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How to Engage Readers With Your Facebook Page

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Just when you thought you were all set to promote your book on your website, I'm writing to you about making your Facebook fan page shine. Spending time on social media sites can feel like a time sink, I know, but there is a bright side. Your Facebook fan page (unlike a personal Facebook page) is accessible to everyone and the sooner you begin, the sooner you can build up your fan base. If you are new to using Facebook, you may want to read my blog on "8 Ways to Increase Engagement on Facebook" first.

If you want to take your engagement to the next level, read on. As one of the top social media platforms, Facebook is a terrific way to build your brand. Let's take a look at some new ways to increase your engagement on Facebook.

Use your cover image.

Good news, Facebook has relaxed its rules on what can go on your cover image. You now can include a call to action, and price and purchase information on your cover image. Of course, you will want to make sure the cover image you select accurately represents your brand, showcases your book and captures the attention of the audience you want to target. Keep in mind that you want to connect with your audience on an emotional level so they feel like they really know you. Even though it's a Facebook business page, communicate on it as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with your readers.

Host a promotion or giveaway.

Facebook used to require third-party apps to run giveaways and promotions on Facebook, but now you can host them directly on your Facebook business page. There are so many ways to promote your book and engage readers. Just to give you some ideas, you can write a blog about your book, share the blog post on Facebook and ask people to comment on it to be registered to win a copy of your book. Or post an image of your book with a short description and ask you Facebook audience to like or comment to be registered to win a free book. Consider giving away one copy of your book every day for a week to build momentum and boost engagement. The great news is, you are an author so you already have the creativity you can tap into! One more example: If your book has a theme of hope, ask your Facebook fans to share their best story about hope as a way to win a copy of your book. Engaging your followers on a personal level builds relationships and makes your Facebook page more compelling.

A little bit about the rules:

The only thing you cannot do (per the new Facebook guidelines) is to require your fans to share to win. You can encourage your fans to share your offer; you just can't use the share function for eligibility to win. If you don't yet have much of a following on Facebook, consider offering a $25 gift card to a bookstore as incentive for people to enter your giveaway. Your giveaway doesn't have to coincide with the launch of your book. You can run giveaways anytime: before your book is published to build up buzz, during launch, or tie giveaways to a special event or holiday. (Running giveaways only applies to Facebook business pages and not personal Facebook pages.)

To ensure you meet with Facebook's rules and regulations, add this to any contest you do post about on your timeline: *This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook.

While promotions directly on your timeline are simple to run, and can easily translate into increased engagement for you, there is one drawback -- you won't be able to collect emails to build your list as you can with a third-party app. There are benefits to running both types of giveaways, so play around with both and see what works best for you. Facebook timeline giveaways offer fast, immediate engagement whereas a third-party app can grow your email list. The best long-term strategy is to use both types of giveaways.

Just ask.

There are so many different ways you can build relationships and market your book and business on Facebook, you just might miss some of the easy strategies to engage with your followers. Just ask for what you want! Direct calls to action on Facebook are extremely effective. Ask your fans to share, comment, or like a post. You can ask your followers to please help you spread the word about your book or your new Facebook page. Even just a simple, "I'd love to hear your feedback," asking your audience to interact, means there is a better chance they will actually do it.

Make it immediate.

Offer incentives for people to act now. Use terms like "act now," "on sale today" only or "be the first to receive this special offer" so you can instantly grab the attention of your followers. Use the immediacy of social media to your benefit. Consider offering a free-chapter for a limited time only or offer your book for free to the first five people who like your post. You have lots of options to promote your brand and book. Tap into your creativity and you are off and running!

Have fun with your social media efforts on Facebook and remember the more you invest in your relationships and provide value to your readers, the more effective your Facebook engagement will be for the long term.

Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, a digital publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. For online publicity, book publishing and social media news, follow Fauzia on Twitter: @FauziaBurke. To talk with FSB and ask your book publicity questions, please join us on Facebook.