Monday, December 8, 2014

Social Media Monday—How Facebook Changes for 2015 Could Affect Authors

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

NOTE: These changes are COMING, but aren't here yet.
Facebook is making some fairly major changes in 2015.

I know, you’re shocked.

Beyond that reaction, many want to know how these Facebook changes could affect Authors. 

Truthfully, this time the changes aren’t just an inconvenience. These changes are going to cost money—serious money. Those in the know have been warning that Facebook was going to have to make some changes and monetize the site to keep shareholders satisfied. 

Here’s how it started:
They began the process with business pages. They rolled out the edgerank algorithm and limited the number of followers who see any given post.

Then, at almost the same time, they began offering the option of paying to boost a post. This allowed significantly more followers to see the specific post.

In 2015, they are about to charge businesses a monthly fee to advertise on Facebook through business pages.

There will be a tiered program of set monthly charges rolled out in early next year.

That may not seem like it affects many people, but it does. Facebook is the one who decides what is classified as advertising and what isn’t. They will have very specific guidelines for what constitutes advertising.

Here’s what it includes for writers and authors:
  • Updates about a new book release.
  • Updates about a book launch and/or event.
  • Updates about Rafflecopter and other giveaways.
Here’s what it includes for conferences, writers groups, ministries etc:
  • Updates that include dates and/or registration information.
  • Updates about joining groups, amount of dues, etc.
Here's what's not—for the moment—being considered advertising:
  • Updates about blogging articles that interest you and your connections.
  • Updates that pose questions.
  • Updates that share quotes.
  • Updates that share cartoons and memes.
  • Updates that ask for opinions. (This one may be cloudy, especially if the opinion solicited is in regard to a book cover. I just don't know.)
I don't know which side (advertising or just social) sharing updates about someone else's book will fall. I suspect that at this point, they don't either. 

The good news with this is small, but there is some:
  • Facebook is beginning this process with brick and mortar businesses not individual accounts.
  • Certified notification will be given if an account is found in violation of the new advertising guidelines.
  • At this point, there is no retroactive billing.
And since I’ve already ruined your day, here’s something else to put on your radar.

More Bad News:
Google is looking at instituting the same restructuring. They are farther back, but the changes are in the works, so get ready.

No, I don’t yet know how this will affect Blogger and Google Plus. But I know that it will.

It’s never a good idea to put all our social media eggs in one basket, and these changes are an illustration of that.

I know this post doesn’t contain everything you want to know about the changes coming. But I thought it was more important to give you a heads-up, than it was to wait until we had all the details. As I learn more about these changes, I'll share them here first. So stay tuned for next week's post when I'll give you some suggestions on how to restructure your social media plan in regard to these changes.

But for today, be sure to share your thoughts and your questions in the comments section below. I’ll try to answer what I can and give you my best guess on the rest.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

PLEASE NOTE: Comments are now closed for this post.

TWEETABLES

98 comments:

  1. What I'm wondering is can I close my author page when the time comes, without that messing with my personal profile page?

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    1. Ane, you can always close a page without it affecting your personal profile. The problem comes when you consider the people who interact with you there. We don't want to be there one day and gone the next. If you decide not to pay for FB, you'll need to begin now transitioning away from it and bringing your followers there with you.

      Another option is to transition your page to something other than business. The way I run the Blue Ridge page is as a resource for those who attend the conference. The changes we'll need to make is to post less about our conference blog. I don't know how much less because FB hasn't published specific guidelines.

      I'll be posting more information as soon as it's available. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, E

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  2. I'm ready to boycott all social media and just go dark. This makes me see so much red and it's only 6:10 in the morning.

    Thank you for compiling the information, Edie.

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    1. Casey, I know this is frustrating. I didn't post this to upset people, but to give us all time to make smart changes so we're ready. Hang in there. Blessings E

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    2. I'm curious where you found this information. Was it from a reputable source? None of the links in your article go back to the source.

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  3. Thank you for posting, Edie. Looking forward to your advice on how to set up our social media to weather the changes. Will we still be able to share book info for other authors or info regarding our agent agencies? Thanks!

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    1. Cindy, I'm really not sure how FB will categorize pages promoting other books or agencies. I suspect there will be a ceiling on how much we can post. FB is focused on being primarily a social network. They are fine with businesses using their platform as long as they pay for advertising. I'll be posting follow-up blogs as I get more detailed information. Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  4. Thanks for this heads up, Edie. I've gotten the notifications, but haven't taken the time to read them yet ... guess I'd better do that. If G+ does the same, how long will it be before Twitter follows suit? Then where do we go to get out our information? I know the point of social media is relationship, but it will definitely make me wary about what I post, even if the post is considered "free."

