My Frenemy, Facebook, by Mae Clair

I wish I could say I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but that would imply love and the most I can rummage up is a questionable like.  

Social media is an interesting beast. Like an octopus with many tentacles, Facebook is but one of many channels available for connecting with others in an online world.

As a writer, it’s a necessity for me to be there and maintain a presence. The second half is the hard part.  No matter what I do, how I slice and dice my day, I can’t seem to squeeze in an allotment of time for Facebook. Between a home life, day job, writing, blogging and reading, FB just isn’t a priority. I keep looking for the magic equation of time but haven’t found a solution. That’s a hard pill to swallow for someone with a type-A personality who is driven to conquer obstacles.

Frustated businesswoman

That’s not to say Facebook isn’t without benefits. I’ve made some great friends on the site that I wouldn’t have encountered elsewhere in the world of social media. And, yes, I’ve directly sold books as a result of FB, but I’ve also encountered a number of frustrating hurdles. Like these:

Automatic Blog Feed
When I first realized I could hook my blog to my FB author page (so that my posts appeared automatically), I was ecstatic. It was great to be able to share what I was blogging about on a daily basis. I could even connect to my friends page and share there as well. And–best of all–it saved me time from manually having to do a post each day. I kept a presence on FB and kept everyone informed about what I was sharing on my blog. Great, right?

Not so fast.  When Facebook became a publically traded company, a lot of things changed.

  1. My posts no longer appeared in the newsfeed of everyone who was following me. Now, if they really wanted to connect with my page, they had to add me as an interest.
  2. FB doesn’t like anything automatic. So the blog feed I thought was the be-all/end-all of social media ease had suddenly become a hindrance. Why?

Algorithms
Facebook places more emphasis on certain types of posts than others, meaning (depending on the type of post you make) a greater amount of your fans are likely to see it. Here’s the order

  1. Text
  2. Posts with photos
  3. Posts with links
  4. Posts with videos
  5. Posts from automatic feeds and scheduled posts (think Hootsuite as an example)

Those blog posts I was so pleased about, now got bumped to the bottom of the list. Not to worry though, because I came up with a solution. I disconnected my blog and began to manually insert my posts each day, using a photo from my blog.  Photos rank high. (Facebook is currently adding even more emphasis to them).  Smart move on my part, huh? Suddenly I was back up to number two on the algorithms list. Things were looking good…until I started thinking about the “likes” on my page.

Word cloud for Social networking potential

Page Likes
Like most authors, I enjoy having “likes” on my page. I want to connect with like-minded people who are interested in reading, writing and, who hopefully, are intrigued by my work as an author. I enjoy talking about those things and love when I have interaction from others. As I said, I’ve made some great friends there.

Interaction is the key. Because if no one (or very few) interact with your posts, less and less people (among those “likes” you have) see them. As a result, FB starts dropping your page further down the list of ranking. So if a horde of people “like” your page as a favor and never return to interact with it, those likes actually factor against you.

Of course I can pay to have my posts promoted, but I’m reminded that FB was created as a social site, not a business site. The majority of people there are out to share socially and have fun, not buy books.  

It’s better to create posts that engage interaction. Because the more interaction a post has, the more viral it becomes and the more people who see it.

Fan Page and Friend Page
Finally, we come to this…the burden of maintaining two pages. Do I understand the need for it? Yes, I suppose (said reluctantly).  I work in the real estate field. If I listed and sold properties which I don’t (I’m in marketing and IT), I wouldn’t want my business clients seeing the same silly and/or personal posts I share with my family and friends. There’s a boundary of professionalism that has to be maintained.

However, as a writer, most of my friends on my “friends page” are other writers. It would be nice if FB allowed the option of having a fan page without first creating a profile/friends page. Yes, it can be done, but then you’re severely limited in what you can do using that fan/author page. (Example, you can “like” another page as a business page but that like won’t show in the page count). It’s hard enough for me to maintain one page, but two? Seriously?!?! Is any of this starting to sound like work?

