Sybil running around unattended. You could unwittingly make five times the work for yourself and in the end wind up feeling unloved and abandoned when you have five fans…one is your mother who hacked your password to find out your pen name, and the other four are actually spammers, but you didn’t have the heart to delete them.

So let’s do this the smart way.

First…

Fan pages, even if you use a pen name, should be created off your personal page. In fact, if you do not yet have a FB page, I recommend starting a personal page first. Think of this page like the traffic cop, where you will direct those members of your network who want to support you as a writer to your fan page.

So build your normal FB page. If you already have a FB page, then no need to start over to keep “your identities” separate. For the sake of brevity read my blog from last week It’s a Pen Name, Not Witness Protection. We writers have to have time left over to write great books. Writing excellent books is a lot of work that takes a lot of time. So needless duplicated efforts are bad juju.

Second…

I recommend building your fan page in secret. When you are building the page, there is a function that will make the page only visible to you the administrator. You have to have 25 “fans” before the fan page name is yours fair and square. In this instance, I recommend publishing the new fan page only long enough to get 25 friends, family and fellow writers to “like” you and then the name is yours for good.

Think of this like house renovations. When the contractors come and knock out counters and remove all your toilets is not the time to have a little soiree. Take time to construct a nice page. Add good content. Blogs, articles, pictures of you at your critique group, You Tube videos of you speaking. Make it look nice for when you are ready to launch.

Thirdly…

Hit the Golden Three Hundred. Spend time getting to know people on your regular page. When you hit three hundred (or whatever number makes you feel comfortable) then send out a bulk invite to all of your friends. See, now you will be super glad that you built this baby off your regular page. Why? Because 300 or more is fishing from a way bigger pond! And since you have spent time making the fan page look great, it will be far less awkward for people to “like” you.

Once you make your fan page public then feel free to send people directly to your fan page via buttons or Twitter (all explained in my book). Or, just hang out on the regular page being a normal person. Take advantage of those close networks of family and friends and never discount what great cheerleaders they can be. Interact on the regular page as long as you can. The fan page lacks the two-way communication that you will need, especially early in your career. People generally do not expect to chit-chat with Sandra Brown. They will, however, expect it from us.

But, doing your fan page this way will maximize time, minimize embarrassment and make the best impression. Nothing like a snazzy fan page to get your friends and family to say, “Wow. I guess she really intends to do this thing.” And when you do get an agent and a three-book deal, the hard work on your fan page will already be done, so you can focus on writing great novels instead of starting from scratch.

Until next time…

Happy writing!

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  1. #1 by Piper Bayard on August 18, 2010 - 5:56 pm

    Hi Kristen. Thanks for the great post. I’m taking it as a personal swift kick, reminding me of the importance of getting all of the social media in order. Facebook is now at the top of my social media “to do list.” All the best.

  2. #2 by PJ Kaiser on August 18, 2010 - 6:01 pm

    Great post, Kristen – navigating these social media waters, especially facebook, is a challenge. You’ve provided good, concrete advice here.

    Do you have any sense of how agents and editors or anybody else views these metrics … such as having more than X fans on a fan page or having more than Y personal friends on facebook or having more than Z followers on twitter? It can be a challenge as a new writer to figure out where to spend my time and energy. And I certainly don’t want to employ tactics that just result in higher numbers but don’t increase the amount of meaningful interaction on social media.

    Based on your advice, I have begun mentioning my fan page to my fb “friends” which has been a big step for me. I’ve been very shy about my writing among my friends IRL.

    • #3 by Kristen Lamb on August 18, 2010 - 6:45 pm

      Don’t worry about the metrics. Focus on providing great content and the metrics will follow. If you read my book I teach a way for managing all the major social media sites at one time without losing your mind. So long as you regularly post good content and focus on serving others, your following will grow. If you love Twitter, tweet away. If you like something you will be enthusiastic about it and people will catch on. By the same token, if every time you log into FB, you want to slam your head in a door…we will feel it. My book, however (sorry for all the self-promo) does teach you a way to at least have a presence on all the platforms. Where you spend the bulk of your time is up to you.

  3. #4 by funcitygal on August 18, 2010 - 6:11 pm

    Kristen, this is a great article. Great tip on the name.

    I think you are correct about the Fan vs. Like point.

    -Renee’

  4. #5 by annieb123 on August 18, 2010 - 6:15 pm

    Kristen, this is very timely for me. I just created my fan page and I have more than 25 but fewer than 300 fans. I bought your book on Kindle but it downloaded funny so step two for today is to see how I can go about reloading it. In the meantime, how do I send out a bulk invite to all of my friends on FB? There has to be an easy way right?

  5. #6 by virginiaripple on August 19, 2010 - 3:25 am

    I’ve heard a lot of people tell me I *need* a fan page, but never in such a clear, down-to-earth way. I tried creating one once, but it became such a hassle because I had no idea how to do what the “experts” were saying I needed to do. There was absolutely no help there. After reading this, I think I might just give it another whirl sometime soon. Thanks.

    • #7 by Kristen Lamb on August 19, 2010 - 10:03 am

      No need to rush. My book has a very easy step-by-step on how to create one. Work on building that regular page right now and then do the fan page when you are ready. The day you sign with an agent, however, is not the time you do all of this. Build ahead of time and you look committed to your own success.

  6. #8 by Christine Macdonald on August 19, 2010 - 9:32 pm

    Excellent and retweeted, of course.🙂

    By the way, have you seen my Facebook Fan Page? Please visit and stay a while…

    xxoo

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tales-From-an-Ex-Strpper/247748807964?ref=ts

    Christine

    “thatgalkiki”

  7. #9 by Terry Odell on August 22, 2010 - 1:50 pm

    Interesting. I’ve never been a ‘fan’ of fan pages, and the new ‘like’ is even more off-putting to me personally, but you’ve given some good arguments. I still get good traffic on my regular facebook page, and am so far away from maxing out my friends, I haven’t considered switching.

    • #10 by Kristen Lamb on August 22, 2010 - 5:07 pm

      Thanks Terry for the comment, and I hear you. You may not need to have a fan page for a while. It’s a good idea just to build this in the background while you’re building your platform. When you get to be a successful author, fan pages will help. First, you don’t have to approve every single friend request. They are automatically approved. Second, you can e-mail thousands of people at one time, which you are going to want to do when a new book is coming out. A reg FB page can only e-mail 20. E-mail is also one-way, so you won’t get bogged down with chit-chat. Fan pages also give you metrics, so you will be able to see where you are getting the best traffic, so you will be better able to target what works and use time more efficiently. All of my tools are about preparing to be successful,😀.

  8. #11 by Tawna Fenske on August 23, 2010 - 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the great info! I feel pretty comfortable with my Twitter and blogging presence, but have been on the fence about whether to take the plunge with Facebook. I’m starting to lean toward it, but I’m just not sure I want to take on another social media tool at this stage. Thank you for the timely perspective!

    Tawna

  9. #12 by Deb on October 26, 2010 - 4:40 pm

    Very informative. Thank you!

  10. #13 by Alannah Murphy on March 24, 2011 - 3:45 pm

    Thanks for this Kristen. Up until now, I didn’t quite “get” the idea of having a fan page. It’s planning for the future, and I like that. I just felt it was almost arrogant to have a fan page when I’m not really known etc but you make perfect sense. Thank you again for the great information.

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