Build an Impressive Social Networking Presence
by Deltina Hay
Social and professional networking sites like LinkedIn, Shelfari, Squidoo, and Facebook can be effective outlets for finding new readers; but with so many to choose from, it is easy to find your message spread thin. Businesses sometimes settle for building sparse profiles on many different sites, never discovering the other powerful marketing tools many of these social networking platforms have to offer—most of them for free.
To avoid falling into this trap, choose one or two social networking sites you think will be a good fit for your books and invest the time to make your presence in them as significant as possible.
Let’s look at what might be involved if one of your choices is Facebook.
Start with a Worksheet
Arm yourself with your best information before you do anything else. One way to avoid the “I will fill that in later” trap is to have the necessary information on hand, ready to copy and paste on the spot, by completing a worksheet containing the following:
Key terms. Start with a list of your best key terms so you can weave them into the rest of your worksheet items (key terms being those one-, two-, or three-word terms that people would be likely to use as search terms if they were searching for your business or book).
business or book name
instant messaging screen names
Biographical and descriptive information
short author bio and/or company CEO bio (50 words)
longer author bio and/or company CEO bio (100 words)
short book and/or short company description (50 words)
longer book and/or short company description (100 words)
business mission statement
list of books
list of other relevant products
Note: I based these worksheet items on building a profile and a page in Facebook. If you choose a different social networking site, look at some completed profiles there when you’re choosing worksheet items.
Produce a Thorough Profile
If you don’t already have a Facebook account, your next step is to get one. Once you have your account, fill out your profile completely, using your worksheet. Under the relationships tab, choose “networking.” I typically skip the personal and education tabs for business profiles, but there is no harm in filling those sections out too.
If you have an existing account, take the time to improve your profile information by using your key-term-spiked worksheet.
But don’t stop there!
Jump on Marketing Opportunities
Facebook, like most of the good social networking platforms, offers many marketing opportunities for businesses—some free, some not. You can find all these opportunities by clicking the Advertising link in the footer of the Facebook site, or by going to facebook.com/business.
Because I can’t cover all these marketing tools in one article, I will focus on my personal favorite: the Facebook Page, which is not only free, but also makes use of the many diverse Facebook applications.
Facebook pages are designed specifically for marketing a business or product. They let a business represent itself to the Facebook community in an authentic way, and Facebook users can search pages for companies and products the same way they search for people within the network community.
Create your page by going to Page Manager in the left sidebar of your Facebook profile, or by going to facebook.com/business and choosing Facebook Pages. Choose the best category for your business or book. As a publisher, you may want to consider creating a main page for your publishing company and individual pages for each of your titles or authors.
As far as I can tell, the only text on a Facebook page that is used in a search is the actual name of the page. With that in mind, be sure to use at least two of your best key terms in each page name.
Pull information from your worksheet to populate your page. You may have only a few seconds to get a reader’s attention, so, again, put your best key terms forward.
Once your page is in place, you can start adding applications to help represent your company and your books in your own unique way. To find applications to add to a page, click on Applications in its upper left corner, or search for them at facebook.com/apps.
Applications are not difficult to install and are usually very easy to set up. A general rule of thumb when choosing an application is: If you can’t figure out how to set it up after the second try, find another one. Often, more than one application out there will accomplish any given task.
Here are two screen shots from my company’s Facebook page (facebook.com/pages/Dalton-Publishing/9792568507).
[insert screen shots]
On this Facebook page, we utilized the following applications:
Book Share Books (apps.facebook.com/bookshare). This application lets readers share their favorite books with their friends, as well as rate them and comment on them. It is a perfect application for a publishing company wanting to showcase its books.
My Flickr (apps.facebook.com/myflickr). You can display photos from your Flickr account using this application. These photos can include logos, book covers, pictures taken at author events, and more. You get many options of how to display the photos, too.
Upcoming (apps.facebook.com/upcoming). When you add all your events to Upcoming.org, you can easily display them on your Facebook page with Upcoming’s Facebook application.
YouTube box (apps.facebook.com/videobox). An application that allows visitors to play your YouTube videos right on your Facebook page; this one is handy for book trailers or promotional videos.
Simply RSS (apps.facebook.com/simplyrss). A nice way to display as many as eight RSS feeds on your Facebook page, and, as you can see, a convenient way for us to display the feeds from our main site, as well as to our authors’ newsrooms.
By implementing these applications, we created an interactive page that also gives visitors a look into our business. You will likely find many applications that can do the same for your business. And when you find you are using a particular application regularly, consider donating to the application creator—they do not get paid to develop these applications.
Promoting Your Social Networking Presence
Once you have invested the time in creating an impressive presence on Facebook (and/or other social networks), go the extra mile and research the ways you can promote your new presence both inside and outside the network.
Here is a link to Facebook’s promotional guidelines: facebook.com/pages/manage/promo_guidelines.php.
Of course, it goes without saying that you will also invite everyone on your mailing lists to join your network, and to visit your sharp new page!
It’s important not to turn your back on your investment. Because the social Web is a fickle place, you will need to keep your content dynamic and interesting to encourage people to return to your page, or to recommend it to their friends. Do this, and you will see better results than those who just move on to building their next profile. Once you have a good, healthy presence in place in one community, you can use your experience to move on successfully.
Deltina Hay is the principal of both Dalton Publishing and Social Media Power. She recently released “A Step-by-Step Guide to Social Media Marketing and Web 2.0 Optimization,” a 60-page, interactive social media strategy packed with links and examples, available at socialmediapower.com, Amazon.com, and MobiPocket.com. The print version will be out this fall from Wiggy Press.