Part of marketing yourself as an erotic writer or getting more eyes to your sex blog is to use social media. There was a time in the not too distant past when some marketing "experts" discounted places like Facebook and Twitter as not being relevant. Thankfully, I haven't heard that kind of talk in a few years but if you're not into the social media thing at all, it can be hard to break into it for your website. And even if you've been on social media from the beginning, you may not be aware of all that it can offer.
This week is the beginning of a new series on social media and sex writing. Over the next few weeks, I'll hit on a few social media sites and how to navigate them as someone who writes about sex - whether as an author or blogger. Each site has it's own quirks, and we all have our own experiences with them. My experience may be different than yours. (If so, please share in the comments below so we can all learn!)
Today, let's talk about Facebook.
Facebook Page vs. Facebook Profile
First of all, let's start with the basics. A Facebook profile is you, the individual. You can friend people, like other pages, and function within Facebook as a person. A Facebook page is for an organization, a business, an author, or yes, even your website (for you bloggers out there). Facebook profiles are easy to set up, friend a million people, and start sharing your content. It's great for joining the sex writing community.
Back in the day, I created a profile as Kayla Lords, a page as "A Sexual Being" (for the blog), and later, a page for "Kayla Lords, Author." I ignored the pages - except for the advertising opportunities available - and focused on the profile. I had friends, people saw my writing, and it was easier to share other people's writing. In short, it was a perfect way to promote my writing and get to know people.
Until Facebook shut me down.
And therein lies the problem with being an erotic author or sex blogger using a pseudonym. If you can't show that you're legally doing business under that name (or jump through a million hoops to show it's a "primary" name), when your account gets shut down - and eventually it will - you have zero recourse. When it first happened, I gave up. I was sad, but I knew I didn't have anything really showing how much I used this name. Later, I was given information about how to get Facebook to let you in. I tried to jump through those hoops, but it still didn't work out.
Some people will get booted from Facebook for using a pseudonym and jump right back on with another fake name. That's great if you're just a kinky person hiding your identity. It's hell if you're a writer trying to build a community. On the other hand, Facebook pages require more work and don't let you feel the community aspect of the site as easily as a profile, but unless you really screw up and violate the terms and conditions (like getting reported left and right for nudity or inappropriate posts), you can keep your page forever.
Advertising on Facebook
The "benefit" to having a Facebook page (instead of a profile) as a blogger or writer is that you are given access to analytics to see what people are clicking on, how many people are viewing your page, and who's sharing what. That's great, except, as a page, you have much lower reach than with a profile. Maybe you have 1000 followers or "likes" for your author page, but only a dozen people ever see anything you post. It sucks, and it's frustrating.
The cheapest way to get more eyes on your Facebook posts is to post good stuff (which is a completely subjective thing because everyone's audiences are different) - sexy images (without getting reported), videos, really good content (not always yours). But that takes a lot of time and trial and error to figure out what resonates best with your audience. (But don't worry, I'll discuss some of what I've seen that works in a future post!)
Facebook pages have an advantage over profiles. You can pay to advertise your page or boost a post - either to people who already like your page, their friends, or by using keywords to target your audience. But wait, don't get excited yet. As a sex blogger or erotic author, you're going to be at a distinct disadvantage. Here's why:
- Your image for your ad (for a book or to promote your website) can't be too sexy
- Your hashtags can't be too obvious. Case in point, I write about kink and BDSM, and honesty in advertising means I should label kinky things as #BDSM or #kink - Facebook denies my ad every time when I do.
- If you have an ad blocked or denied by Facebook once, it's very hard to get approval a second time.
What does that look like in real life?
In the past, I've created Facebook ads for individual books. I include a line about the book, links to all the retailers where you can get it, and an image. Sometimes it's the book cover, and sometimes it's an image portraying a character. One time I was denied because they thought I was selling an adult service or a sexual product (like a sex toy). My image was a book cover, and I used hashtags like #Kindle and #Smashwords. One time I was denied because the image was too sexy (a shirtless man). The next time, I changed the image to a non-sexy image, took out the "BDSM" and "Erotica" hashtags, and still got denied because they believed I was selling a sex toy again. Yes, I contacted them to explain. No, I don't get an answer.
And that's just as an erotic author. If I tried to promote one of my kinky educational pieces, I believe it would get blocked by Facebook in a heartbeat. I may try it though - in case they surprise the hell out of me.
The frustrating part is that I target my audience when I create an ad. I specify people who are over 25 and people who have an interest in D/s, BDSM, erotica, and every other tag I can think of that fits the ad. I'm not trying to put this in front of 13 year old kids or anyone who doesn't have an interest in what I'm promoting. But it doesn't matter. They've tagged me in some way so every ad is suspicious.
Worst of all? Their own algorithms and systems will "encourage" me to boost a popular post on my Facebook page because people are responding to it. I haven't yet, but maybe I should.
To say it's frustrating is an understatement.
Social Media Best Practices: Facebook Edition
So does this mean you should give up on Facebook as a promotional tool? Not at all. But you have to accept there are limitations and rules, and that it won't be easy. Remember, this is their sandbox. While there may be a need for us to come together to affect change, until that happens, you have your business as a writer or blogger to think of. Fighting "the man" only to get shut down doesn't help you much.
Instead, remember a few "best practices" for Facebook in general:
Ask your fans and readers to share your posts on Facebook. Remember, though, not everyone can because of their own vanilla families who may gasp in shock at the kinky fuckery they read. But some people can, so always include a call to action either on your Facebook post or within your blog post. This will help grow your reach.
If you're going to have a Facebook profile under a pseudonym, be willing to start from scratch when you get shut down. Have a few trusted Facebook friends who can help you spread the word when you come back under a new name.
Create a Facebook page for your blog or as an author/writer. Even if you never use it, the day may come when you're tired of starting over every time you're shut down. Make sure that you have access to it without your pseudonym profile. If you've got a vanilla Facebook profile, make that profile an admin so you can always get to it. (This was my big mistake when I created my pages. It took me FOREVER to fix it.)
Post more than your own work to your profile or page. Share other bloggers' work. Pimp fellow authors. Spread the love. Even if you can only be on Facebook as a page, you can still be part of the community.
Read the Facebook rules for advertising very carefully. You don't want an ad denied because you blatantly disregarded their rules. They may still deny your ad even though you followed the rules, but make sure that's the only reason. Sometimes you may even get lucky, and your ad will be allowed.
If anyone is interested, I'll do a post in the next few weeks about how to advertise on Facebook. Leave a comment or send me an email (kaylalords at gmail) if you think that would be helpful. And hell, if I ever get an ad approved again, I'll let you know.
Just a reminder for everyone, though. If you're seeing positive results on Facebook, don't worry about changing anything. Whether through a lot of trial and error or really good luck, you may have found the sweet spot for your writing on Facebook. (Yay!!) But if you're tired of getting kicked off, don't know what your options are, or just need a little advice, hopefully this has helped you out.