16. May, 2017

A Facebook Party Guide: Why Host One?

Thanks for tuning in again to the second in this tri-series of blogs on Facebook Parties and what on earth to do with them. Last week, I kicked off with a description of WHAT to expect from a Facebook Party. I’m hoping to de-shroud the mystery around the format.

In this post, I’ll explain WHY the format might be a good one for authors and bloggers, looking after their own PR.

A Facebook Group Celebrating a Birthday or Anniversary

It just so happens I attended another Facebook Party during the week, as a guest, so I’m well-stocked with experiential advice. The party I refer to was an anniversary celebration for a children’s writers' group. The virtual get-together was used as an internal group promotion, to strengthen the collegiate networking spirit between members. As with all Facebook Groups, members can dip in and out of conversations, often contributing to a ‘bystander’ feeling, rather than a sense of 'ownership' re the group’s objectives.

By publicising a 1-hour slot for a Facebook Party on a certain date, at a certain time, it’s a kind of friendly ‘Call to Action’ from the hosts of the group, giving all members a chance to actively take part in a live discussion. Using a Facebook Party to bring together an already targeted group of followers, is a great tool for strengthening engagement, if done right. I’ll talk more about HOW to pull off a successful party like this, next week. The party I attended gave me some great ideas, I'm keen to share.

A Facebook Party Promoting the Objectives and Services of a Group

An industry group for writers might market itself as a provider of services to its members. It is therefore faced with the ongoing challenge of how to engage members with its information and commercial products.

I’m a member of a great industry group for children’s authors and illustrators, though its Facebook page is more of an information service, rather than a page on which members can freely post, share and self-promote. The first Facebook Party I attended was held as a Birthday celebration for the group but it’s PR purpose was very different from the anniversary party I’ve described above.

The host of the party was skillful in designing the activity as an opportunity for members to become more aware of the resources and services available to them. I don’t want to go too far into the ‘HOW’ of Facebook parties this week but this host chose quiz questions (with book prizes) that mostly required a search of the group’s website. What a clever way to direct targeted traffic to your website (during the party) and highlight your services (commercial or otherwise).

A Facebook Party Promoting an Author’s Wares – the Cover Reveal

If you’ve not yet attended a Facebook Party, you might be wondering if it’s a live video-feed, Q&A format. While these live feeds are used to great effect by writers with public profile, the Facebook Party format is a little different. It’s more structured and less reliant on live video streaming, and often a better tool for emerging wordsmiths with smaller fan bases.

New 'indie' author Michelle Dennise, introduced me to the Cover Reveal as a reason to host a Facebook Party. I put my hand up for one of her 15-min guest author slots. Michelle’s Cover Reveal Party page is still live, if you’d like to take a poke around.

As an individual marketing his/her writing business online, as opposed to a group sharing common interests, the most likely reason to use the Facebook Party format is when you have a new product to promote.

Think a virtual book launch and the Cover Reveal Party is a good example. You might (and hopefully do have) a dedicated Author/Blogger Facebook Page but consistent engagement can be hard to garner. You can set up an event on your page, or publish a separate Party Page, especially useful if you are co-hosting with other authors and need a neutral space. The objective is then that this page will attract its own legion of followers before, during and post-event, all the while cross-posting back to your main Author Page.

When you are a new or relatively unknown author, it’s going to be a tough ask to draw a huge amount of traffic to your Party Page. On the other hand, this might be the best reason to host a party. Why not celebrate your launch or reveal your book cover ? It will create a buzz around you, more so than if you are just sending promotional posts out into the ether.

We’ll talk more about this next week but this is where inviting other 'indie' writers to co-host can be a boon. The aim should be to pool your follower base and cross promote the party as much as possible. and after all, a party of one is no fun!

The Cover Reveal Party is best timed immediately prior to your book launch with the goal of attracting pre-orders and followers to your Author Page, post-party.

Next week in the blog...

So, now that I've planted the seed of hosting your own Facebook Party, you’ll be raring to go but don’t rush in quite yet. If you don’t execute a Facebook Party right, you could damage your personal or group brand. None of us want this.

Drawing on my Facebook Party experiences, I’m going to highlight some key areas that will make a difference to how you come across in your live online platform. I can’t wait to share with you.

Have a good week! Cool