Learning Facebook Marketing from 50 Shades of Grey

When I set out to grade five author Facebook Pages, I wasn’t quite sure what I would find.

Mostly, I expected a vast treasure trove of disappointment. Mostly, I wasn’t disappointed in discovering that disappointment.

Until I took a look at the Facebook Page of E.L. James, author of 50 Shades of Grey.

Now, I’m not really convinced that Facebook is a useful tool for a self-promoting author who hasn’t published anything. After all, you can’t market hype about something no one has ever heard of before.

But once your book does come out, there are ways you can create an interesting, exciting Facebook Page for it.

Let’s take a look at how the 50 Shades of Grey team does it:

1. Personal Photos


Sharing photos of yourself on Facebook may seem creepy, but it builds a connection with your potential audience. If someone sees your book on Amazon and you put a Facebook URL there, there’s a good chance that they’ll click it.

These kinds of photos can help deepen your book, too, and immersing your readers is the main thing you want to think about when marketing on Facebook. Explain how this photo of you relates to a scene in the book, a character, an inspirational quote, anything

2. Inspirational Photos


Here’s where you can start getting fancy with Facebook: photos of things that are in your book, kind of, can add a whole new dimension to it.

The bonus of really powerful photos is that they can be shared beyond your book’s Facebook Page, in other contexts, and then friends of fans may track back to your Page to check out the book.

Case in point:


3. Author notes and designs


Again, you want to find ways to immerse your readers in the book. This intriguing glimpse into the one-and-only Christian Grey’s apartment doesn’t just entertain readers of the book, it can serve to intrigue prospective readers.

4. Content with other Pages


Sure, not all of us can aspire to having cupcakes crafted in honor of our books, but every author can root through other Facebook photos from similarly themed Pages and share them onto their Pages.

Shane Collins, editor-in-chief of The Speculative Edge, does a great job of this when he markets the magazine on Facebook. It results in extra fans and extra subscribers, too.

So what does a “similarly themed” Page mean?

That’s easy: if your book has orcs in it, share things about Lord of the Rings and World of Warcraft.

Is it about a woman trying to find her family? Share everything from articles to comics about family issues and relationships.

The main question is what is my potential reader going to be looking at on Facebook? 

Because it’s certainly not going to be your book’s Facebook Page… unless the Page has other stuff on it that they already use Facebook for.

5. Highlight parts of your book that stick out


There’s no harm in a little self-promotion here and there, either. This can be a little less shareable across social media, unless it’s a particularly poignant piece of writing.

In particular, quotes and descriptions should be pasted over a relevant image. Confusing, right?

Well, if your setting is a little desert island, write a description of the island and put that onto an image of the island. Beautiful!

Are you writing a scathing satire about modern-day American politics? Post a paragraph of that wholesome goodness onto the face of an unsuspecting politician who’s recently been in the news. That’s more likely to get shared.

Welcome to the world of periphery marketing

You have to remember that your target readers, whether they’re on Facebook or somewhere else, aren’t looking for your book.

Instead, your book needs to be that thing that they catch out of the corner of their eye when they’re looking at something else.

The breakdown 

1. Strategic psychology is the writer’s main tool when creating an active, vibrant Facebook Page. Think carefully about what your potential readers will be using Facebook for — other than trying to find your book — and then create a strategy about how that content can build up to your book. 

2. Book-first Pages are failures (that’s why I graded J.K. Rowling’s Facebook Page a ‘D’). Your book should be the organic core of an apple with a shiny, glossy skin of fun, visual, exciting, daily stuff that ever so loosely relates to the content of your book.

4. Periphery marketing is some term I made up, but it’s probably a common term in the marketing lexicon. Always remember that your future readers won’t be looking for your book on the internet, they’ll be looking for material that is in your book. It’s up to you to show them that material, then convince them that even more of it is in your book. 

Looking for more help? I’m working on a guide and a curriculum to Facebook & content marketing for early 2013.

If you’re interested, sign up for The Creative Brief, my free monthly newsletter, so you’ll know as soon as they’re ready!

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4 Responses to Learning Facebook Marketing from 50 Shades of Grey

  1. A really great article. I thought her life would have been really sordid and sick…turns out she’s really normal.

  2. JZ Bingham says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this article. Facebook is a great way for authors to promote their books; but only if they continue the imagination flow into their Facebook pages. Author’s are so great at creating fictional worlds; they shouldn’t forget that when they use Facebook. It’s basically just another canvas on which an author may extend the fictional world they’ve already created on paper…only with an added dimension that tests the limits of reality just a little further…Quite fun I think. I’m in the process of building my Facebook world for the cartoon characters of my children’s books. They’re real, in my world…and by the time I’m done (I mean, They’re done) with their Facebook page, you’ll think they’re real too… 🙂

    • blaiselucey1 says:

      Yeah, exactly! I think Facebook could be a really effective way of deepening any author’s world. Really, people should just think of it like an interactive notebook for all of the ideas about your book.

      I’m really interested in how your Facebook Page goes, JZ, please let me know — I’d love to feature you on the site when you get everything up and running.

      • JZ Bingham says:

        I like your description: “Interactive Notebook;” sums it up perfectly. And your example of how James extends the fictional world of 50 Shades characters on Facebook proves that an author can do this for any genre. Tongue-in-cheek is fun and effective for quite a variety of topics.

        I would love to let you know how the Facebook page goes for my new series. Thanks for the offer and Happy holidays to you.

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