Monday, August 10, 2015

Facebook Groups - Not Just for Cat Pictures!

How many of you who are writers belong to Facebook groups? Show of hands?

Hmm, ok. A little difficult to do virtually, but my unscientific results show Facebook groups are an under-utilized resource for writers and if you're NOT using groups, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you should.

There are 2 ways to use Facebook groups as a writer. Today I'll talk about using Facebook groups as a member of a peer group (vs using them as an author to share exclusive content, excerpts, giveaways, etc with your readers. Which is also cool and a great subject for another post. Note to self.). I'll also illustrate with screen shots b/c I used to work in training and development and how-to habits are hard to break.

There are groups for everything! Are you a middle-grade writer? Type middle grade writers in the handy dandy search box at the top of the screen and press Enter.


Your results will default to Top, but if you look over at More (all the way over on the right) and click on the drop down, you'll see Groups as one of your options to filter.


Lo and behold! Results!

Admittedly, a search for middle grade writers yields about five results. But, search for MG authors, middle grade fiction and your list expands. Search just for writers and the results are seemingly endless. You can scroll for ages!

Advantages to belonging to a genre-specific group vs a larger group? In my opinion, it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for input specific to your genre, whether it be craft-specific or publishing-specific, a genre group is probably what you're looking for. If you're looking for exposure to a wide variety of authors at various stages in their publishing careers, a larger group works well. You can get both in one group and it doesn't hurt to speed date a few groups before deciding which ones work for you. (And by speed date I mean, get notifications for all groups before you decide which ones you don't want to receive notifications for EVERY single time.)

One note -- size matters. I belong to 37 Facebook groups (yikes!), but I'm only really active in 4 of them. The others I sift through when I'm procrastinating, uh, I mean, catching up on social media, but the 4 I belong to are, in a word, ace. Of those, 3 of them are small groups (less than 20 members) and one is 770 and climbing. For me, the small groups work better, but I love scrolling through the feed of the large group because the amount of knowledge shared there is unbeatable and, well, the more you know...

Lots of groups are public, meaning you can join on your own. But don't be put off by the Closed Group status! See that handy dandy Join button there? You can click it and request membership. I'd recommend clicking first on the name of the group b/c it will likely tell you what the joining criteria actually is, but most groups aren't closed to be exclusive, but they're closed b/c they want you to read that criteria and make sure it's the right place for you. Also, be warned, a lot of groups state they're NOT promo groups (with exceptions like release days, price drops, etc) and admins don't hesitate to kick people out who violate the rules.



Once you decide to become a joiner, the best way to acclimate is to scroll through the posts and then dive in. Introduce yourself. Ask a question. Share a link. Check the files section to see if there are any docs where you can add your info to the group. The huge group I belong to has a doc listing everyone's Twitter ID, website and FB author page, which is a great place to promote without being all promo-spammy. 

And, the more you reap, the more you sow. Cheesy but true. A few weeks ago I attended the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in NYC and met lots of the virtual friends I'd made from a couple of the small Facebook groups I belong to. I actually shared a room with 2 girls I'd never met IRL, only via FB groups. It sounds like the premise of a bad horror movie, but it was great. Really. I also met a bunch of people from the big huge group I belong to and every time I read their badge we'd both be like, "Hey! I know you!" It felt like one big happy reunion -- but with people I'd never actually met before.

I'll close by saying I know FB, itself, isn't for everyone and Groups can absolutely be yet another time suck in the never-ending vortex of social media. But, for me, it allows a level of interaction not possible on Twitter and I value the connections and the knowledge I gain there so much, it's worth it. I'm really curious what other people's experiences are with FB Groups for professional reasons -- writing or otherwise? Do you think they're worth it or more trouble than they're worth? Looking forward to your comments!

11 comments:

  1. Great post, Brenda! I'll admit that I'm one of those that's not a part of any FB groups for my writing. I've now added it to my to-do-list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I said above, it can be a BIG black hole and you can spend all your time joining in fascinating conversations in your groups instead of writing. BUT it's also a place to really engage and when you find a group that works for you, the time feels like an investment.

      Delete
  2. What an outstanding post, Brenda! I was always anti-FB group but once I joined a few (and after I culled the chaff, just like you recommended) I really started to get a lot out of it. Looking forward to your follow-up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Do you also do a FB group for your readers? I don't, but I have a lot of friends who do with great success.

      Delete
    2. Hmmm. I haven't. I have a FB page and I wish I had more interaction, of course. I guess it might be worth the experiment...

      Delete
    3. Right. I'm thinking about it for when my next book releases. The FB reader groups I belong to have A LOT more engagement than author FB pages.

      Delete
  3. The quest for a good FB group is on! Thanks a ton, Brenda!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really want a YA mystery writer FB group and have to find one. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I belong to a YA group, but it's not mystery-specific. Young Adult Authors Unite is the name of the group and it's a closed group, but accepting new members, I believe. It's not super active, but it's gaining traction.

      Delete
  5. I belong to many FB groups - my main focuses are writing and unschooling. In particular, I enjoy my local NNWM (NaNoWriMo) group, and Virtual Write-ins. Our local group meets weekly in person, and we use the group to post schedules, events, inspiration, information, entertainment, critiques...and Monday is our designated Shameless Self-Promotion Day (while the rest of the week is delightfully promo-free.

    Over the last year or two, I've found that most of my FB time is spent in groups, or with a small circle of good friends. And, like you, I've met lots of people IRL I knew first in groups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meeting IRL is definitely an added bonus. I belong to a small FB group of NW England writers and a few of us met once with plans to meet again this fall. It's nice knowing people are nearby. I have to say, my FB time is increasingly spent in groups, too. It feels more focused to me when I already spend too much time on social media.

      Delete

 
Blogger Template by Designer Blogs