I didn’t expect to like Facebook when I signed up for it so you may think my opinions are/were bias. But I was certain I wouldn’t like Twitter either. Adamant, in fact. It turns out I love Twitter. It’s easy, quick (my favorite part), and I love the short conversations I can have with others. We’re all different in our preferences. For me, Facebook remains my frenemy, the challenge I have to conquer. My type-A personality won’t have it any other way.

How do you feel about it? Do you have a formula for balancing social media time with everything else in your life? I would love to know the secrets!

42 thoughts on “My Frenemy, Facebook, by Mae Clair

  1. Mae, you’ve hit the nail on the head! As much as I know I need to post daily on FB to keep engagement, I have next to nil time. MY CP in Australia also sent me a link from some study that said over 400K users in Australia have dropped FB. I can believe it. I know two of my sisters that have – completely – and one that barely logs in. As for Twitter, it is easy and supposedly the best marketing tool you can use. For me? It’s also easier to tweet colleagues and friends news and blogs. Like here, just a click on the birdie, and done!

    • Hi, Cd! Interesting news about those FB users in Australia. I know a lot of people who enjoy Facebook, but they’re using it for social engagement, not business promotion. Like you said….it’s so much easier to tweet for colleagues than keep up with FB. Hopefully, someday soon I’ll find that magic balance. For now, I’m pulling my hair out trying to find the time. Ugh!

  2. Good info on the algorithms! I had no idea! As for me, I don’t have a lot of love for FB. They don’t make it easy for writers to connect with people, (case in point: the algorithms!) yet you still have to be there. I find Twitter a little friendlier.

    • Hello and thanks for commenting! I find Twitter friendlier too (and easier). FB was a lot more manageable when I first created an author page, but the changes have made it hard to keep up and connect. I’m glad my info on algorithms was helpful!

    • Jennifer, I completely agree. I know that as authors, we have to maintain a social media presence, but it’s hard to be enthusiastic about it when it cuts into writing time — the thing we enjoy the most. I disconnected my blog from FB several months back when I took a social media class and learned using links and an automatic feed put me at the bottom of the algorithms list. Now I post a photo (high scoring) and the URL of the post, rather than letting the link capture the feed from my blog. It’s so hard staying on top of this stuff!

    • Hi, Lynda! Many thanks for stopping by and commenting. You’re absolutely right about FB being a necessary evil. That’s exactly how I see it too. I’m glad my post was informative, and hope it helps in getting your posts seen by more of your FB friends!

  3. Let me raise a glass and add a “here here” to that! With all of this, just when are we supposed to write the story swirling around inside our head? (Sigh) I want a magic wand….

    • Oooh, Debbie, you just solved my problem–A magic wand!!! 😀 Make sure you put in an order for two when you find it. I so hear you about all those stories wanting to be told, and rummaging up the time to devote to them. If only….

      I’m 100% with you!

  4. Great post, Mae. You’ve nailed FB quite well. I still have to say that I like it better than the Twitter, but don’t like the constraints, as you pointed out. I’m glad to see you there on both. And sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. It’s been a busy couple of weeks.

    • Hi, Stanalei! We all have to go MIA for a while when life kicks in high gear. Glad to see you back.:) And yes, I’m far more fond of Twitter but I won’t abandon FB. I’ve just got to find a way to bulldog through the constraints.

      Hope things are settling down for you!

  5. I just don’t like all the changes FB makes almost every week. And now the cheek of them asking for money to promote your post or status update – um, no!
    I love Twitter. Facebook – I’ve more of a lukewarm feeling for.

    • I hear you, Emma! The endless changes drive me nuts. Enough already!

      FB took a stand before it went public that it would always be free, so they can’t go back on their word. Hence those constant enticements to promote your post through paying money. It makes it far more easier for me to embrace Twitter.

  6. I know what you mean Mae! I have often debated hooking up my blog, but like you said there is a boundary there that you don’t want crossed with certain family members shall we say. Although I did learn more about FB and the order of importance….never knew that! I also just started playing around with Twitter, although I am finding it a bit confusing, I do see the potential to increase traffic. But with the constant changing of FB, its enough to want to bypass for something more straight forward and less constraining.

