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?