    I'm not sure migrating things to my personal timeline is a good idea. I try to keep it as personal and social as possible. Do you know what will happen with groups? So much of those posts are "advertising."

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    1. Sandra, I think a lot of this is still up in the air. Unfortunately, we've (at least I know I have) gotten spoiled with the ability to access free advertising. I think we'll have to be a bit more deliberate with where we focus that advertising because it will no longer be free. But a lot of the info we get now will still be available. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Blessings, E

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    2. Just wondering if this is something that may end up hutu g Facebook. Perhaps Google and others will watch to see the effect once Facebook implements there plan. Money talks and when it "walks" entities listen.
      Thank you, Edie. I'll let my husband know tomorrow.

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    3. Jacqueline, I'm not sure. I do know that Google watches what Facebook and others are doing and is working hard to not to make the same mistakes. It will definitely be interesting to see how it all plays out. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings, E

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  5. Thank you for this article. Looking forward to learning more.

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    1. Colleen, I'll definitely be sharing everything I learn. Thanks for dropping by, Blessings, E

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  6. Thx for the heads up, Edie! Now that I am aware, will be on alert for additional changes - 2015!
    "Nothing is Free" - unknown
    08 Dec 2014

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    1. Sheri, glad I could help! Blessings, E

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  7. Not great news, but I am grateful for the information, Edie. Thanks for alerting us to this and keeping us posted.

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    1. Julie, it may not be as bad as we think. If we can change the culture of the internet to one where people are used to paying for valuable things, it might help authors trying to sell books. Thanks for dropping by, Blessings, E

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  8. Thanks for the specific information on this subject. I've read several articles about the changes coming soon, but none were as useful as this one because you are so specific about what will and will no longer be allowed. We're all going to have to get a lot more creative to share info about new releases with quotes and questions, I guess.

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    1. Janet, I'm glad I was able to help out. Thanks for dropping by, Blessings, E

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  9. All the changes in social media make me want to stay away from it altogether. It seems safer to do things the old-fashioned way. Probably not the most efficient way, but it does seem safer than putting it all out there only to be taken advantage of by so many changes that come about.

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    1. Ellen, the problem with that train of thought is that nothing ever really stays the same. People don't access information the way they used to. Change isn't an unsafe or scary thing. There are good and bad aspects to the way things used to be, to the way things are now, and to the way things are in the future. Rest easy, we can tackle this, just like we've tackled everything else that was once new. Blessings, E

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  10. Edie - 2 questions:

    1. Is there a way to convert the "fans" on my author page to "likes" on my personal page?
    2. Do we know what FB will do if I close my author page and start using my personal page to talk more about my books?

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    1. Ava, to my knowledge, the answer to #1 is no. As far as the answer to #2, I have no idea. I would guess that FB would catch on to that pretty quick and take steps. Right now, I think the best thing to do is diversify. I'd put the most effort in building your email list, then make sure you're connecting with people over multiple networks. It's never a good idea to put all our eggs in one basket. Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings E

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  11. Thanks for the information, Edie. We'll make it, one step at a time. You are right - we've come to expect so much for free. The bubble's going to burst someday.

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    1. Sherry, you're right, we'll all be just fine. Thanks for dropping in, Blessings, E

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  12. Edie, Thanks for the heads up. I'm wondering how this will impact book contracts with publishers. Will they require certain social media bucks to be spent? Inquiring minds, you know?

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    1. Kevin I'm glad to help. I doubt this will affect book contracts. They don't require authors to hire publicists now, so wouldn't expect them to require this. I think they're going to look at what they always have, how big a reach do we have. Whether it's through email signups, blog subscribers, social media, or some other way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings E

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  13. My thoughts are this. Stephen King, etc. made it somewhat without social media. All the greats did before this pit called social media. Worst case scenario, we all go back to newsletters for fans and bookmarks, etc. Old school. I have always been of the school of thought that if I have a message to tell, I will send it with smoke signals if I have to. Corporate greed will not slow me down. Hope you all have a blessed evening.

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    1. And thank you for the information. It is greatly appreciated.

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    2. I agree 100%. I love your thoughts and appreciate you taking time to share them! Blessings, E

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    3. j.S. Watt, I like the way you think. I've made flyers and passed them out at book signings when my book wasn't ready for publication at an event. If there's a will to get our work noticed without bankrupting us further, there's a way.

