A lot of today's tips are just my personal advice based on my personal experience. Your mileage may vary (YMMV) as they say but I think you'll find these basics really are the bare bolts foundation for creating an effective presence on Facebook as an Indie Author. Click through the jump-break to get started.
1. Profile versus Page
Although a lot of non-techie people don't really care about distinguishing between the words "Profile" and "Page" on Facebook, the two terms are quite different. It's strange that writers in particular (of all people) can use such completely different words as though they are interchangeable. That couldn't be further from the truth! Shame on any of you writers who freely mince those words. Poor little words, come on over here. I'll protect you! ^_^
The two words apply to completely different situations which grant visitors completely different access to the associated Facebook account. Notice when you use an app, it cannot access the "account" of a Page; it must have access to your personal Profile. That right there should tell you Profiles and Pages are not the same. If not, let me make it perfectly clear.
Profiles are for individual people.
Profiles can join groups (Pages cannot) and
Profiles can "friend" other Profiles
(Pages cannot friend people, only "like" other Pages).
So why get a Page? Because an Indie Author is not a person. You are a brand, a public figure, a business. Your interaction with the public should be handled personally but not be personal. Your Indie Author self should be a Page, not a Profile. Just one catch: you must have a Profile, and log into it, to create a Page and you must attach your Page to your Profile as an Admin of the Page. This might change at some point soon. Stay tuned!
2. How Many Pages?
Your Profile can create a number of Pages. I think there's a limit, but I've never heard of it being reached yet. Although Profiles can only have 5000 Friends, Pages can have an unlimited number of Fans (people/Profiles or other Pages who "like" the Page). Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php to get started if you don't already have a Page.
You might be happy creating one Page for yourself (under your real name or pen name, if you use one) but I'd suggest you create at least two: 1 for your name (preceded or followed by the word "Author" or something else to distinguish it from your personal Profile) and a 2d for your book or series of books.
Forex, I created the "Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer" Page when I first joined Facebook in 2009, but I just created the Banbha Series Page today as I was writing this blog (There's nothing on that page yet but I'm going to figure out how to share snippets there if it kills me!)
I also have a Page for my SciFi Series (The Phoenician Series) and I'll probably create a Page for any standalone books I turn out, too. Having a Page for each publication where you might accumulate fans increases your product's visibility and the likelihood your fans can find you (refer back to Mark Coker's article on "discoverability." Random browsing is up near the top of the list of ways readers will end up buying your book). Browsing "randomly" on Facebook for things to do that look interesting is kind of the "point" of "hanging out on Facebook" for some people.
Note: One really nice change Facebook has made for Pages with the introduction of Timeline is that now you do not have to wait to get a minimum of 25 fans before you can customize your URL. My Banbha Series Page is located at http://www.facebook.com/BanbhaSeries and I am its only fan. I'm so lonely!! Please go like the Banbha Series Page for me? ^)^
3. What Do Pages Do?
Although your Page cannot behave like a Profile, it can do a lot of things Profiles cannot. Your Page can install apps that customize the landing "page" (screen) your visitors see when they first discover your existence. Profiles can only show new arrivals your Wall and Info (or nothing at all, which is what I do with my privatized Profile). Pages can have contest tabs and welcome screens that play videos or link to external sites (like a bookseller's) and generally engage new arrivals - welcoming them to the Page's community.
And that should be the point of your Page: to build community, as opposed to simply encouraging a one-on-one contact. Larger corporations have mistakenly seen Pages as yet another method of marketing--they plaster a brochure onto a tab and call it content. If there's no value-added to your fans, it's not content, it's advertising. In order to build community, you need to not only "allow" your fans to post to your Page; you need to encourage it!
I've just recently installed an app called "Fan of the Week" on my Pages for just this purpose. It's not the only way I try to encourage activity, but it's a passive and fun little method I'm enjoying. "Fan of the Week" randomly selects a name of a fan from the pool of people who are active on the Page this week. Anyone who "likes" a post or comment or who adds a comment of their own (or posts to the Wall) will go into the pool of potential "Fan of the Week" candidates. The only ones not considered are those who are not active at all. The weekly pick is not necessarily the most-active fan, but rather a random pick from all active fans.
There are other apps to install and I'll be exploring (and blogging about) some of them over the coming weeks. There are literally hundreds of apps you can install. There's even an app you can use to find apps to install! I sense this Facebookisms collection of posts becoming another series. What do you think?
I won't be back until next Monday when I bring you another entry in the Positioning for Indie Authors series. Catch yesterday's entry here.