4 Ways Authors Need to Prepare For and Adapt To Facebook Timeline

Fake Protest Part Deux 2011 by Sheila Dee

Fake Protest Part Deux 2011 by Sheila Dee

I’m stealing a page — literally — from Jay Baer. Luckily, he’s a friend and will probably forgive the intrusion or be flattered by the mimicry. On Sunday, he published 14 Ways Facebook Betrays Small Businesses. His post is less scathing than it sounds, but it is a warning cry. I’m taking his post as inspiration, giving you the 4 Ways Authors Need to Prepare For and Adapt To Facebook Timeline.

First of all, the info below applies to those authors who’ve opted to engage on Facebook with a Page, not a Profile. As we have discussed before, authors reluctant to join the social space of Facebook may be better off with a Page. And if you’re one of those who took my advice from months back; sorry. Your world just changed. Here’s how:

  1. Cover image
    You need one. Not just a nice profile image. But a gigantic, 850×315 pixel shot that shows you at your best as an author. What, you don’t have one of those? Well… tough. Get one. Maybe from a signing you did. Or make a collage of your book covers. Whatever it is, it needs to look great. And it needs to be 850 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. And don’t make is salesy: Facebook has prohibited including things like your website, price-points for your books, or any sort of call-to-action. It’s intended to be an image that represents you as a brand. Leave it that way.
  2. Pin, for the win!
    The new vertical timeline flow is a little strange, and looks totally different from the “wall” you’re probably used to seeing. One of the neat things you can do with your timeline is highlight a post. It takes up twice the space of anything else posted, making a very clear landmark. Use this for the dates when your books were published, or any other major milestones in your career as an author. Pinning is something special that moves a post to the top of the page. This is only for serious stuff, and anything pinned goes back to its normal timeline position after 7 days.
  3. Be on the lookout for Direct Messages
    People (and by that I mean Profiles) can now send direct messages to brands (and by that I mean Pages). So a “fan” could send you a direct message and expect a response from you. Yikes! Couple that with the fact that Facebook’s notifications of these events to Pages currently is less-than-optimal, and it means regular policing of these messages so you don’t look like you’re ignoring your fans. I anticipate Facebook will provide a fix for this soon, so that you are notified when someone sends a DM to your Page. But for now, that doesn’t happen. Check your Page at least daily for new messages. And don’t trust Facebook’s built-in notification system. Log into Facebook. Select your page. Visit the Admin panel. And _then_ check for new messages. Don’t leave your fans hanging!
  4. Be active!
    Activity now displays for every page to anyone who happens to look. Fans can see how many of their friends like your Page, and have easy access to how often you’ve been engaging. Or not. This means you have to be posting often — daily is good — to make sure that you have solid engagement. If not, the page may look abandoned. And who wants to fan a page that isn’t interacting? Answer: few.

So take note, authors. Facebook has changed the game. They will again. And so will the other social properties in which you engage. Or should be engaging. They don’t do this to penalize you. They do it to benefit them. And as long as their users see benefits as well, they’ll continue to do so. So stop lamenting. Stop pining for stability and uniformity. Embrace change, for it is the only constant in this world.

And go get your Facebook Page set up for Timeline. You have until the end of the month. Then Facebook is gonna do it for you.