    • I think you’ll love Twitter! It takes a little getting used to but once you get the basics down, it’s a breeze. I’m glad you found my post helpful, especially related algorithms and the order of importance. It’s amazing what you have to be conscious of when working with different avenues of social media. If only we had the luxury of time!

  7. I agree – Twitter is simply “easier” to figure out somehow. I’ll think I’m doing okay on FB, then my next post will only be seen by 3 people. I understand the principles of what to do to get better viral potential, but it takes more “thinking” for me. Certainly not intuitive. At least not for me. I had planned to get a better handle on FB in 2013, and here we are 1/2 way through and I’m not much further ahead. LOL. Oh well. Maybe we’ll all figure it out eventually… 😉

    • Hi, Lorraine. I’ve been saying I was going to get a better handle on FB since I signed up in early 2012 and it hasn’t happened yet. Like you said…I know what I have to do, but actually seting the time aside to do is another matter. It was so much easier to embrace Twitter. Now that I’ve done this post, maybe I’ll actually get my but in gear and start posting regulary! 🙂

  8. I use facebook for my weekly writing group. Period. I never wanted to be on facebook but now I have to be to participate in the group. Otherwise I’d have nothing to do with it

    • Hi, Sue. I use FB (in addition to my author and profile page) for an author group I’m a member of. That’s actually a cool place to post, because everyone else in the group is sharing about their blogs or books. I generally check it once a day in the morning. Good luck with your weekly writing group. FB does make it easy for a group to hang out.

  9. Hi Mae! Thanks for the informative post. I know I spend a lot more time on my personal FB page than my author page, and have been auto-submitting my blog posts to it. Though, half the time I make an announcement on my personal page about upcoming blogs, too, because like you I also have a lot of writer friends on my personal list.

    Ugh.

    That said, FB takes little to no time to throw out a post, unlike the blogs that take a considerable more amount of time to think up, write, edit, and publish. Unfortunately, I don’t get a whole lot of interaction on FB – probably because I haven’t been consistent in posting out there.

    All that aside, I’m trying to focus on writing first and foremost, because without my books, there really isn’t a need for anyone to “follow” me on a professional writer level, is there? 😉

    • A most excellent point – – writing is what it comes down to. Like you, that takes priority for me. And, for some reason, it’s easier for me to be active in the blogging world than on FB even though it requires more time. Hmmm… I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. Maybe because blogging feels closer to writing.

      You’re definitely right about the ease of FB in getting information out there quickly. I’ve found the best way to get interaction on FB is to ask questions. People like to share their opinions. When I am on FB, it’s something I generally do with a fair amount of success.

  10. Mae – Thanks for an informative blog. For myself, I rarely visit Facebook more than once a week and sometimes not that often. I see most of it as chatter I don’t care to be a part of. I like Twitter and the speed of communication it provides. I’ll always us Twitter over Facebook. I’m trying to find a way to cut back on the hours I sink into blogging but haven’t found an acceptable solution yet. Perhaps one of these days.

    • Hi, Sheri. I’m with you on the speed of communication Twitter provides. There are times I go weeks without checking FB and then feel guilty because I feel like I’m dropping the ball. I’ll always choose Twitter over Facebook too!

  11. I feel your pain, Mae. I use FB mainly for my friend interaction. My fan page gets hardly any hits. I try though. I ask questions and I hear birds cheepin most times LOL. I don’t get on Twitter nearly enough either. I feel like I miss everyone’s posts half the time because my feed is constantly moving. So hard to keep up.

    • It sounds like we’re all in a bit of the same boat when it comes to social media. Ugh! At least with Twitter, Hootsuite helps me keep track of the tweets my friends make. I wish I had a system for FB. One of these days, I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, I guess I’ll muddle along like everyone else, LOL! Thanks for sharing, L.J.!

