Authors have grown frustrated with the changing nature of Facebook Pages, mostly driven by changes in the algorithm and are looking for a better option for engaging their readers. Enter: the Facebook Group—a platform that seemingly side-steps the Facebook Page’s downfalls. It’s true: some authors have massive success creating reader groups that engage their readers in conversations. But is the Facebook Group the messiah in a time of social media book marketing strife? Should all authors abandon their Facebook Pages and join the mass exodus to Groups? Don’t jump ship so fast; I’ll be reviewing both the good and the bad of Facebook Groups in terms of book marketing.
The number one gripe with Facebook Pages is that only a small percentage of people who “like” the page end up seeing the posts. Though it is an option to turn on notifications for a Page (and I highly suggest you encourage your followers to do so) it is not the default. Facebook Group’s default is that if you join a Group that you’re notified every time a post is made. This immediately gets more eyes on your content and ensures that the people who have chosen to follow you are actually seeing your posts.
A stark difference I see on your average author Facebook Page vs your average author reader Group—and I look at these all day long— is that with an author Facebook Page there tends to be mainly one-way communication from the author to the reader. The best Pages create a conversation between the reader and the author, but they almost never foster reader-to-reader communication. In a Facebook Group, any member can post on the page, and anybody can respond to this post. Groups can serve as a platform for readers to forge bonds with each other, growing community engagement and providing the backbone for many authors’ book sales.
No Ads or Promoted Posts
The biggest downfall of Facebook Groups is they are not optimized for marketing or sales. Facebook Pages give you the ability to promote your posts and run Facebook Ads, but Facebook Groups were not created as a tool for business. To quote Facebook itself “While Pages were designed to be the official profiles for entities, such as celebrities, brands or businesses, Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion.” Authors are in a unique position because they are selling a product that also serves as a common interest, which is why they can find success in both platforms. But by itself, the Facebook Group is weak as a business platform.
No Analytics Information
As a social media strategist, this is my biggest issue with Facebook Groups. Facebook Pages offer a host of information on how you’re posts are performing, your page growth, your audience’s demographics, basically anything an analyst needs to know. Facebook Groups provide none of that. When I go through and analyze a Facebook Group, I have to do so manually and even then I get a fraction of the information that I would if I was analyzing a page. This makes it harder to determine what posts are performing best so it is more difficult to form a fully informed social marketing strategy.
Too Much Posting Freedom
The downfall of members being able to make their own posts in the group is it in part leaves your brand in the hands of your readers. People posting in a reader group have their own motives for posting, outside of promoting your books. This means that you have to be very intentional about fostering the type of productive community that you want when making a reader group. I suggest you post often yourself to set the tone of the types of posts in the Group. Another thing I’ve seen is authors that create different reader groups for different purposes. For example, one author that I know has both a “reader group” and a “book discussion group”. The reader group is a place for readers to talk to each other about the daily happenings of their life, mainly non-book related, while the book discussion group is only for discussing the author’s books. When creating your groups, be clear about what the group is for in the description so your readers know the norms of the group.
Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of both the Facebook Group and the Facebook Page is the first step in creating a strategy that uses both to grow your online reader community. In most ways, their strengths complement each other, so if an author can find a place for both platforms in their social media strategy, they are able to harness the strengths of each.