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?

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!