We love Facebook. We hate Facebook. But these days, authors who don’t have a professional Facebook page are missing out on a huge traffic driver to their personal websites, and ultimately, to book sales. At the same time, the world’s ultimate online popularity contest makes buying exposure (called “Boosting,” like it’s nitrous oxide or heroin) feel like admitting defeat. Also, it’s expensive.
That’s where “buying organic” on Facebook comes in.
I developed this concept about a year ago; it actually comes from my day job, a significant part of which is all about growing the organization’s social media reach and communicating with fans, followers, employees and family members.
It seemed to me then, and still seems to me now, that the “Boost Post” option on Facebook, which takes you into the land of paid advertising, was taking the easy way out. I wondered: What if there was a way to attract Facebook fans with nearly the same results, without Facebook ads?
What Is “Buying Organic” on Facebook?
Essentially, you’re still going to spend a little bit of money and a bit of time if you’re going to try for organic Likes on your page (versus paid Likes). But the lasting benefit of buying organic is that not only are you attracting Likes, you’re also starting off new Likers with a foundation of engagement with your page.
Basically, you’re going to run a contest or giveaway that gives people entries if they Like and Share or Comment on a particular post, or series of posts.
Sample Strategies for Buying Organic Via Contests and Giveaways
If you’re thinking of running a Facebook Contest in which you exchange Likes and Shares for prizes like a gift card, or a copy of your latest book, this is a very effective way to begin.
I highly recommend that you pay attention to your own Facebook newsfeed to gather ideas about structure and marketing language. But here are a few basic steps for a basic Facebook contest:
1. Decide on your incentive, your time limit, your raffle method, and your goal.
2. Google the appropriate legal language (limiting your country of eligibility, your liability, etc.) and put it on your Clipboard.
3. Tease your campaign on Facebook the day before (e.g., “Check back on this page tomorrow for an AWESOME GIVEAWAY OF AWESOMOSITY.”)
4. Analyze the time in the AM hours when most of your readers are online using the Insights tab on your Facebook page’s Admin view.
5. Launch your Facebook contest (with appropriate legal language, and pictures of the item, picture of you holding the item, picture of your latest book cover, whatever). If you’ve asked for Likes and Shares, start keeping track (there is some work involved at this point). Keep posting and reposting the campaign throughout the duration of your contest. Track Likes and Shares on each post, to be fair.
6. If you’ve promised a prize to one lucky winner (or three, or five, or whatever), at the close of your contest, publicly announce them (tag them if necessary) and tell them to private message you or email you at a secure address. If you need their mailing address, you want to be careful to explain that you will not be selling or forwarding their contact information; only using it for the redemption of their prize. (This is why I recommend online prizes – people are much more willing to provide you their email addresses. Consider a redemption code for a copy of your book, or an online gift card that can be sent via email.)
7. Analyze your campaign posts’ reach, your expected spike in new page followers, and your engagement. Remember, you’ve outlaid some money, done a little bit of work to randomize your winners and contact them, and the reward is your newly revitalized stats and better engagement and more involved fans on future posts.
8. Repeat as necessary.
THAT’S buying organic on Facebook.
In my experience, you want to pick an incentive that agns with your audience and that also can be tied in to your brand. For example, a medieval fantasy author could give away a set of artisan-made Welsh dragon bookends; a romance author could give away a pass to a new romantic comedy that’s out in theaters, or a children’s author/illustrator culd give away a signed print. Keep it consistent.