Monday, April 22, 2013

Facing up Facebook: Promotional Hurdles

If you have Facebook author/musician/artist page, you probably know that Facebook has gone to great lengths to limit the range of your posts. This is especially the case when you include or share any links, both inside Facebook and outside.

Example: On my author page I like to share various posts and spotlight other authors and artists. A share of a writers poem received 44 views. A share of an editor's services netted 33 views. A spotlight link of another author received a meager 19 views. On the upside, a share of a story on Wattpad netted 50 views.

Compare that to posts where I shared text only -status updates, in other words. 117 views. 110 views. And one about seeing the Oblivion movie that netted 168 views. (Pay me, Tom Cruise)

It's quite obvious that Facebook doesn't want us to share links. That stinks of advertising, which in their eyes means that every shared link represents potential advertising profit going down the drain. That's why they've rolled out the 'promote your links' option that I've been ignoring. Want more views? Then pay for it like you're a major advertiser. Because Facebook needs the money, right?

Despite how evil that is, it only makes sense. You can look for similar actions being taken across popular social networks everywhere in the near future. Why let people advertise their work for free using your network as the medium? I don't think they care so much about small fries like me, but there's probably some major money being saved by larger businesses who have been using Facebook, Twitter, and the like as their major source of advertising. And like everything else, the little guy suffers along with everyone else. Frankly, I'm surprised it took Facebook this long to wise up.

In light of this, I tried a viral marketing experiment a few days ago. Since you can get the most views on text posts and uploaded pictures, I uploaded a picture... advertisement.

I created a simple ad for my novel series, and posted it on my author page with this simple text statement: An experiment in viral marketing. You can help by taking three simple steps. 1: Like this post. 2: Share this on your page. 3: Leave a link to your own author/artist/musician page in the comments. If successful, I'll do this again next week featuring one of you. Thank you!

I created the post on Friday. Today (Monday) I checked the numbers. The post was shared 14 times, liked 40 times... and seen by a whopping 414 people. 

Understand that I'm a small time operator who just reached 500 likes. I'm not a math wiz, either -so you'll have to do the appropriate calculation for your own page and audience. But the point is that a simple shared ad increased my average likes by 300 percent or greater depending on which numbers you run it by. And obviously there were more likes than shares, which shows that not everyone participated all the way, which is the way these things go. 

So is this the answer to overcome Facebook's advertising hurdle? Probably not. Unlike a direct link, someone would have to actually note the website location and type it in in order to go the the page that I advertised. In this age that's more work than a lot of people are willing to go through. But it does show that there are ways to find a loophole in the barriers that Facebook has tried to slam into place. I plan on using this option periodically to highlight authors and others that I find of interest and interact with, as well as the occasional ad for myself as well. 

Like all things, take this with a grain of salt. Your own experiences may produce different results. But hopefully it demonstrates a way to help you get across to your fans, customers and followers in a more productive way.