Do You Want Friends or Fans on Facebook?


“Do I need to friend my fans? Will people quit reading my books if I don’t accept them on my personal Facebook page? But what about privacy? I don’t want strangers seeing pictures of my family!”

Do those questions sound familiar? For many authors, the answers don’t come easy. They have mini crises because they don’t want to offend people while protecting their privacy.

Facebook has created artificial social norms that most people don’t know how to navigate. (Don’t know where to start? Try this article on how to integrate your platform with Facebook.)

When I sit down with clients, I ask them what their vision for Facebook is. Some of them have never thought of the question before. Authors are in the unique position of being entrepreneurs.

The line between personal and business has been smudged, if not completely erased. 

Having a clear game-plan will help you answer the questions before they become a crisis. Here are some of the questions that I ask clients:

  1. How many “friends” do you currently have on Facebook?
  2. How many of them are acquaintances?
  3. What are the things that you will not post about?
  4. How important is privacy?
  5. How do you define privacy?
  6. What kind of things do you not want shared with anyone outside your “inner circle?” Do you currently share those things on Facebook?
  7. What do you want to be known for as a writer?
  8. What are fun aspects of your personality that you are trying to build into your author brand?
  9. How comfortable are you with Facebook? Do you consider yourself savvy?
  10. Is your goal to make friends or to sell books?

Working through those questions will help you look at your Facebook account objectively. If you’ve used it for the past five years to keep in touch with family and friends, suddenly switching to marketing and promotion is going to feel unnatural. But if you are someone who has used the site to network, it’s going to be much easier. Finding out where you are now will help you become the author you want to be.

I personally recommend that authors have their own Facebook Author Timeline where they can interact with their fans. There are quite a few advantages to using one. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Privacy – Facebook was intended to be used to connect with friends. There are already enough stalkers and gawkers out there. You don’t have to let them on your page.
  • Analytics – these are key to your Facebook success. Facebook analytics (also known as insights) let you know your audience and tweak your messages to them.
  • Marketing Capabilities – You can’t sell books, have multiple tabs, run contests, or highlight the fan of the week on your personal Timeline.
  • No Fan Limits – If you want to market, you need an audience. Your personal Timeline only allows you 5,000 fans. Before you say that’s a lot of fans, do you only want to sell 5,000 books? 

If you need help setting up your Author Timeline, Author Media can help. We work exclusively with authors because we know that you have more better things to do than worry about technology. You have books to write.

Do you friend your readers or keep them as fans? What is your Facebook strategy?


6 Responses to Do You Want Friends or Fans on Facebook?

  1. Ellen Painter Dollar March 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I have both a personal FB page and a “fan” page. But I have to say I struggle with how to maintain both and use them properly. Part of the problem is that so much of what I write is of a “personal” nature. I write about parenting, faith, disability, and other topics, often in a memoir-type style. For my own blog posts, I post links on both Facebook pages. But when i want to share a link to some interesting article, I often am stumped about whether to post it to one or the other, or both. I think many of my actual friends would be interested, as would people who only know me as a writer, because it relates, perhaps, to one of my core topics. But if I’m posting everything to both timelines, why have two pages? Or if I’m posting a status update related to my writing life (some joy or frustration), I want to share it with my friends (because they are my friends!) but I also know readers like glimpses into what it’s like to be a professional writer. So keeping the boundaries clear is not always that easy. For the record, I do encourage my actual friends who also read my stuff to “like” my professional page as well, but not all of them do, and I certainly don’t want to pester them about it.

  2. Caitlin Muir March 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Thanks for jumping in the conversation, Ellen. There’s nothing wrong with publishing your blog posts to your personal timeline. You should. But that shouldn’t be your main interaction point with your readers.

    The where/when to post struggle is growing. I recently heard a great rule of thumb for people who are posting on their private and professional Timeline.

    On your personal page – 9/10 of your posts should be personal. 1/10 should be promotional.

    On your professional page – 9/10 of your posts should be professional. 1/10 should be personal.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Turndog Millionaire March 3, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    It’s tricky one, isn’t it?

    I personally want to keep things totally separate because my Facebook profile is my only online means to stay in touch with friends from years gone by.

    Will some of these become my friends and readers? maybe…

    But they are my friends, and although i make friends online through my writing, i do try and keep my worlds somewhat separate

    Facebook fan page… yes!

    Facebook profile? no

    It is tough though isn’t it?

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

    • Caitlin Muir March 5, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, Matt! It can be hard to keep the two worlds separate. I’m glad you know what you want and have a game plan to achieve it!

  4. Cheats on Facebook April 11, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I’ll complain which you have copied material from another supply

  5. Jane Ann McLachlan April 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    I only have one website, for both friends and networking. I wouldn’t promote hard on a professional FB page anyway, and I wouldn’t get real personal on a friends FB page, either, so there’s no reasion not to combine the two.