This post is part of the series on marketing in the bazillion-book marketplace that Mari Christie and I are co-posting (her Marketing Mondays and my Tuesday Talks, thanks to the spinning earth).
The other day, someone asked me if Facebook parties sold books. Which, of course, isn’t the point of them. As Mari and I have said time and again in these posts, marketing is about making friends, and then about turning at least some of them into fans. And Facebook parties are a great opportunity to do that.
This post is not about the philosophy though. Instead, here are some of the techniques we’ve picked up for hosting at Facebook parties. We’d love to know yours!
Before the party
To create interest in the party, I post for weeks beforehand. Post stuff people want to know, not just relentless self-promotion. In the run-up to the party, you want them to know that you’ll be offering entertainment, so demonstrate that. (Show, don’t tell, right?)
My theme for the launch party for Farewell to Kindness was a country fair. I posted the songs that village singers might have sung during such a fair. I posted food people might have eaten at a fair, and games and activities that might have been on offer. I asked questions and invited comment. I also posted information about each of the guest hosts and their books. And, yes, I posted excerpts.
For A Baron for Becky, I posted a series of vignettes on courtesans through history, as well as guest hosts and excerpts. And I invited people to post pictures of what they would wear to a Courtesan’s Ball.
To prepare for the actual day, whether I’m hosting or simply doing a takeover for another author, I write myself a run-time, with the time and the text for each post and the names of the images I’m going to use. I put the posting time above each post. It might slip a minute or two on the day, but the times guide me. If interaction is high, I might skip a post, but I’d rather have too much than too little!
I put everything I need into a folder—or a series of folders if the event is longer than an hour.
Mari swears by putting the images into an album on her Facebook profile, and then linking to them. This saves loading time on the day.
If I’m host, I send a guest author checklist to those who have agreed to party with me. It has some of the tips in this post, tells them their timeslot, and asks them for their bio, the name and blurb of the book they intend to promote, and what (if anything) they plan to give away.
What kind of posts?
Remember that your goal is to make friends, so post links to your social media. I always post information about the Bluestocking Belles and any events we have coming up as a group, such as Book Club.
Post games—if you attend a few parties, you’ll find out which ones get the most comments and interaction.
Post questions. If you can relate them to your excerpts, all the better. For example, here’s a scene of a botched proposal; tell us your proposal story.
Ask people to post photos. Hot guys are usually a favourite, or suggested actors to play your hero and heroine, or anything else you might like.
At the event
My big tip is to keep the posts coming. When we did the Name Release party for the Bluestocking Belles anthology, we had three minute slots and a 30 minute event. And around 15 posts in total. Fast and furious! I’ve just done a one hour takeover, and I prepared and used 12 posts. Party hard and have a great time.
With busy parties, your posts can soon sink down the event. To make sure I can easily get back to my posts so I can comment (and later find winners), I copy the url as soon as I’ve created the post and paste it into my runtime. If you want to try this, just click on the date/time below your name on the post and it’ll bring up that post so you can copy the url. Then the back arrow will take you back to the party.
And get into those comment streams! If you’re the host, you’ll be commenting on your guest author’s posts, keeping the conversation going. I usually do a hit and run when I’m a guest host, because of the spinning earth. Parties are almost always during my working day. But I love it when guest authors arrive early and stick around to play.
After the party
Select and contact your winners as soon as you can, and don’t forget to thank the team who helped you put on the party (your host if you’re a guest author; your guest authors if you’re a host).