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  14. Thank you for the heads up! I am anxious to see who's affected.

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    1. Katy, I'm happy to share what I find out and will continue to do so. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out. I suspect those who have an excellent product will be just fine. Blessings, E

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  15. Thank you for the FYI. Always appreciated.

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    1. Lee, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Blessings, E

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  16. Guess that makes the decision for me. I'm a writer that's not pubbed, so no fb page for me afterall. Looks like the world of social media is about to become a roller coaster ride! Thx for the info.

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    1. Kenzel, good decision. Work on building your personal profile, Twitter and concentrate on writing. Stay tuned, I'll post all the fall-out here. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

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  17. I'm not savvy enough to know the positives and negatives of the changes. One thing I do know is Edie Melson will wade into the waters with us, and help us learn to swim in new waters just like she has in the past. Thanks, Edie. I'm so glad you know how to tread.

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    1. Sally, we're all stronger—and safer together! Thank for the encouragement! Blessings, E

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  18. I agree with Sally. Thanks for being in the know.

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  19. I spent over a thousand dollars this last year in advertising on Facebook and most of that money was a waste. I spend very little time on Facebook since they limit who sees my posts. I don't like talking to myself, so it's not a big deal to me. Most of that money was spent in the beginning of the year before I realized it wasn't worth it. In the end, I think Facebook will go the way of the Dodo Bird. I much prefer twitter.

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    1. Lorilyn, you are a woman after my own heart! But as much as we love Twitter, we have to be careful not to put all our social media eggs in one basket. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Blessings, E

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  20. Excellent post. I'm in the process of changing my proposal (requested by a publisher who'd like to take a RELOOK at it when I've added MORE marketing ideas and a couple other things I'd never seen in a proposal before)
    In my search for more UNIQUE marketing ideas I learned that an author page on fb is NOT garnering the traffic that justifies the time spent posting there. I'm transitioning back to my personal page before I pull in bigger numbers of fans - and - since the majority of my "friends" on my personal page will be my largest fans/purchasers of my books anyway. I'm also concentrating on doing more FOOT work and WORD OF MOUTH promotions at this point.
    I APPRECIATE the time and effort you take to keep us in the 'know' when it's hard for those like ME who have trouble sorting out the REAL message in those scary emails. lol
    Thanks, Edie!

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    1. Joy, thank you! I think you're wise in rethinking your FB strategy. I appreciate you taking time to stop by and comment, Blessings, E

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  21. What I'm wondering is whether the price is going to be affordable, and whether it would be worth it to simply budget Facebook into my marketing expenses. FB is my primary playground, and I'm not sure I want to give it up.

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    1. Linda, I have no idea what the monthly price will be. I know it will be a tiered charge, starting low and going up. I don't know what each tier will provide. I do suspect it will be affordable and for those with an established audience it will make sense to make it a part of the marketing expenses. For those who don't yet have an audience, I imagine it will be a good idea to look elsewhere, at least initially. I'll be detailing my suggestions in next Monday's post. All good questions. Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  22. Hello,
    I don't want to sound like a horrible sceptic, but can you provide the sources for the information that you cite? I'd like to check this out a little further.

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    1. Monique, see my answer below. Thanks & Blessings, E

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  23. Thank you, Edie. I found this very interesting. I have never had a fan page, or author page, and the people who follow me on Facebook are mostly old co-workers before I retired, other authors I've met at conferences, family, etc. I do some promoting, but mostly for other authors and blogs. I'm taking a wait and see attitude right now. Smile!

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    1. Sandy, thanks so much for sharing your thought! Blessings, E

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  24. It may weed out a lot of those 'buy my book pages' that so many people post on but i rarely see a reply or question and have to wonder if they ever get any book sales that way.

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    1. Jae, I agree. And there is a LOT of weeding out that needs to be done! Blessings, E

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  25. Some author friends (myself included) have signed up at Tsu and I'm thinking it could be a good FB replacement place to connect. I think you have to have someone's link to get in and friend them to join, but maybe not. I followed a friend's link and it auto added her as someone I followed. But it's free and their tos sound pretty structured and plain. I don't know if anyone else mentioned it here, no time to read all the comments right now, but here's the link:

    https://www.tsu.co

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    1. I signed up as well, but like everything (including Google+) it's a bit of a ghost town compared to FB. I like what I see so far, though. Blessings, E

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  26. I joined TSU today. Will this replace FB? I'm looking at alternatives...

