Tips for Authors starting out on Google+ & Facebook

branding iron by Martin Kelley

branding iron by Martin Kelley

If you’re an author wondering if you should join social networking sites like Google+ or Facebook, or how to engage with people once you’re there, this post is for you. If you’ve already fully embraced either (or both) platforms, then keep on keepin’ on!

Which is a better social platform for authors: Facebook or Google+?

It’s a popular question right now. Projections that Google+ will hit 400 million users by the end of 2012 (still only have the size of Facebook!) are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Unfortunately, I can’t answer which is better. Sorry. Like so many things in life, it depends. In this post, I’ll make a case for why you should approach both properties differently. To wit Authors need a Facebook Page and authors need a Google+ Profile.

On Facebook, Authors need Facebook Pages (not Facebook Profiles)

Many authors can’t find a healthy mix of personal and professional content sharing, especially with the barrage of input from existing friends, family and mindless games. These challenges and more make it difficult for reluctant authors to find a firm place to start.

When you set up a Facebook Page, many of these problems disappear. An Author Page will look and feel a lot like an author Profile, but with some key differences. Like:

  • Public only – By design, everything you post on your Page is for the masses. Know that, and you’re never in danger of over-sharing embarrassing personal stuff. That happens a lot on Profiles. Oops.
  • Your wall, your content – The wall is the lifeblood of Faceook. A big portion of users like to post things on other people’s walls. As an author, you probably don’t want this. A Facebook Page makes it very easy to prohibit anyone posting anything at all to your wall. That keeps you completely in control of the content.
  • Everything in its place –  Your bio. Awards you’ve won. Books you recommend. Yes, there’s a spot for personal interests, but nothing about your favorite band or TV show. Ah, specificity!
  • Multiple user management – You can assign someone rights to help create, manage or maintain your Page, without giving them access to your personal profile. That’s a huge win for your privacy and security.
  • Branded events – Perfect for the things you do as an author. Book signings. Release dates. Classes. Lectures. If it’s a physical event with a physical address, you can use events on your Page to invite people — and ask them to spread the word.
  • Engagement on your terms – No “instant messages” to contend with. No showing “available”. No inane requests to join the latest time-wasting craze.
  • Likes, not friends – Pages aren’t allowed to like Profiles. So there’s no feeling of guilt when you don’t follow-back a fan. With a Page, you can’t!
  • Prestige by association – Pages can like other Pages. So like your publisher (if you do), the company that does your ebook conversion, bookstores that carry your work, etc..
  • Unlimited likes – Profiles cap out at 5,000 friends. So if you get popular, you may have to go this route. Because there’s no limit to the number of people who can like your Page. Millions? Sure.

It took some time for me to warm up to the idea of authors creating their own Pages on Facebook, but now I think the idea has merit. Oh, and be advised that you can’t create a Facebook Page for yourself until you’ve made a Profile. So make one with the minimal amount of info, and then spend your time on your Facebook Page!

On Google+, Authors need Google+ Profiles (not Google+ Pages)

Google+ is an “identity service“. I didn’t call it that. Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt, did. Even though they’ve recently released Google+ Pages for business… those pages really aren’t designed for actual people. Where the benefits of Facebook Pages led the prior list, the reasons authors should choose Google+ Profiles over Pages are largely negative. Things like:

  • G+ Pages can’t circle Profiles – A Page can circle all the other Pages it likes, but a Page can only circle-back Profiles. It’s very difficult for content to  get shared beyond those who already have it circled. With a Profile, you can circle as many (up to 5000) Profiles and/or Pages as you like. Your action of circling probably notifies the other Profile/Page. They might circle you back.
  • G+ Pages can’t share un-circled content – If you made an outstanding post on Google+ about digital publishing, I’m physically unable to share that information on the ePublish Unum Google+ Page unless you’ve already circled us. Sharing of content is baked in nicely to Google+ and a great way to build engagement. But Pages are rather stymied from this action.
  • G+ Pages can’t make un-circled comments – Track all the hashtags you want to find great content where you’d like to engage. Your Page cannot reply unless the person who made the post has your Page it their circle. But with a Profile, you can comment on (just about) any post. A great way to show your expertise!
  • G+ Pages have Hangout limitations – Hangouts are one of the coolest features on Google+ right now, and a huge differentiator for them. But Profiles have more options than Pages on Hangouts, like sharing documents. And (as far as I understand it currently) On Air Hangouts, which combines the multi-user video chat with a YouTube-esque broadcast. Pages don’t come with those options. Score one more for a Profile.
  • G+ Pages have limited biographical data – With a G+ Page, a single “Introduction” text box exists. But a Profile gets a lot more personal. Your full CV. Where you’ve lived. Bragging rights, even! Sure, you can put most of this in the Intro section of a Page, but it feels a lot less like a person than a… business. Yes, your business is being an author. But you’re a person first. At least on Google+.

Even with all that, there are some excellent opportunities G+ Pages provide authors. Like creating Pages for your books or characters. That’s something you really can’t do on Facebook. And you probably wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) want to. More about those opportunities later.

Bottom line

I like Facebook. I like Google+. And I’d love it if every author really embraced both platforms. Maybe that will come with time, but time is something precious to most authors. I’m hopeful that these tips will steer you, the reluctant author, in the right direction when you decide to make the investment in time on one or both of these social channels. It’ll pay off. Promise.

Ready for more?

Jeff and I are proud to be presenting at the Indie Author Publishing Conference in Phoenix on February 25th. If you register now, you’ll save $15. Take a look at the planned content and see if it’s for you. If so, be sure and say hi to us when you see us, OK? And ask lots of questions. We’re here to help!

  • Youseph Tanha

    Thanks for a great post. I have been trying to build my Facebook page for the last 24 hours but their seems to be an error with Facebooks site. Not sure if it is that or maybe the link you supplied is just not working correctly. What do you think?

  • Evo Terra

    Well, I’d be a little surprised if the Facebook site was in error for 24 hours.

    But the link in question shows you Facebook Pages. To create one, click the very large “Create a page” button on the upper right-hand side.

    If you’re encountering issues during that process, I’d love to know about it. And you probably should report the error to Facebook. At the rate new pages get created, I doubt the problem is systemic. But hey, you never know…

    • Youseph Tanha

      I continue to get the same facebook error.

      “Sorry, something went wrong.
      We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can.”

      I have tried multipul browsers and I get the same results. I have no submitted the issue to facebook. Will see if anything comes of it.

  • Evo Terra

    Very strange, Youseph. I’m able to access when logged in and when not. Sorry you’re having trouble.

    • Youseph Tanha

      It’s not your fault. Just find it funny I can’t create a page. I will keep you posted should I find anything out from facebook support.

      • Youseph Tanha

        So It turns out you have to have a “normal” facebook account before you can create a page. I didn’t. I was trying to avoid that.

  • Evo Terra

    Heh. You missed this part from the post above, I take it:

    ” Oh, and be advised that you can’t create a Facebook Page for yourself until you’ve made a Profile.”

    • Youseph Tanha

      Yeah, I did. Got to love it.

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  • Dr. Janet Civitelli

    Thank you for sorting out the bewildering mix of social media options – this helps a lot.

    • Jeff Moriarty

      You’re quite welcome, Janet! If you have any specific questions, let us know.