Engaging Readers Through Facebook Part 1: Groups

Engaging Readers Through Facebook Part 1: Groups

We know that Facebook is one of the most important social media platforms for authors, but how do you make the most out of your time there? Promoting on social media and engaging with readers is essential, but it can be time-consuming, too. Thankfully, there are a few Facebook features you can use to your advantage. Top among them is the Facebook Group, a community building tool that’ll help you save time and build readership.

What is a Facebook Group and How to Set One Up

Once you have your Facebook profile set up, you can create a Group. Most authors will create a group to connect with their readers, and some will even go a step further and create special sub-groups for their advanced readers, beta-readers, or street teams.

Along the Facebook taskbar, you will see a “create” button. This button can be used to create pages, ad’s, events, fundraisers, or marketplace listings, and, of course, groups. The first step to creating your Group is to come up with a name. Readers want to be able to find their favorite authors quickly and easily, so the group name should be something unique to your brand and book(s). After you name your group, you need to add a few people and choose your privacy settings. There are three privacy options for groups -- public, secret, and closed.

Closed groups are the best option for authors because they can be easily found while also protecting the privacy of the members. A closed group can be found by searching Facebook, but only members of the group can see posts or see members in the group. If you choose to make your group closed, you will have the authority to change the settings to determine whether members or admins can approve posts and add new members. You will also need to fill out the group description and get some content ready to share!

What You Should Post in Your Reader Group

A reader group is for your readers to get to know you and your books. Your readers want to see teasers for your new releases, follow along with what you’re working on, and find out more about you. Image content receives high engagement, so consider creating graphics for your books, or sharing pictures of yourself and your process.

One thing authors must be careful of is the sharing of spoilers in their groups. Readers will want to talk about your books, but you must remember that not everyone in your group will have read all of them. You never want to have one of your stories unintentionally ruined for someone who hasn’t had the chance to read it yet. Setting up separate discussion groups for your books is the best option to combat this. Authors should also ensure their settings are enabled for admins of the group to have to approve all posts, this way nothing slips by.

While your reader group should be about your books, authors also need to make sure their groups don’t just become a place for buy links and sales. Engage with your readers by playing games, asking them questions about themselves, or getting feedback on your blurbs or covers. Making your reader feel valued and acknowledged is essential in creating a loyal fan base.

Learning and Using Group Analytics and Other Functions

One important function of your group is to make sure that your readers can connect with you through your pages. Linking your author page(s) to your group allows group members to see those pages, and lets you post as either your profile or your author page. Linking is especially useful for authors who use multiple pen names but only want to manage one group. You can also link your other groups to your reader group so that your readers can see those other groups (such as book discussion groups) and join them as well.

One of the most important functions to pay attention to in your group is the group insights tab. This tool will show you the analytics of your group, including where your members are from, who interacts the most, the popular interaction times, and the content that is getting the most engagement. You can use these insights to know when the best times to post are and to make a decision about the content you are creating.

Other functions authors need to know about include announcements and scheduling. Marking a post as an announcement pins the post to the top of the group page so that when members go to your group, those announcements are the first thing they see in the timeline. Announcements should be used for posts that are most important such as new releases links and giveaways.

Scheduling makes posting content to your group easy because you don’t have to be live to post. When you create a post in your group, there will be a clock button in the lower right corner of the post. You can choose a future date and time for your content to be posted. This is especially helpful if the times your group is most active you are not available. Through scheduled posts, you can engage with your group even when you are offline.

Other Ways To Use Your Group

Authors should be posting content relevant to their brand and books, but groups are also important networking tools. Inviting other authors to post in your group, going live to answer questions or read excerpts of your books, and hosting events can attract new readers from new places. Group takeovers are popular ways that authors can help each other with free marketing. When an author has a new release or another event they want to celebrate, they can invite other authors into their group to participate in an event. These events usually work by giving each author a set time to post in the group. These events can run anywhere from a few hours to all day or longer with authors taking over the group for anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour. Readers should be able to participate in games and win prizes as well as be presented with buy links and other content. Participating in takeovers is a great way to add new readers to your groups or gain followers on your other pages.

The most important thing to remember is that your group wants to engage with you. Recently, Facebook has made it so that group highlights are the automatic setting for readers to see posts. Remind your readers and group members to change their notification settings in your group’s taskbar so that they see all posts, not just highlights or posts from friends. This guarantees that the people in your group see your posts and can engage with the content.