4 Ways Writers Sabotage Themselves On Facebook


Many writers seem to have this love/hate/I don’t get it relationship with Facebook. It’s complicated, keeps changing, and people break the rules all the time. If you can’t afford to pay someone to run your Facebook page for you (there’s a large club – don’t feel left out) then you may be searching for a few shortcuts, because all you really want to do is write.

I see a lot of writers doing more damage than good to their platform with a few common mistakes innocently made. With 1 Billion users, Facebook is an enormous marketplace, and even if Facebook isn’t your cup of tea there’s no point in shooting yourself in the foot.

Facebook is perhaps one of the slowest platform building social media sites. For those just starting out on their writing journey, be aware that though a Facebook fan is more loyal, more likely to endorse your work to their friends, and more likely to buy, building an authentic tribe there takes time. Unless you’re an established author who already has a following, you’re probably going to start slow. Have a marketing plan and be intentional about your strategy on Facebook. It will pay off in the long run.

4 ways writers sabotage their platforms on Facebook:

Cross-posting from other social media accounts.

It’s easier (more efficient?) to create one status and cross-post on all your social media profiles. I see a lot of cross-posts on Facebook, but these shortcuts will cost you fans readers.

  • Using hashtags and bad grammar to stay inside the 140 character limit on Twitter can leave you looking like a twit on Facebook to someone who’s never been on Twitter. Click to Tweet
  • Tweeting the same link two to four times in a day is OK but repeating yourself on Facebook is bad manners. Click to Tweet
  • Posting too often is the number one reason pages get unliked or blocked from newsfeeds. Click to Tweet
  • Auto-posting to Facebook decreases likes and comments by 70%. Click to Tweet

Creating Too Many Pages

Stop the madness! As writers and authors, you are your brand. You need one page. Building a growing network and effective tribe on Facebook is hard enough with one page, why spread yourself so thin? You don’t need a page for every new blog you start (seriously ask yourself why you need so many blogs anyway!), or for every book. Stretching your social media time over 3 pages or more is playing Facebook roulette. One caveat is creating a page for your book as a placeholder on the url that clearly directs people to your main author page. Nothing looks worse than a stagnant or ignored page. Put your best marketing foot forward!

Improper Use of Groups

Groups can be an effective tool on Facebook, for some. If you’re looking to build a community or tribe around a specific topic (high-risk pregnancies for instance) groups can offer better communication between tribe members and help build credibility and authority, but it’s not a place to sell or market things. Pages have a lot of built-in marketing tools that groups don’t such as custom apps, analytics, and the ability to run ads, contests and sweepstakes. Creating a group for a book alongside an author page works for some, but it’s the minority!

Stop creating groups for book launches. Force-inviting all your friends to a book launch group and then spamming them until the end of time with ‘buy my book’ messages is annoying and makes people feel awkward. Create an event from your author page for book launches with an end time – if you’re doing an actual online book launch. Events aren’t a great way to make an announcement – that’s what promoted posts are for.

Bad Manners

Tagging people in a status update or a photo (just to make sure they see the post) meant to announce or advertise your book is spam. Visiting other pages on Facebook and posting something like: “great page. check out my book <insert link>” is quite rude. Using guilt and shame to get people to like or share a photo engenders no good will at all. And for the love of LOL Cats – turn off the notifications on the games you play (Facebook is the most addicting of the social media sites. Be wary of how much time you spend there when you could be writing.)

Would you slide a manuscript to an agent under the bathroom stall door? I hope not. Ick. All these things are seen as an invasion of privacy and people take it personally. It’s a quick way to get hidden or unfriended.

Good manners are more important than ever because Facebook has made recent changes that will negatively affect how many people see your page updates if you receive negative feedback and spam reports. Be warned.

Are you a reformed Facebook user? Are you guilty of any of these things? What have writers and authors done on Facebook that drives you insane?


48 Responses to 4 Ways Writers Sabotage Themselves On Facebook

  1. Prudence MacLeod December 3, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Good advice, Lisa, every bit of it. I’d so love to pick your brain over coffee and a ball of yarn one day. :)

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Absolutely Prudence! Next time I’m on The Rock 😛

  2. Mike Loomis December 3, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Well said, Lisa! Appreciate the straight talk!

  3. Anastacia Maness December 3, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Thank you, Lisa. This is some excellent advice. I like Facebook for it’s friendly conversational feel. I don’t want to become one of those rude users with a secret motive.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Facebook is my happy place too. Suits my personality better than Twitter.

  4. Robert White December 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Question:What if a Twitter post won’t provide you with enough characters to get all the info out you want? Can you do a teaser with a Twitter post (which is cross-referenced on FB) and then follow-up with a more comprehensive Facebook post?

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

      If you’re going to Facebook AND Twitter anyway – why not craft a tweet and a status update suited to each platform? Why have the two accounts linked at all?

      • Eric Riback December 31, 2012 at 6:59 am #

        I took over social media for a company that had linked their Facebook to Twitter so that every Facebook update posted to Twitter. Really bad because of course only the first 140 characters were seen. I undid the link. If I want to post the same info to both platforms, I craft each one separately.

  5. Jennifer Fischetto December 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Great article, Lisa. I am proud I no longer do any of these bad habits. :)

  6. Debra Eve December 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I’m with Jennifer. I’ve pretty much cleaned up these bad habits, especially after reading other posts from you and Marcy. I’ve always thought creating a book launch group was a bit spammy and am glad to have it confirmed. Thanks for the great tips, Lisa!

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      Glad to help. Thanks for the support, Debra.

  7. Penny Zeller December 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Excellent advice, Lisa!

    I have actually been the recipient of the “great page, check out my book!” spams posted to my author page by another author – so annoying!

    Thanks again for the great tips. Have a fantastic week.

  8. Mishael Austin Witty December 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Happy to say, I don’t do any of these! :-)

  9. Anna Rose December 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    My biggest gripe is the multiple invitations I get for release events and the like. When the author is doing it, and then someone else s/he knows does the same thing, I just want to pull out my hair and scream.

    I know they’re enthusiastic, but they really have to think through what they’re doing and how people might react.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      It’s helpful when the event is for an actual event (online or otherwise). I have a rash of event invites that are really just announcements.

  10. Rose McCormick Brandon December 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Hi Lisa – good advice. Since it’s not a good idea to auto post blogs, should we post each one manually?

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

      Yep. It takes a bit more time, but customizing your blog links for each platform will reach more people.

  11. Diana Beebe December 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Thanks, Lisa! I changed my WordPress settings so that it doesn’t post my blog tweet with the hashtags on Facebook when I publish a post. :-)

  12. Krysia Lear December 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    I’m with Anna Rose on multiple invitations being annoying; it recently put me off one charity. I like your imagery, Lisa, such as “Facebook roulette.”

    Including posts that give readers something of value — information, inspiration, entertainment, with being self-promotion keeps people coming back.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 3, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

      Providing value and having a strategy with goals is very important for success on a Facebook Page. Great point.

  13. Janet Sketchley December 4, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Lisa, I appreciate how you make using Facebook less intimidating by giving us the basics in language we understand. Thanks for these practical tips. As a reader, I honestly don’t mind auto-posts (I don’t even look to see if they’re marked that way) but I sure don’t like seeing the hashtags and other Twitter-speak. It looks lazy. Thanks to your advice I don’t pre-schedule Facebook posts anymore, but even when I did, it only took seconds to set up one version for Twitter and one for FB.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 4, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      Janet, I don’t think scheduling posts to your Facebook page is a bad thing – in fact Facebook now has an internal post scheduler that is really helpful. Facebook might hide your post in the chatter on newsfeeds if you’re using third party apps (Hootsuite, RSS Grafitti, etc.) to cross-post. Beyond that, Facebook is about relationships and conversation and by using those outside schedulers you’re just proving that you’re not even there to chat with. IMHO.

  14. Tameri Etherton December 4, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    Fabulous advice! It surprises me that people don’t get these simple rules. Especially posting links to their book on my wall without asking first. I’m all for promoting other authors, but that’s just rude, rude, rude.

    And yeah, I’m totally with you about the cross-promoting. When I see hashtags on facebook updates, I usually skip it. If I want hashtags, I hang out on Twitter, where I can actually go to the hashtag and join the party.

  15. Emma Burcart December 4, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    I’m so glad you cleared up the Event thing! I HATE getting facebook invites to fake events. I am used to FB invites being actual events, like a birthday party at someone’s house or girl’s night out at a restaurant. The whole idea of fake, online events just doesn’t work for me, but I feel guilty when I’m invited and I see that other people I know have accepted the invite. Most of the time I just ignore them because the first tiem I accepted I was bombarded with “Buy my book” messages and I couldn’t remember who they were from. Annoying!

    My issue with Facebook is that I don’t see it as very useful for me, yet. So far the only people who like my page are pretty much people who know me in real life. And I don’t have anything to promote except for my blog. I never know what I should post on my FB page, as opposed to my personal page. Maybe once I have a book to sell, it will make more sense to me. :) Thanks for all your great advice.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 4, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      I held off on having a page for a while too, for the same reason. As a freelance writer I didn’t necessarily have anything to sell. I used my profile to great effect for a long time. It’s a good idea to have the page though and secure the url for later use. Just be sure to point people to your profile or wherever you’re more active online. :)

  16. Marcia Laycock December 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Hi Lisa – thanks for this. Good advice. But I’m a bit confused by one comment – you said – “Create an event from your author page for book launches with an end time – if you’re doing an actual online book launch. Events aren’t a great way to make an announcement – that’s what promoted posts are for.”