    Thank you for keeping us informed.

    https://www.tsu.co/JoEllen88

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    1. Jo, I also just joined TSU to check out the network. My profile is https://www.tsu.co/EdieMelson

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  27. What about groups? Have they said anything about what they will do with the groups? I have several and they seem to reach the members better than any of my FB profiles and pages. Thanks for the info, Edie, I knew they were coming, just hadn't seen any specifics.

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    1. Amy, I'm not sure what will happen to groups. I can't get any info on those. My opinion is that they'll not be as affected as Pages. Blessings, E

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  28. I was wondering about price, too. We're used to these things being free -- much like readers who are so used to free books they object to paying for them -- but there's nothing outrageous about a business wanting to be paid for a useful product. The main word there is "useful." If I could pay a modest monthly fee -- say $10 -- and they'd stop filtering my author-page posts, that'd be worth it to me.

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    1. Jo, we don't know what the pricing will be.

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  29. If I understand what you're talking about, it's the author pages that get "likes" that are being affected. Not my personal author page with "friends".

    I stopped working to build the fan base on my author page a year ago when it was apparent people weren't seeing my posts whether they were chatty, amusing or promotion. I now spend all my time on my personal author page which hovers around 4600 friends. I've learned ways to interact so my posts show up in their feeds. I like the truly social aspect of chatting with people on that forum.

    That being said, like many authors here, I try to keep my finger in several social media platforms to reach my readers.

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    1. Nina, yes, I'm talking about pages (LIKES) not a personal profile (where someone FRIENDS you). Thanks for the clarification.

      I've done the same thing - quite using my page and concentrating on my profile. Blessings, E

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  30. As far as where I got my information. It came from speaking with people certified from FB who are training businesses how to use FB legally in light of the upcoming changes. Facebook hasn't officially released this information yet.

    If we look at the progression of what changes FB has made, it is also a logical progression. Thank you for asking these questions. No one can be too careful when it come to verification! Blessings, E

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  31. There's a new social media outlet called tsū . I've just joined it, but it operates on the principle of you own your content and get paid for it. If you'd like to join and try it out, here's my link

    https://www.tsu.co/EveGaddy

    Here's a link to an article about it: https://www.poweraffiliateclub.com/tsu-social-media-pays/

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    1. Eve, and others, I just joined TSU and will be posting more about the network as I become more familiar. I'm https://www.tsu.co/EdieMelson so be sure to find me.

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  32. do you have links from facebook where we can read about it? Thanks :)

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    1. Sharon, as you can see from my comment above, FB has not published these guidelines yet. I am fortunate to have access to some people who have been trained and certified by FB. I'm sharing what I've learned so we ca be as prepared as possible

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  33. Question (that you probably can't answer) ... what if you are posting about someone else's new release, contest, etc? Until my own book comes out, I do a lot of posting about other's work ... people I've met and become friends with, other authors published through the same company, etc. Any ideas on how that might work out?

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    1. Aaron, not sure how this will play out. So much is up in the air still.

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  34. That makes me wonder about the groups on FB. I'm a member of about 175 of them and I post to them weekly advertising my books. The groups are usually created for readers by readers to help discover new books. That would be a shame if we could no longer share with our readers about our books without paying. But we survived before social media and we'll survive without it. God knows who our audience is!

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    1. I was wondering the same thing, Sherri.

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    2. Sherri and Nina, I haven't been able to get any concrete info about how this will affect FB Groups. My own opinion, is that this will have very little affect on them.

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  35. It's been obvious that tariffs like this were coming ever since FB went public. Just another reason to avoid FB.

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  36. I've been hoping FB would just charge a monthly fee rather than limiting how many followers see my posts. I'm perfectly willing to pay for such a useful service as FB is.

    As with everything in life, it's only bad news if you refuse to look for the many ways in which it's not.

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  37. For some concrete info, check out this article from the Wall Street Journal:
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-facebook-rules-will-sting-entrepreneurs-1417133694

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  38. I've moved my blog page over to Tsu. It seems like it might be a better option for now until I see what Facebook is going to be like after the first of the year. If you want to check out Tsu, here's the link. https://www.tsu.co/Jens_all_about_books
    And here is a beginner's guide to Tsu if anyone is interested. http://www.scottbuehler.com/social-media/tsu-guide/

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  39. Here's another option- www.literarysocial.com It's a site for authors, writers, publishers, agents, cover artists, and readers. So it's basically made for us and our fans.

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  40. This only affects Pages (which FB rarely shows to our fans/likers anyway)...not our personal accounts. Which, if you think about it, is what REALLY gets more views and engagement anyway.

