By Emlyn Chand/ I’ve already discussed how Facebook fits into the larger social media network that you need to build in order to promote yourself as a published or prepublished author (that’s here). I’ve also given you a 20-step guide as to how you can establish your new writing page and get people to like it (that’s here).
Now I’d like to begin a new series of posts that could possibly span into infinity. I want to highlight the best apps for encouraging user engagement on Facebook. For each post in the series, I’ll discuss 5 apps, how you can add them to your page, and the special ways in which they can help promote your writing.
Before I begin with my delineated list, I’d like to call attention to the most powerful tool on the Facebook fan page: the wall. It’s so simple that its power may not be readily apparent, but trust me, the wall is without a doubt the most useful part of your Facebook page.
Many a fan won’t think to tab through and search for other installed apps. The wall is common among personal and fan page accounts. It makes sense to users. They know how to use it, and it’s their most straightforward method for interacting with you. Some apps will automatically post updates to your wall (like an RSS feed). For others, you may need to post periodic reminders on your wall to entice fans.
The Facebook fan page wall is such an important tool that I think we’ll have to come back and cover its effective use in a whole separate post, so look out for that.
Now, without further ado, I give you the first 5 apps, which will enhance your author page and help to promote your writing:
What is is: The discussion board app invites your fans to get talking. It’s easier to string conversations together via the discussion board than it is to keep track of them on your page wall. The conversation topics with the latest activity will automatically float to the top of the stream, making it easy for your fans to find the hottest topics and to engage in the discussion.
Why you want it: This app makes it easy to interact with your fans in a simple and organized fashion. It also enables your fans to interact with each other. Try posting book club-style questions about your latest novel, general topics pertaining to reading choices or the craft of writing, or topics specifically catered to your genre or to other themes within your books.
How to get it: This app is automatically added to your page when you sign-up, but it’s your job to add in poignant and evocative topics for discussion! To add a topic, you simply need to click on “discussions” from the vertical menu on the left-hand side of your page, then click “start a discussion.” Fill in an informative title (I find questions elicit responses quite nicely), add in a description, click to “post new topic,” and you’re done. So easy!
If you need more detailed guidance: The main app page is kind of spammy, so check out this separate help forum with info about the app: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=62088208022&topic=7631
What it is: As its name quite unambiguously suggests, the events app allows you to plan and schedule events. You can also keep track of your guest list and share updates on the walls of these individual events.
Why you want it: The event app is extremely helpful for authors. Keep fans up-to-date with information about your upcoming signings and readings. Let them know exactly when your next novel is coming-out or of other important goings-on. You can also use the event app to remind your fans about online events, such as contests and submission periods.
How to get it: This app is automatically added to your page when you sign-up. You will, however, have to manually activate it. To do this click “edit page,” and then choose “apps” from the vertical menu bar to the left. Click edit settings under the “Events” icon, and then click “add” (it says this in parentheses after the word “available”). Click “okay.” Go back to view your page. You’ll see that the events app has been added to your page—you can access it from the vertical menu bar on the left.
To create an event, you simply have to plug-in an event name, time and date, and description. You may optionally include an event photo or location. You can select guests to invite from your personal friend network, and you can click the button in the upper right corner of the page to inform your fans of this new event. Your upcoming events will also show-up under the event tab of your page.
If you need more detailed guidance: Check out the help center for this app at http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=413
What it is: Follow your favorite blogs and let your readers follow you all within the comforting familiarity of Facebook. Bookmarks and folder-systems can become tedious. Networked Blogs can post new articles to your Facebook wall (if you enable this feature) or to your Twitter feed.
Why you want it: If you’ve been browsing the blogosphere for any length of time, you’ve no doubt run into the Networked Blogs sidebar widget. This app allows users to follow your blog and receive updates in a simple and straightforward way. It’s one of the best ways for organizing blog feeds—period.
How to get it: Networked Blogs is incredibly user-friendly. They’ve crated detailed instructions as to how to activate the app on your page. You can view step-by-step writing instructions and screenshots by visiting: http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/help_pages.php
If you need more detailed guidance: Check out the app’s FAQ page here: http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/help_faq.php
What it is: This app allows you to create quizzes, polls, and top 5 lists. You can also use it to further customize the design of your page.
Why you want it: Fan Appz is super fun. You can create trivia quizzes for your fans, form top 5 lists related to any topic you can dream of, or poll your fans to learn more about them. I find the polling feature is particularly useful. You can ask fans what type of content they’d like to see more from you or further ascertain their unique interests outside of your writing.
How to get it: Visit the app’s page at http://apps.facebook.com/fanappz/fanPageAdmin/add Click “add Fan Appz to my page.” Choose your page and then click “add Fan Appz.” You’ll be redirected to your page. Note that you now have an item called “Polls/Quizzes+” in your vertical menu bar to the left. There won’t be any content there just yet; first you’ll need to back track to http://apps.facebook.com/fanappz/fanPageAdmin/add Click on “go to admin menu,” select your page from the list and click on “go to admin menu” a second time.
You can now add polls, quizzes, and top 5 lists. Set something up; it’s quick and easy. You can even add pictures or videos to your list items. Once you’ve added a feature, it will automatically appear on the page dedicated to this app within your fan page.
If you need more detailed guidance: Visit the app’s main website at http://fanappz.com/
What it is: This app allows your fans to rate you, your book, or your product on a scale ranging from 1 to 5 stars. They can also add in comments or testimonials.
Why you want it: The reviews app invites your fans to comment on your page and give you organized as well as quantitative feedback. Someone on the fence about buying your novel may visit the reviews on your Facebook page to see what other readers are saying. If you notice a particularly unfavorable review, you might be able to initiate a conversation with the disgruntled fan to learn more about what did or didn’t work for them in your piece. Feedback is a good thing, especially for writers!
How to get it: Visit the app’s page at http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=6261817190&v=wall Click “add to my page” in the left corner. A pop-up window will occur, select the page to which you’d like to add this app. You may have to manually activate this app on your page. To do this click “edit page,” and then choose “apps” from the vertical menu bar to the left. Click edit settings under the “Reviews” icon, and then click “add” (it says this in parentheses after the word “available”). Click “okay.” Go back to view your page. You’ll see that the reviews app has been added to your page—you can access it from the vertical menu bar on the left.
You can’t review your own page! You can invite your fans to add reviews. Just keep in mind, you might get both positive and negative feedback—the hope is that people who have liked your page are authentic fans, who will give you at least middling reviews.
If you need more detailed guidance: The main app page is kind of spammy, so check out this separate help forum with info about the app: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=10381469571&topic=9555
Emlyn Chand was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Novel Publicity’s mascot is a Sun Conure, thanks to her obsession with birds–and she gets to decide anyway since she is the company’s founder and president. Although her first novel Farsighted won the prestigious Writer’s Digest Self-Published Novel of the Year award in 2012 for the YA category, she now writes most of her fiction under her “real” name, Melissa Storm. Learn more or connect with her (or her Sun Conure, Ducky!) on either of her author websites: www.emlynchand.com or www.melstorm.com. You can also friend her on Facebook, tweet with her @novelpublicity, or send her an email via email@example.com.