  12. Oh, for crying out loud! And here I thought all I had to do was comment on my friends posts, post interesting or boring things about my life, and links for when I bought a book or made a review or to promote my fellow authors. Algorithms?! I didn’t know Facebook had them. I’ve just realized how to work Amazon’s algorithms. This gives me that pent-up feeling of frustration I get when I don’t really know what the heck I’m doing. Just stumbling through all this marketing. I only have one facebook page, I didn’t do a fan page, because my vertical gardening business has a page, so I’m already on two.

    I LIKE other authors all the time so I can keep track with what their doing and comment and make a presence for myself. I feel so out of it. Thanks Mae. I don’t know how you do it. I’m not even working right now and I feel stressed trying to keep my name out there.

    I do love twitter though.

    Mary (whiner) Merrell

    • Hey, if you’ve got a handle on Amazon’s algorithms, you’re ahead of me, Mary!

      I know what you mean about that feeling of frustration. It’s like you no sooner get something figured out and there’s another obstacle that rears its ugly head. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes in technology and social media.

      Given you already have TWO FB pages, I couldn’t imagine the headaches in adding a third. Yikes! There are plenty of authors I’ve LIKED too on FB, and many I do try to visit whenever I’m on Facebook (which is lacking). I love seeing what they’re up too, as not all of them are on Twitter or have blogs.

  13. Great information, Mae. Just when I think I have something mastered, it changes. But, I’m like you, a type A personality who likes a challenge. I’d remember about the algorithims, but by next week it will probably change. 😉

    • Hi, Gemma and welcome from another type A personality! 😀 It’s almost impossible to walk away from a challenge, isn’t it, even one like Facebook. I’ll cross my fingers we both figure it out before the next change rolls down the pike!

  14. I joined FB about a year and a half ago, but I only use my author page. I’ve discovered that my posts will get more exposure if I put the link in the comments, not the original post. I have no idea why it is, and of course, once FB figures that out, I’m sure they’ll change it. LOL I’m a big fan of Twitter, and when I joined, I had no idea I’d love it so hard. I like the instant communication with people, and the way you can just come in and out of it without feeling like you have to catch up. It’s hard for me to stay away from there. 🙂

    • Hi, Donna! When I’m on FB I try to use my author page more than my profile page too. Maybe I should just stick with it, period!

      Neat trick about putting the link in the comments. I hadn’t thought of that. Whenever someone comments on a post, it makes it more viral and is seen by more people, so that makes sense. Thanks! I’m going to have to try that. WOOT!

      And I’m with you on Twitter. I fully expected to DISLIKE it when I joined, but I love it. Aside from blogging, it’s my favorite form of social media!

  15. I got in so much trouble when I first go on Facebook. Once they made me pass a test matching photos to ‘friends’ 10 correct answers in a very short time span. It took me an entire day to pass that test. I must have taken it a 100 times. Thankfully books were often a picture, providing me an easy match. Still matching whips, trees, flowers and children to my 1000 friends was nearly impossible.

    The next time that happened to me, I coughed up my cell phone number (which had evidently been what they wanted all along.)

    I’m still not sure why the collective we chose facebook over Myspace.

    • Wow, I never heard of that one before, Liza! It sounds like a mess. I was never on MySpace, so I have nothing to compare FB too. Is MySpace even still out there? I’d completely forgotten that there WAS an alternative before Facebook!

    • I chose FB because everyone of my MYSPACE friends did and left me all alone. lol I resisted for several years though. I thought FB was boring and uniform until my brother told me how to ‘decorate’ my new space. But then, of course, FB changed that too.

  16. I’ve found a solution, Mae. When it all seems too much, I ignore it all and then dedicate an hour or two one day a week to FB, Twitter and so forth. If I don’t get to everything… and I usually don’t… there’s next week. Without books being written I have no need for social media in that capacity– so that must come first. M.U.S.T.

    • I agree with you Calisa. The books come first. That’s where my energy goes too. After that, I favor blogging and Twitter with FB getting the leftovers. I do try to make an effort with it every week or so, but usually feel neglectful that I’m not doing better. Maybe if I set aside a specific hour or two each week I’ll manage better. Hmmm….must give that a try!

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