Thursday, March 20, 2014

Harmony Evans - Facebook: Friend or Foe of Authors?

Happy March! The snow has finally melted here in Cleveland, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to last. No matter where you live, change is something you can count on with weather. The same could be said for Facebook.

This month, I’d like to update you on a recent change that occurred at the world’s most popular social networking platform, besides the recently announced news feed design update.

Part of my day gig responsibilities is managing the Facebook page for a consumer brand. Over the past few months, I noticed a significant drop in likes and engagement, especially when I post a photo. What’s going on, I wondered? I was posting regularly based on the editorial calendar for this particular brand. Was I doing something wrong?

As it turned out, Facebook had changed their algorithms... again. But hold on. This wasn’t a simple change of code, which happens frequently and is often unannounced. It goes deeper. What’s happened is that Facebook has gently urged (ahem: forced) brands to stop thinking about and using them as a free marketing platform. In fact, they want brands to make use of their sponsored advertising opportunities to hawk products and services. It’s how Facebook makes money.

In the past, Facebook has stayed pretty quiet about their advertising model. But since going public in 2012, they’re focusing hard on driving revenue. After all, they have to answer to shareholders now.

So why should you care? Why should you even bother paying attention to what Facebook does…or is planning to do in the future?

Well if you’re a writer and you have a Facebook page, this change affects you too. It doesn’t matter that you’re not located on Madison Avenue or that you don’t have a multimillion dollar advertising budget. Facebook considers ANY Page to be a Brand. So if you’re an author, you better believe that includes your page too!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hater. I like Facebook and I think it can be useful for promotion, but gone are the days where we can promote our books on our timelines and expect to get great results. Facebook expects us to pay to use their platform and since they control the code, they control the results.

But here’s the rub. If you pony up a few dollars to pay for a sponsored post or an ad, there’s real danger that the fans you get aren’t “true” fans. Don’t believe me? Before you spend a dime on Facebook, I urge you to get comfortable and watch this video. Trust me. It’s worth the 9 minutes.  

“Paying” for fans is nothing unusual. Brands have been doing it for years. Rihanna reportedly did it. So did David Cameron. Prince is actually suing his Facebook fans.

But ask yourself this question: If you buy a fan on Facebook, how do you know 1) that they are “real” reader and/or 2) that they aren’t the result of a spammy click farm?

I get it. Facebook needs to make money to stay in business. Still, the platform could be going into panic mode. Why? According to this article, they’re going to lose 80% of their audience by 2017. Will this be the result of users getting turned off from the constant stream of sponsored posts and ads showing up in our timelines? Some of which are from authors who are honestly not trying to spam, but are simply trying to get the word out about their books.

Time will tell.

But the way it looks now – Facebook is a friend to no one but themselves.

What about you? Do you advertise on Facebook and what has been your experiences?


Author Harmony Evans' latest Harlequin Kimani Romances are LOVING LANEY (June) and WHEN MORNING COMES (July). She has over 15 years of digital marketing experience. She'll be giving a workshop on Internet Marketing 101 for Authors on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. over at Savvy Authors. Get details on how to register and participate.Visit www.harmonyevans.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment