Facebook has emerged as a driving strategic tool for authors to use in marketing and promoting their own book or books. This platform is free in terms of initial investment, but very expensive in terms of time. An author, or any other business person for that matter, can make costly errors in setting up and using their Facebook presence IF they do not understand the nuances of Facebook. Here are my top recommendations for authors, speakers, solopreneurs and other business people to consider as they prepare to enter the social media fray.

Facebook is effectively, in addition to being a micro-blogging and communication platform, a search engine. One of the reasons an author needs to be on Facebook is to increase his or her visibility and therefore, help readers find his/her work. Facebook provides three different types of pages to choose from and each has rules, advantages and disadvantages.

Personal Profile
A personal profile is, by Facebook’s own terms of use, a page for people to list themselves by their real name and interact with friends of their choosing. People who connect to a personal profile are referred to as “Friends.” It is against Facebook’s rules to set up a personal profile for your business, your book, your dog or a dead saint. Facebook can, if it chooses, close fraudulent profiles and all the work you’ve done to create that page will be lost along with all of your friends. I recommend that you set up a personal profile, adhering to all of the rules before setting up a Facebook Fan Page (see below). Having a personal profile and setting up a Facebook page from that profile will allow authors to utilize more custom application on the Fan Page. A Fan Page can be created without first creating a personal profile, but doing so limits the customization options available. If the Facebook rules don’t convince you to do this properly, there’s another good reason. A personal profile can only accept 5,000 people as friends. At 5,001, new friends will start receiving a message from Facebook stating that you are over your friend limit and cannot accept any new friends. Trust me and set up your personal profile first.

Facebook Fan Page

Fan Pages are best option that Facebook provides for creating a branded social media presence for you the writer.

This is best option that Facebook provides for creating a branded social media presence for you the writer, for your book, and for your career. People who connect to a Facebook Fan Page must click the “Like” button in order to receive updates from the Page. Once they “Like” a page, they are still referred to by most people as Fans. Because you followed my advice and set up a personal profile first, you can now create custom tabs for your Facebook Fan Page such as “About the Book,” “More about the Author,” “Tour Schedule,” or whatever custom information you’d like to make available to fans. Facebook allows a Fan Page to have an unlimited number of Fans. This is good news for an author or speaker who is working to amass the largest possible list of followers and spread the word about a new book, appearance or project far and wide. Authors can even create an opt-in box and invite fans to subscribe to an e-newsletter, all from a Facebook Fan Page. Facebook Fan Pages are indexed by Google and therefore, they increase an author’s search engine ranking by putting out new, original content regularly.

Facebook Groups
People who join a Facebook Group are called Members. One advantage of Facebook Groups is that they can be made public or kept private. At this writing Facebook Groups are not indexed by Google and that is the single biggest reason for author’s to create a Fan Page over a Group. Unlike pages, groups allow to send out “bulk invites” so you can invite all your friends to join the group. With Pages, you’ll have to invite people individually. Groups are good for spreading a message or brand name through viral marketing, because any group member can also send bulk invites to his or her complete list of friends. But, and this is a big but, Groups are not indexed by search engines yet and that is my number one reason for recommending Pages over Groups to promote an author and his or her work.

I hope this look at Facebook options helps authors, speakers and entrepreneurs start right and maximize their promotional efforts on Facebook. I strongly recommend that all authors create profiles and pages for their work and look forward to answering any questions about the use of Facebook to promote books.