Posted on 2014-Jul-02
Facebook Not What it Used to Be
Despite hipster naysaying and a creepy psychological experiment conducted in 2012, Facebook remains the number one social network around the world by far. No other platform even comes close. Businesses can also use Facebook to their advantage and indie authors have used Facebook for several years to connect with fans, organize contests, and announce their latest releases. As an example, the 12 Days of Christmas Giveway, organized in 2013 by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde was a huge success and had thousands of readers participating.
However, earlier this year Facebook changed the way of how posts on Pages would show up in followers’ newsfeeds. For an author, this change made it much more unlikely that your followers would see your posts on your own Page if you were trying to promote your books. Rather, more paid ads were showing up in users’ newsfeeds. You may ask why not just pay for advertising on Facebook? Unfortunately, we have heard some very negative feedback from authors who paid for advertising on Facebook resulting in almost no new sales and lost money. To see what ads show up on Facebook, you just need to look. Below is an example of my newsfeed:
My interests on Facebook are family and friends plus military-related humor and news. I also am friends with a lot of authors and like a lot of their fan pages (not for creepy purposes, I just want to be friendly). So why am I seeing all these ads in Thai on my newsfeed about scaffolding (I think) in my news feed? I don’t even know what’s on the right in the normal ad section... something about a credit card I believe. Even though I live in Bangkok and as embarrassing as it is, I can only read Thai very slowly and I rarely type in Thai on my Facebook posts. These ads are costing someone money and they are making no impression on me. If anything it only makes me shun their products more. The algorithms don’t seem that sophisticated compared to the way Google does their ads. For authors, there has to be a better way to connect with readers.
Booktropolous: A New Way
Booktropolous is a new social network that has a Facebook-like interface: likes, photo sharing, status updates, etc. It is completely free to promote on and it is strictly intended for authors and readers. We first heard about it from one of our clients who we very much respect for her marketing and promotional prowess. When we signed up for an account two weeks ago, the platform was still a bit buggy, but most of the bugs have been ironed out day-by-day. Impressively, it now boasts over 5,000 members... not bad! It seems to have grown so exponentially via word of mouth in the indie author community.
It contains all the good parts of Facebook without the BS including:
- Ability to create a page that people like (the updates will actually show up in the user’s newsfeed!)
- Ability to organize events
- Ability to build a network of friends
It also has some fun stuff that Facebook doesn’t have like Feature My Book. For our business, it’s great because we were allowed to make a listing under the Formatting Services section. Right now we’re the only company listed as providing formatting—a businessman’s dream (don’t forget to give us a review!)
Some Improvements Needed, but a Great Start
Booktropolous definitely has potential; however, at the moment it seems like most of the members are authors. For this social network to work well, more readers will need to join the fray and be engaged. As most veteran authors know, it’s much better to spend your time talking with readers than fellow authors. Although indie authors, particularly romance authors, are very savvy at enticing and corralling their fans, so expect more readers to join Booktropolous as the weeks go on.
One note of concern is a technical one. The way Booktropolous handles URLs is not search engine friendly and reminds me of a PHP-based forum from the late 90s. SEO is absolutely critical to any small business (authors included) and I humbly believe is one of the most undervalued success factors in the indie author community. Hopefully Booktropolous will resolve this before they get too big to make major adjustments to their architecture.
Sign up for an account at Booktropolous and don’t forget to friend us (we’re under “Paul Salvette”).
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