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  41. Thank you so much for this information, Edie. This is the most succinct description of what it going on with FB I've seen. I believe all of the different social media outlets will be turning to this sort of policy as they try to make their sites more profitable. Someone will figure a new way to promote their books and there will always be new sites.

    As far as I'm concerned the only way you know who is getting your post and that all of your followers are getting a post is to have your own email list. These are fans who are interested in hearing from you and you can control the message they receiver. That's my story...and I'm sticking to it.

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    1. Susan, I think you're right. Email or newsletter is probably the way to go.

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    2. Sue, you are so right. Unless we own the real estate, we can't be sure of anything! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom, Blessings, E

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    3. I have a blog and I tell my fans/followers all the time that the best way to get info is to subscribe to my emails!

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  42. Just out of curiosity... where did you get the information about all the Facebook updates? I can't seem to find them on Facebook

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  43. My recommendation is to build your own email list on your web or blog site. To me, it's the only way you can hold on to the fan base you work so hard to build. Facebook will continue to make it more and more difficult for anyone to promote their work it collects a fee. Eventually, other sites will do the same thing. New ones will crop up, but the bottom line is that you are constantly having to re-engage with the same fans to keep them moving from site to site. Invest in a strong--doesn't have to be fancy website. Create a one page newsletter that goes out quarterly unless you have something specific to promote.

    The biggest disadvantage of this strategy is that you have to be very careful about promoting other author's books and vice versa. But I am sure you will all figure this out!

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  44. Replies
    1. Anonymous and Jerry, as I stated in the blog post and several times in the comments, I got this information from speaking with actual people who have been trained and certified by FB to work with businesses so they are not in violation of the UPCOMING Facebook guidelines.

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  45. What about a fan page for a particular author (rather than an author page) where no promotion or book release info was posted but the fans were directed to a writer's website for more information?

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  46. I'm very curious as to where you have gained your information about the fees.

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  47. Much of this article is questionable at best. Facebook's ad revenue is through the roof and growing every day, yet you make the claim that they need to "monetize" the site. There is very little chance of the changes you mention actually happening, especially given all of the actual changes Facebook has announced recently (see their REAL latest updates about removing overly promotional posts from feeds and providing all pages with the FREE ability to target organically). There is no need to be concerned by anything in this article. I will eat my hat if any of this ends up being true. I don't doubt that someone told you this information, but the real evidence available strongly indicates none of this is true. Facebook has no intention of charging businesses monthly fees.

    It's even funnier to hear that Google is looking at the same restructuring. This doesn't make sense on any level. Are you implying that Google would charge monthly fees on Google Plus? This is contrary to everything Google Plus is founded on. Additionally, you have absolutely no basis for such a claim. Your "sources" are these so-called certified Facebook people. What is your Google source? Google, like Facebook, would have no need whatsoever to charge businesses monthly fees.

    It's great that you are watching out for writers, but this is unnecessary fear mongering.

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  48. I agree with Jo. If the price is fairly reasonable - say under $20 a month for someone like me with less than 4k likes - and they no longer limited who saw what of mine, I'd go for it. Now, I don't post a LOT on my Authorly self - usually releases, a contest now and again, newsletter is out, that sort of thing, but still, I created that side initially b/c FB wasn't the corporate monger it's become and didn't limit anything back then. (Circa a year ago...)

    But now, with 4k on that page and I *barely* reach 200 per post? Yeah, it's not worth the maintenance or the stress of whether to post or not. I've said this before and I'll say it again. Ever since Zuckerberg's epic fail at going public, he and his team has looked for any way at all to recoup that massive loss...including killing small peeps like me and other Authors I know by paying to boost...I've only done it once or twice, just to see the effect and there wasn't one. I still only reached about half my likes...

    I did join TSU but like you said it's currently a ghost town and that's fine. When FB first started, it was too and it's built to where it is today.

    Anyway, thanks as always for keeping up with this stuff for us. It's much appreciated!

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    1. Facebook going public was far from a fail. Facebook's stock is higher than ever and the company is worth much more than it was when it went public.

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  49. I think there is a lot of confusion here behind what the changes really are going to be. Facebook has no intention of charging businesses a fee to have business pages or to post whatever they want. Facebook will prevent overly promotional posts from showing up in news feeds, but they aren't going to restrict your ability to post about release dates or events on your own page.

    Mark my words: Facebook will NEVER charge fees to be on Facebook. Their number one asset is having active members.

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  50. Comments are now closed for this post.

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