Is There too Much Promotion on Facebook?

I got a message from a woman on Facebook the other day asking if I’d be willing to write a post about too much promotion on sites like Facebook. At first, I thought this would be an easy task. I detest all the self-promotion that goes on at the site, especially in the groups.

Some promotion is understandable. Pages, of course, are all about “soft sell” promotion, and so any promotion that goes on there is part of the package.  Mostly I use my fan page for announcements, such as kindle sales, and for discussions. (You can find the current discussion here: Do your characters always act at maximum capacity? Should they?)

What people post on their own profile, of course, is up to them. Self-promotion is sometimes the least offensive thing they post on their profiles. How many times can the same dang too-annoyingly-cute-for-words animal video or cloyingly sweet sentimental photo/saying be shared? Sometimes the same thing shows up in the feed day after day after day after day. . . But I digress.

I thought I did a lot of promoting on my profile, in which case I would be the last person to talk about too much promotion on Facebook, but here is a list of the last twelve things I posted on my Facebook profile:

  • Two posts were about Malcolm’s Book Bits and Notions, a great compendium of links to publishing/writing/book news, which everyone in the industry should subscribe to.
  • Two posts were brags — 1) I just posted my 700th blog post!!! and 2) My blog is ranked 177,350 of all blogs and websites in the United States. People stay an average of 4 minutes. And based on internet averages, ptbertram.wordpress.com is visited more frequently by females who are graduate school educated and browse this site from work. At least according to Alexa.com
  • Two posts were pithy observations: 1) At the grocery store today, I saw a book written by someone I met here on facebook when they were first starting out. An odd commentary of our times when hitting the grocery store endstacks means hitting the big time. 2) I doubled my memory!! Facebook works faster now. I don’t.
  • One was an announcement for my live chat on gather.com: Maximum Capacity — No Whine, Just Champagne… | Gather (Same discussion as on my facebook page, but with different participants, and different comments and conclusions)
  • One was an announcement of an article (written by me) that was published in Angie’s Diary: Rhythm in Writing | Angie’s DIARY
  • One was an announcement of the Second Wind Publishing Short Story contest: Short Story Contest. No Entry Fee!
  • The remaining three were links to my blog posts.

Does any of that constitute promotion? In some respects, all of it does, but it’s not blatant. At least I don’t think it is. Maybe you have a different opinion on the matter.

Nor do I promote in the groups I moderate. I post links to interviews I do with other other authors, I welcome new members to the group, and sometimes I post questions to get people to talk. Mostly what I do as moderator is delete everyone’s promotions. The group decided to ban self-promotion except on Saturday because they were sick of it, but apparently everyone assumes that self-promotion is what everyone else does, not what they themselves do. So they continue to post links to their books, links to reviews of their books, requests to “like” their page, and all the other blatantly self-promoting things that we all do on occasion but hate when anyone else does.  Instead of just turning everyone loose on Saturday, I’ve turned Saturday into a self-promotion extravaganza, which has become a lot of fun, and maybe people sell a few books from it, but still, it’s promoting to other authors. We need to be promoting to readers, not each other. This is a concept many authors don’t seem to get. Nor do they seem to understand that being generous and promoting other authors does not take sales away from themselves. I keep plugging away, though, trying to build a kinder, more giving group, one that is not so deep into self-centered promotion.

So, when the woman asked me to write an aritcle, I thought I knew what to say: that there was too much self-promotion on Facebook. Anything interesting gets buried beneath the constant barrage of “Look at me! Buy my book!” But . . . and here’s the sad truth . . . for some people, this constant self-promotion is catapulting them into star status on Amazon. Just because I think there is too much promotion on Facebook, doesn’t mean that there is too much from other people’s points of view.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of articles about promoting on Facebook, looking for the magic ingredient that I seem to be missing. The only thing I can see that I am missing is a willingness to constantly and blatantly plug my books. One guy maxed out five profiles and made a fortune.  (Of course, that fortune came from the money he made off his book telling how to max out your profile, but it was still a fortune.) I was near maximum capacity on my profile once, but didn’t want to have to switch solely to a page — I like the interaction on the profile — so I unfriended all the blatant promoters such as the multi-level marketers, the people trying to sell me self-improvement books, people urging me to buy their book that will tell me how to make money on facebook, the people who had maxed out their profiles or were about to, and I was left with about 2,000 friends. I’m trying to make friends with my friends, to see if in the long run that will help sell books. And if it doesn’t? I’ve still gained a lot of online friends.