    Pardon me if I’m dense but it seems like you’re saying create and event but then say events aren’t effective. What is a “promoted post?”

    Thanks for your help. Will post this link on my author page – http://www.facebook.com/marcialeelaycock. :)

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks, Marcia. You can create an event from your profile or your page on Facebook. Events created on a profile allow you to force-invite all of your Facebook friends if you want to – that’s why I have notifications for 6-8 book launch events showing up on my profile all the time. Creating an event from a page doesn’t allow you to force-invite anyone – so no spam. Instead of annoying people, create a fun graphic/image announcing your book, post it to your page, create a custom tab for the book launch, and pay (advertise) the image you posted so more of your fans see it. If you’re running a promotion of some kind along with your book launch – online events, twitter party, book signings, speaking events, personal appearances, etc. then using a FB event can be very useful without feeling like spam. Hope that helps.

  17. Jim O'Brien December 6, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    Lisa, this is all new to me. I’m on Facebook and twitter but I don’t use them much. I would like to show case my website. maybe even post some of my writing. You recommend having only one page. would that be to advertise a website? You seem to be against multiple pages. I don’t want to get boring like a guest that stays to long. appreciate your thoughts, thanks.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson December 6, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

      Social media is about building authentic relationships moreso than broadcasting news about ourselves. Focus on providing value, be personable, and interesting.

  18. Wendy Nelles December 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Great post, Lisa, just shared it on Facebook–which seems appropriate :-)
    Thanks for the tips.

  19. Debbie Morella-Haynes December 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Lisa, the more I read fom you, the better I feel. You really are a FB guru! I learned so much from you already during your FB class, and here I am learning even more from this single post. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson January 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

      I’m so glad you’re learning and enjoying!

  20. Tom Schultz December 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    What really drives me crazy are bits that come up about so-and-so playing some game. I came close to unfriending them over that!

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson January 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      You can block those notifications/apps if they annoy you without unfriending people.

  21. James D. Layton December 17, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I don’t mind people posting on Twitter then having that linked to Facebook, for me its 2 chances to see their message. I love chatting to readers on FB but spend most of my time of Twitter as it allows for short to and fro conversation and viral sharing. The only gripe I have is game requests on FB and people asking me to donate to various dog/cat charities.

    I already give to Cancer Research and if you think about it, most people choose a charity organically. Its wrong to keep pestering people who otherwise are not interested. Getting invites to random events is also odd. I live in England but constantly get invited to parties and galas in NY or LA.

    Another reason I prefer Twitter is the 140 ch limit. The 2 or 3 paragraph rants that some people post on FB is a turn off. It’s hard to get angry in 140 characters 😉

    Thanks for the information.


    P.S Would you create a character page on Facebook? As in, a page for a certain character you have written like James Bond for instance. I’ve thought about creating one for Eloise Crimson but don’t know if it would just be weird.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson January 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

      Pages take time and commitment to run well. If people are looking to connect with you or learn more about your books – would they search for the character in your novel? I’ve only seen it done well once or twice (Lizzie Bennet Diaries is one done well). I don’t recommend it – but Thomas may pop on and give his two cents.

  22. David December 30, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Here’s another:

    1) An author sent me a “friend” request. I went along with it (though I prefer to keep non-personal stuff on my FB author page).
    2) I commented on a post by that author.
    3) The author asked me about my book.
    4) The author then told me she’d bought it and read it (she hadn’t), and she posted a glowing review.
    5) The author then informed me Amazon had warned her: if I didn’t reciprocate they’d remove her review of my book.

    I keep thinking about blogging abt this one. This author has a respectable number of reviews, nearly all of which are very favorable. So I guess extortion works, for a while?

    Anyway. Thanks for the post!

    • Anne R. Allen December 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      David–Wow. Just wow. That extortion story is mind-boggling.

      Lisa– This is a fantastic post. Will RT and share. I especially like the point about groups. I get added to at least one “group” a day. It’s got so I dread going on FB at all.

      • Lisa Hall-Wilson January 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

        Yeah – I get forced-added to groups, but more commonly events masquerading as announcements. Pretty annoying because you can’t turn off the notifications unless you decline the event – and the event creators have it set so that each person who declined is visible. What’s that!?
        Glad you enjoyed the post.

    • Lisa Hall-Wilson January 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

      Just leaves a bad impression, doesn’t it. Live and learn, I guess.

  23. Katy January 19, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Crossposting is very popular on HELPful in animal rescue. We connect death row animals with rescue’s FB PAGE and pullers, as well fosters and forever homes. Now, FB has blocked many of us, when copying same animal’s link (URGENT) to 3-4 Pages. Is this spam? No it is not, its critical info which needs to be passed quickly.
    Not good system, and blocks people who really are just posting lots of info quickly, If Page owners would not want that post, they could hide it, or prevent for posting at all.

    Facebook needs to change this NOW! Facebook is preventing volunteers for helping animals in death rows.


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