The Importance of Facebook
What is Facebook?
It is an online social network that has over 500 million members around the world. If it were a country, it would be in the top 5 biggest in the world and has a population close to that of the USA and Europe combined. So imagine ignoring the US and European markets for your book and you get a feel for its size.
It enables people to have 'virtual' friends that may share the same interests, and it is also a good medium in which to interact with 'real life friends'. Facebook also holds an incredibly deep level of information about its members, more so than any other organisation in history. Most importantly it holds information on people's interests, and for us we can quickly and easily identify those who are fans of Sherlock Holmes. Content that interests you (from your 'friends' and anything else you link with on Facebook) appears on your own personal Wall - the wall can be seen as the flow of filtered information defined by your choices - i.e. if you are friends with someone and they post a message to all their friends, you will see it briefly on your wall. Likewise with any pages or groups you engage with.
Imagine getting all the daily newspapers from your city, and having someone cut out only the articles you might be interested in (by subject, location, personality etc) - imagine how much more productive reading the papers would be - you'd get all the papers instead of one (if they were all free). Used properly, Facebook can be an extremly efficient aggregator of interesting content as well as an instant and simple mass communication tool.
Facebook Pages - are set up by individuals and organisations to bring together people with a common interest. Our main Facebook Page for Holmes Books is https://www.facebook.com/BooksSherlockHolmes . To join a page you simply 'like' that page - to see how many people have done that look on the left of the page.
Do you have to be social on Facebook?
Several authors have flatly refused to go onto Facebook as they have a preconception that it means that either a) they have to share personal information or b) they have to interact with unknown people. This is a misconception. You only have to engage with Facebook to the level at which you are comfortable, and in fact you can do it virtually anonymously if you so choose.
Many people split their work and personal life very carefully on Facebook - like almost 100% of major celebrities. We always recommend you adopt the tightest security settings, and where possible set up a separate page for your book(s) so that you can create a clear distinction between your personal friends and 'Facebook friends', and somewhere where fans can interact with you without having to do that in person. I for example have hundreds of Facebook friends, most of whom I would not share personal information with so I don't load much personal information onto Facebook - I don't share my address, but I am happy to share my marital status as quite frankly a couple of Google searches on a name as unusual as mine and you wouldn't need to be Sherlock Holmes to work out who I am married to. If you choose to stay off Facebook though, you are missing the easiest free tool you have in your armoury. If you still have concerns, feel free to contact me to go into more depth.
How does MX Publishing use Facebook?
In a number of ways. The primary thing we do is that we use Facebook to get visibility of our authors to the Sherlock Holmes fans around the world. We also use other channels (like websites and Twitter) to cross-promote to and from Facebook too. Whereas the societies are great to reach serious fans - lets call them 'serious' fans (between them several tens of thousands), Facebook collects together'light' fans in their millions. As joining a Facebook page only takes one click, good pages can grow quite fast. Our page now has over 3,800 fans. Below we include a list of important Facebook pages - some have tens of thousands, some hundreds of thousands of members.
Some specific actions we undertake:
1) Grow the Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle Books Page - this is our very own real estate on Facebook - our turf. Due to the nature of the page it generally attracts more serious fans - as such its worth us spending some advertising money attracting people to it - we gain 40-50 new members a month from advertising alone.
2) Support our Holmes friends - we have some wonderful supporters out there from podcasts to websites, bloggers to non-MX authors who recommend and support us - helping them grow their fan base on Facebook has a big benefit back to us.
3) Drive traffic to our authors blogs by posting links to their interesting articles - e.g.
Great new article from Dr Dan - Apochryphal Sherlock Holmes http://bakerstreetbeat.blogspot.com/2012/01/apochryphal-sherlock-holmes.html
This is often called peer recommendation. Dan posting up a link about an interesting article on his blog gets some traffic, other people doing it (like ourselves and other authors) is recevied much stronger by fans - think of it as independent peer recommendation.
A couple of notes on serious and light fans.
Serious fans buy lots of books on Holmes. They are the most discerning and loyal and they have the greatest attention to detail. They buy both fiction and non-fiction, but generally they mostly prefer traditional fiction. Most are familiar with the canon. They may be members of a local society or scion.
Lightfans buy mostly fiction, though occaisionally they will buy non-fiction like travel guides. They don’t tend to pick up on all the canononical detail and are less picky about being traditional. The majority have arrived with Holmes from the movies or TV - few will be familiar with the canon. They are unlikley to be a member of any society. They are also likely to be Dr.Who/James Bond/a.n.other fans to the same level - ie. limited loyalty to Holmes other than they like it.
Our Friends on Facebook
The good news is that as we've been around in Holmes for 5 years now, we have lots of friends and supporters - most of whom have Facebook as a key or main channel of communication to Holmes fans. It's worth noting that our friends tend to have moreserious fans than light [with the exception of Sherlockology who are garnering lots of BBC Sherlock fans - who you could argue are 'light+' as their profile is more discerning than the movie fans. BBC Sherlock is also watched by the serious fans too, so Sherlockology are a very important partner for MX and have helped us a lot. Here are some we recommend you a) like, b) support.
The Fan Sites
All you need to know about Sherlock Holmes https://www.facebook.com/AllYouNeedToKnowAboutSherlockHolmes
Modern Sherlock https://www.facebook.com/ModernSherlock
Better Holmes and Gardens https://www.facebook.com/BetterHolmesandGardens
Baker Street Babes (in addition to the interviews etc they also now have an MX Shop and have appointed 3 reviewers to review the entire MX Holmes back catalogue) https://www.facebook.com/TheBakerStreetBabes
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere https://www.facebook.com/IHearofSherlock
General Facebook pages good for posting links to other MX author's articles ['light' fan numbers in brackets]
Holmes Sherlock (34,000) - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Holmes-Sherlock/90683230875
Sherlock Holmes Museum (29,000) https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Sherlock-Holmes-Museum/5701497375
Sherlock Holmes Movie UK (138,000) https://www.facebook.com/sherlockholmesmovieuk
Jeremy Brett (12,000) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sherlock-Holmes-Jeremy-Brett/17699655759
Conan Doyle (49,000) https://www.facebook.com/Sir.Arthur.Conan.Doyle
Sherlock BBC1 (25,000) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sherlock-BBC-One/115902078458835
+ many more
Ones to watch
The Well Read Sherlockian - https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Well-Read-Sherlockian/294187613961282
The Great Sherlock Holmes Debate - page set up for our debates https://www.facebook.com/GreatSherlockHolmesDebate
Facebook isn't something you should despise or fear - in the context of selling more books it’s a wonderful tool. It's also quite fun if you do it right. Best of all its (almost) free to use. I say almost as it takes time, and time costs. But if you make it fun it can be more entertaining than a chore - and who knows, you may make that rare discovery of a real life friend through it too. As peer recommendation is the most powerful, we have a greater collective opportunity here than individual.
Cross promoting other MX authors books will ultimately resuld in more sales of your own - after all, in the back of every book is an advert for all the others. But more importantly, what goes around comes around as long as everyone gets invovled.