This has turned out to be a rather lengthy post when in fact all I wanted was to get your opinion. Do you think there is too much promotion on Facebook? What would an acceptable form of promotion be? Do you mind all the promotion? Do you do a bit (or a lot) of promotion yourself? If so, what do you do to promote yourself?

10 Responses to “Is There too Much Promotion on Facebook?”

  1. Rod Marsden Says:

    I am busy working on a novel right now. I should be a better salesman for myself I suppose. But I get a bigger kick out of doing the actual writing that I hope people will appreciate when completed. Sometimes I feel that in just chewing the fat with others writers I am doing the best promoting I can. They and readers who don’t write get to know me and I get to know them. It is a more pleasurable was of acting at least for me than blatant advertising all the time. That being said, I don’t know what the overall answer or answers to this should be.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Rod, it’s a perfect answer, at least from my perspective. I also think that chewing the fat with other writers is the best sort of promotion. (And what I’m trying to get across to the members of the Suspense/Thriller Writers group on Facebook. Not many people click on a link to a book they know nothing about, but if they get to know the author, then the link becomes not another annoying self-promotion, but an announcement.

      And anyway, the more books you have published, the more you you will sell when you get discovered, so sometimes, it is important to spend more time writing than promoting.

    • dellanioakes Says:

      Rod, I totally agree. I’m much more apt to read a book posted by a friend than I am to buy something from a complete stranger who does nothing but self-promote.

      I post announcements when I update my blogs, when I have a radio show (to promote other authors) and that’s about all the actual marketing I do.

  2. Writer Jobs Says:

    Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much.

  3. joylene Says:

    I worry about this all the time. And the truth is I don’t really understand the underlying mechanics to Facebook or Twitter. I keep reminding myself to study the files, but I’m so caught up in writing, editing, blogging, I haven’t gotten to them yet. Maybe I should. I wrote two good books, but no way am I a bestseller. So, obviously I’m doing something wrong.

    Good article, Pat.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Joylene, to a certain extent, I do understand the underlying mechanics, and I do a lot of research on how to promote, but obviously I am doing something wrong. Actually, for every person who supposedly does it “right” and makes it big, there are millions who do the same thing and remain in obscurity. So much of it is luck. All we can do is be poised to catch the wave if it hits.

      I’ve also been watching some of the blog posts that go viral, and very seldom are they anything I am interested in. Most often, they are funny posts, but I can’t write that kind of funny — my humor is more of an ironic rather than raunchy bent. I did read something interesting in an interview I posted on my interview blog — she says it takes 6-9 years after publication to become a successful author. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I do know it takes a long time, so I’m playing around with my interview blog and my excerpt blog and my facebook groups, trying to get to know people. Besides, what else do I have to do? With J. gone, my time is my own.

      • joylene Says:

        Right after I wrote this, a lady called to ask if I’d like to attend their book club. They’d just finished reading Broken but not Dead and were gathering on Tuesday to discuss it. What an opportunity. But I can’t go. I’ve two sick cats and we’ll be at the Vets on Tuesday. Wrong city.

        So, you’re right. It takes time. It took 25 years to get published. Suppose I should be a bit more patient. Haha. I’m hopefully not going anywhere.

  4. dave ebright Says:

    Great timing for this post, Pat – At the urging of my wonderful wife, I did some self promotion today on FB & a few other sites. VERY RARE. Absolutely detest the promo part of this racket. I only click on links if I know the author, otherwise I don’t waste my time. I use FB to stay in touch with the kids I coached (now adults) & other friends or writers – but most of it’s just a compilation of silly comments. My blog mentions the books a little more, & there’s links on the sidebar, but I think the blog offers more of a glimpse into my wacked out world. I have deleted folks for the in your face non-stop links & promotion stuff.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Dave, I was pleased to see your book covers in the Suspense/Thriller Writers’ Group today. For the most part, no one clicks on links to books unless they know the author, and often not even then. It’s generally a waste of time to post the links, but since I started the Saturday Extravaganza, people do seem to pay attention when otherwise they wouldn’t.

      You did one other great thing for promotion today — you sent me your book! I won’t write a review about it, (I stink at writing reviews) but I will talk about your book.

      For promotion, I still stick mostly to my blogs. I try to offer something to people — interesting interviews on one blog, articles about writing, life, and the writing life on this one — in the hopes they will see my book covers on the sidebar, but otherwise, I seem to be better at organizing groups and group discussions than in promoting. One day, perhaps . . .

  5. mickeyhoffman Says:

    I hardly go to the groups now because all I see are “ads.” Whether by self or someone else, that’s not why I originally joined those groups. I wanted to talk with people who supposedly shared some interests. So yes, I think there is way too much self-promotion.


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