David Black Agency
7 Essential Elements for an Author’s Facebook Page
IMPORTANT SETTINGS CHECKLIST

As soon as your Facebook Page is created, you should investigate and edit the settings for the various features available on your page. Remember that you’ll need to revisit these settings every time you add a new feature or App to ensure that you’re maximizing the full potential Facebook has to offer…read more

UPDATE: As of March 30, 2012, all Facebook pages have been upgraded to the new Timeline design. I hope to update this piece with those new details, but much of the advice here still stands (except for the photo stream, as it no longer exists). In the meantime, you will find a handy overview of the new features at Inside Facebook

You might have heard this figure before: If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest by population, trailing China and India. With 500 800 million members (and yes, its own currency), Facebook has become a hub of connection and commerce. [I'm betting that it's only a matter of time until Facebook becomes a new distribution channel for your books and other works, purchased via subscription or in individual sales, with Facebook credits.] And now, having a Facebook Page is as perfunctory as having a website and a business card. While it means one more media profile you’ll have to manage, it really is a valuable tool when integrated into your web presence as a whole.

Before you even create your Page (which takes all of 3 clicks), you should write a brief plan for your Page. Should it be an “Author” Page under your full name or an “Entertainment” Page with your book’s title? While I recommend using your full name for brand recognition and consistency, there may be circumstances in which using a book’s title makes more sense. For example, maybe you’re a sportswriter who publishes a romance series, and decided not to use a pen name. So as not to confuse your two audiences, you might want to create a Page for the series, instead of your name. If that’s how your targeted audience knows you, then use it. But the important takeaway here is to remember that it’s much easier to get a fan to “like” one Page than seven, so don’t create several Pages because you can. Focus your brand, your message, and your content into one central source. Then determine what kind of content you have: book descriptions, photos, videos, links, and other multimedia content. Choose only the content that makes sense and adds value (and not just because you have it).

Now that you have a plan in place, you’ll need to create a Page. Facebook has a rather helpful and straightforward FAQ about the basics of a Page (vs. a profile) and a brief manual on how to get started. If you don’t have a personal Facebook profile, create one. If you don’t think you’ll use it much personally, that’s OK as you can keep it private and communicate with fans just through your Page. (And your kids or grandkids will likely appreciate that awkward family photos on your personal profile not be made public to everyone on the “Internets.”)

To create your Page, click here. Select Artist, Band, or Public Figure, then narrow down to Author from the drop down box. Enter the name of your Page (you change this until you reach 2,000 fans), agree with Facebook’s terms and conditions, and click “get started.” [If you’ve decided to create just a Page for your book, then you’ll want to select Entertainment instead. You can always change this later, but you really should have a plan and stick to it.]

Congratulations, you now have a Facebook Page!

Once you’ve created the Page, filled in the necessary information for your mandatory “info” tab, and updated your settings (see sidebar), the following seven elements will help elevate your Page from just a newsfeed to a “microsite” devoted to your content and your audience.

1. Profile photo.

The maximum picture size for your profile photo is 180 x 540 pixels. Take advantage of the space afforded and create a tower ad for your brand. If you don’t like your author photo or if your audience wouldn’t recognize your face, don’t use it. Create a banner with book covers, a logo, a tagline or another branded image.

2. Username.

A registered username will create a short URL for your page. This is really important for promotion. The default URL for a page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/PageName/###############. A little clunky to say, huh? It’s much easier to direct fans to your Page with “facebook.com/PageName.”

A few caveats: 1) You can’t select a username until you have 25 fans. This is where it pays to have a big family and/or a lot of friends. Share your Page link and ask them to like you. As soon as you reach the benchmark, Facebook will post a message inviting you to create a username. If you don’t see it, just go to www.facebook.com/username and follow the prompts. 2) A Username must be unique. If you have a common name, it may not be available. Select an appropriate username that is as faithful to your Page’s name as possible 3) Choose wisely–once you select a username, you cannot change it.

3. Five great photos.


Like the new Facebook profiles, your page will feature a Photostream, a row of five of the most recent photos you’ve uploaded or tagged to the Page. You might have noticed or heard about some profiles that employ a “hack” (not really a hack, just a design trick that’s been adopted by some Apps like Profile Maker and Profile Banner)  to integrate the profile photo with the five photos so that your profile becomes a larger canvas. Alexandre Oudin (below) was the first credited for employing this feature of the new Facebook profile design, and Mashable has a roundup of some of the most creative.

Now, the “hack” and the Apps work only for personal profiles, not for pages (you can’t control in what order the photos appear). But I wanted you to see what some have done with their profiles for inspiration. You should approach this row of photos in one of two ways: A) as an unchanging thumbnail album that displays five central images of your brand B) as an evolving display of the many and various activities around your book and brand.

