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So, we all have heard at some point that we need to join Facebook. I’ve resisted for years, but after hearing the same advice from different sources I trust in the same week, I decided to finally create my Facebook profile (you need one if you want an author page). I did this in the last week of March, BTW.

You’re supposed to set up your profile properly (birthdate, favourite books, a couple of photos, a cover photo, bio, social media links, etc.). I wasn’t nearly done, when suddenly I was locked out of my newly created account. I had to verify my identity by sending them a clear photo of my face.

Twenty-four hours later I tried logging in. I was still locked out. Why did they lock it? “Suspicious activity.” Really? Creating an account and answering their questions is “suspicious activity”?

Thirty-six hours later when I tried to log on again, I got a notice that my account has been disabled. Why? Because either I was using a fake name (really?) or impersonating someone (myself?). The appeal was denied (you have to send a copy of your ID). [Let’s not get into how my driver’s licence photo looks different every five years, and my ID photo from half a lifetime ago even more so.]

It just reaffirmed why I never wanted to be on this particular social network in the first place. I did exactly what was asked of me and I got treated like a criminal. Note: not one of the other social media platforms had ever treated me like this. So why would I want to do business with one that does?

I hate to say “I told you so”, but… *Shrugs.*

Let’s first look at why you need a Facebook account as an author:

  • To join writing and publishing groups (like the Alliance of Independent Authors).
  • To have a presence on Facebook (even if you only update your feed with your newest blog posts, like I do on Google+).
  • To be able to run Facebook Ads (which can apparently do your book sales a world of good).

From anecdotes I’ve heard at most writing events I’ve attended, having a personal Facebook account is like inviting people to take over your space and complain about whatever they want to complain about. I’ve read the same thing online on the blogs of friends from all over the globe.

Still I listened to well-meant advice and tried to create an account… Silly me for going against my instincts.

Of course one should join as many author groups that can help you as possible – especially when you’re Indie. But why are some of them only on Facebook? With the Author Toolbox Blog Hop we share our knowledge and experience on our blogs – an open platform. With the Insecure Writer’s Support Group you can join them on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, their blog and your own blog (once a month). There are even groups that have created their own closed forums (like Kristen Lamb’s WANA tribe.)

And if you really want to keep up with someone’s writing/blogging/life events, you can sign up for their email newsletter (or just stay in touch!).

You want a presence on Facebook? According to the new algorithm changes, there’s no more place for organic growth. Which means that your followers will only see a fraction of what you post in their own newsfeeds.

There are so many places where you can set up your author bio and links (Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, Amazon, your blog/website), that it isn’t make or break to have a Facebook profile or page.

As for Facebook Ads? Here’s what the experts have to say about them.

So it can work… if done right. But there are other places you can place ads for your books as well. Check out your favourite social media network to see how it works there.

Why, after all this, do I still think Facebook isn’t for me?

Besides the obvious where they treated me like a criminal – I’m South African and very used to that type of attitude from strangers, but won’t tolerate it from someone I was planning to do business with (Facebook Ads are expensive – convert those Dollars to Rands on Google and decide for yourself what kind of nonsense a starving artist should put up with or not).

Enough of my horrid experience.

Now for why I gritted my teeth and didn’t send the Wild Hunt after them.

My target audience: teenagers and Varsity students. All, who according to the articles below, believe that Facebook is for “old people”.

So my profile, page and ads would’ve done diddly-squat to up sales.

And to make me feel even better:

According to the forums I read, trying to figure out what the photo verification was all about, a lot of people got locked out of their accounts (some have had them for years) and even had their accounts disabled “for not being real people”. All of them, even the ones who got their accounts back, are fed up with Facebook.

And we all know what happens when you are fed up with a service provider…

Also, according to the articles below, Facebook isn’t going to be around for much longer due to the way they treat people, the recent privacy policy scandal (and lots of privacy concerns), their change in algorithms and because teenagers think it’s for old people.

Now that’s a business lesson: treat your customers like criminals/idiots/disposable numbers and they won’t return to do business with you ever again, leaving your business on a downward spiral.

Extra reading (mostly from Jane Friedman’s blog):

It took me a while to get the necessary links – but they’re quite informative and I feel a lot better knowing that not being able to join Facebook won’t be detrimental to my writing career. There’s always a bigger fish 😉 What has your experience been with Facebook? Do you think it’s going to go the same way as MySpace? Which social media network is your favourite? Where do you fans “live” online?

*This was a post for the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. Check out the participants and rules here.

*Disclaimer: I hold no responsibility for the views in the articles linked. They’re just included so you understand what I learned online and where the information came from.

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