If you’ve opened a Facebook account, what you’ve got is a profile. One of the first things to consider is if you wish to add a page or even pages as well.
If you’re already overwhelmed about adding Facebook to your social media basket, and you don’t have an existing personal Facebook account that you wish to keep separate, Teymour Shahabi recommends just using your profile (http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2015/how-to-best-use-facebook-as-an-author/). Facebook expert Lisa Hall-Wilson also uses only a personal profile. She points out that a profile is best used to make connections and build a tribe (http://jamigold.com/2013/03/facebook-should-we-use-a-profile-or-a-page/).
That’s because you need a profile to like people and Facebook posts. I wish I’d known this at the beginning. A social media consultant walked me through setting up an author page, and I tried to use it to like and follow other Facebook accounts. I couldn’t do it. That’s something that can only be done from your profile. I tried and tried to use only my author page, since that was the important thing for me. But Facebook makes you interact from your profile.
Joining a writer’s group? You post from your profile. Do you want to chat with someone? That also happens from your profile. Other people can write on your profile. Posts from other Facebook friends end up on your profile, too. They end up being somewhat informal, just by their very nature.
A page is different. This is a place where info is posted only by you. You speak and others listen. I use my Facebook page for one simple thing. All my blog posts automatically display there. From my Facebook page, they are then automatically tweeted. It’s a great way to get more exposure for very little effort. I have to do nothing to maintain it. Everything just happens, now that I’ve got it set up.
This is all I’ve done with my Facebook page, and I still get as many or more referrals from Facebook as I do from Twitter, depending on my Twitter activity level. Also, information on Facebook pages gets better ranking from search engines than profiles do. I don’t know how your blog stats run, but for me, referrals from search engines outperform everything else. For example, as of this posting for the year to date, I have 1,377 referrals from search engines, 303 from the WordPress reader, 73 from Pinterest, 51 from Facebook, 38 from Absolute Write, and 27 from Twitter. Anything that increases my search engine referrals gets top priority.
Facebook pages are public, and you don’t have to be a friend to like the page if follow is turned on. (To check this, go to https://www.facebook.com/about/follow. It will tell you if you don’t have follow activated. Click the link that says edit settings to change this.) Pages can also be accessed by people who aren’t on Facebook. Say that someone gets a hold of one of my blog posts on my Facebook page, but they don’t have a Facebook account. That’s fine–they don’t need one to see a page. A profile won’t display unless you’re logged on to your Facebook account.
It’s also against Facebook’s terms of service to sell anything (including books) from a profile (http://writersrelief.com/blog/2011/08/facebook-fan-pages-vs-profile-pages-writer/). This probably doesn’t matter much, since according to several sources, Facebook isn’t very good at selling anything. Both profiles and pages can send people back to your blog. But I thought it was worth mentioning.
Pages allow you to add apps to gather email addresses and run contests. Both of these are prohibited on profiles. I run my email list from my blog, and if I ever have contests, I’ll do that from my blog as well. But people have done both successfully from Facebook pages.
Nathan Bransford even recommends having multiple Facebook pages (http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/02/facebook-for-authors-how-to-get-started.html). He argues that if your book ever becomes very popular, pages for your books will happen anyway, and you want your book titles and characters under your control. But that doesn’t fluster me much. Maybe they’ll invite me to make a cameo appearance on the Hans and Greta page if I ever make it big. I’m fine with that. I’ve got to have some time left over to write. I like my single page on automatic.
Also, if you want to have a WordPress widget to display Facebook, it only displays pages. If you want to add a Facebook widget like I’ve got in my sidebar, go to WP Admin–Appearance–Widgets. Choose the Facebook Page Plug-in from the Available Widgets menu. Just drag it into place on your sidebar and type in your Facebook page URL. Don’t forget to save it.
A final grace note I’ll add to this process is to pick a different image for your profile and your page, or if you’re like me, you’ll lose track of which one you’re in. For my profile, I use my author photo that I’ve got on my About Me blog page. For my author page, I use my Red Riding Hood avatar that shows up on other people’s blog posts.
But if you don’t have two images to use, or maybe you’re just camera shy, you can also create a cartoon avatar for free (avachara.com/avatar/). You can see mine, and it worked fine for a while, but I decided that developing image recognition for two images was a big enough task.
It all sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. I don’t spend much time on Facebook at all. I’ll have more on automating your page and using your profile in later posts.