You may want to opt for A if you have five book covers or illustrations to display. Each thumbnail is 97 x 68 pixels, so choose photos that are landscape and look good when resized according to those dimensions. Visitors will be able to click on the photos to view them larger, like them, add comments, and share on their own profiles. If you later upload a photo in a status update, it will be added automatically to the Photostream. Just click the X that appears in the top right corner of the photo when you scroll over it with your mouse. This will “hide” the photo from your wall and restore the five original photos to the stream.

You may opt for approach B if you are on tour or can take a thematic approach that will allow you to update the photos often. The keyword here is updating: unless the photostream is an intentionally static banner, the photos will begin to look old and irrelevant (holiday photos in June will not only seem silly, but also tell visitors that you probably don’t post updates often. Don’t give them a reason not to “like” and receive updates from you).

4.  Newsletter Sign Up.

If you haven’t signed up for a newsletter service, you should. If you do, check to see if your subscription service offers a companion Facebook App that plugs in a sign up form to your Page. Use every opportunity to collect those names–if they sign up, they want to be on your list and hear from you. Whether you reach 100 people or thousands, this built-in audience can help spread the word about you and a new book.

Some popular newsletter subscription services are Constant Contact, MailChimp, Campaigner, and Cheetahmail. I prefer MailChimp: it’s user-friendly, its pricing is competitive (a free account can have 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails/month), and it offers many text and video resources for successful campaigning. The Facebook App is very easy to integrate, but they do provide instructions here as well. Constant Contact also has a Facebook App, but I haven’t found their interface to be as simple to use if you want a custom newsletter template.

5.  Blog/RSS Feed.

If you blog or have a news section on your website that operates as an RSS feed, you can and should allow that feed to run on your Facebook Page. You can import the feed through Facebook Notes, or through a third party App (I recommend Social RSS or RSS For Pages or RSS Graffiti). If you’re using one of the third party Apps, go to the App page. Scroll down the left column and click on “Add to My Page.”  Find your Page on the pop up list and click “Add to Page.” The go to your Page, go to the administrator interface (edit page) for your Page and find the App in your App list, and click “Go to App” directly below it. Then follow the prompts to set up your RSS feed on your Page.

If you want to use Facebook Notes, to import your RSS feed, go to the administrator interface (edit page) for your Page. Notes is an App developed by Facebook, and comes installed on your Page. Click “Go to App” just below Notes in your App list. In the bottom left, you will see “Edit import settings.” Enter your RSS URL, and select “Start importing.”

Whether you use Notes or a third party App, make sure you adjust the permissions and settings for the App as desired (specifically, whether it publishes to your wall or not). See sidebar for important settings to check on.

6.  Events.

You might list your events on your website calendar, or make use of BookTour.com. Why do you do so? To notify your readers when you’re going to be in their area? To drum up buzz and publicity for your events? Well then, you should list your events on Facebook as well. While I often recommend that authors use BookTour (it’s an easy to use tool and your events feed in to your Amazon author page), you should list your events individually on Facebook through the Events App rather than importing an RSS Feed to your Notes or a third party App.

To add events, go to the administrator interface (edit page) for your Page and find Events in your App list, and click “Go to App” directly below it. Then follow the prompts to set up your RSS feed on your Page. Enter in your event information (don’t worry about selecting guests to invite).

7.  Custom Content.

“What? Why is this at the bottom of the list? Of course I want to add custom content to my Facebook page!” Well, six months ago this tutorial would have looked very different. That was when Facebook still allowed FBML and Static FBML boxes.  FBML stands for Facebook Markup Language, which is officially a proprietary mark-up language that facilitates communication with the Facebook Platform API [application programming interface]. In layman’s terms, any mark up language tags are the commands that dictate how your content should be treated and displayed. Announced in 2010, the deprecation of FBML and Static FBML was fully integrated as of the end of March 2011. Instead, Facebook is now using iframe for Pages. If you want to build your own landing page or have custom content, you need to build your own App. HubSpot and HyperArts offer a great tutorial for creating your own App, but you have to have some knowledge of HTML, PHP, and/or CSS, and you need to have a server on which you can store your html file.

While in the end this is a better move for how end users experience Facebook (and definitely a win for Facebook and developers who want to convert Facebook presence and investment into profit), it certainly–and in MHO, unfortunately–cuts out the DIYers who, with a few tutorials, could create custom Page content.  You probably don’t want to hire professional developers to build a custom App if you’re reading this, but there are some free or low-cost third party Apps that have surfaced to address the void left by Static FBML. However, note that each App can only be added to a Page once, so you can’t have more than one custom tab with each App. And you still might need some knowledge of HTML, PHP, and/or CSS.

TabPress (free up to 5,000 fans): adds custom iframe tab to your Page. You can make it a landing page that shows one set of content to non-fans and a different set of content to fans; you can also make one set of content visible to both fans and non-fans.

IFrame Apps

Static IFRAME Tab

Welcome App (another landing page App)

The good news about this “simplification”? It will allow to think more about how to produce good, engaging content for your newsfeed (and the attainment of that all-powerful “Like”).

5/17/2011, updated 1/5/2012

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