Thanks to Latayne Scott for bringing us solid advice on how to conduct a Facebook fan party!
I had a fun Facebook Party on Oct. 8.
What’s a Facebook Party? I invited people, via various social networks, to "friend" me (if they hadn’t already) on Facebook. Then, these new "friends" could interact with me on my Facebook Wall during a specified one-hour period by answering quiz questions and surveys to win prizes.
Pros: This is an inexpensive way to get your books some attention and — this must be a real motivation given the amount of work required — allow you to serve your readers, both loyal old ones and new ones as well. My two publishers (Zondervan and Moody) donated 10 books each, a fellow author Patti Hill donated some of her books for giveaways, and I had a grand prize — a Sony e-Reader, that was given to me by Zondervan. Rose Publishing Company also donated free downloads of some of their charts, and I offered these and one of my own e-books as a prize to everyone who attended the party. There were 40 prizes total. In addition, everyone won something.
Cons: This is very time-consuming (see below). Additionally, even if the books are donated, you must pay the postage to mail the books and other prizes to the winners. In my case, some I was able to deliver locally and in other cases, winners qualified for multiple prizes so I could mail several items in one box/envelope.
I promoted the Facebook party different ways:
- I sent out a newsletter to my email list.
- I posted announcements on Shoutlife, Sistahfaith, Twitter, Facebook, and through the Facebook fan groups for my two books, The Mormon Mirage and Latter-day Cipher.
- I let people know that party attendees who had tweeted about the party using the hashtag #latayne increased their chances of winning a prize.
- I asked friends and loop-group friends to publicize it.
- About a month before the party I did a search of Facebook groups that are interested in the subject matter of my books (Mormonism). I sent friend requests individually to everyone in each group, directing them to my site and telling them about the free resources on the site. I’d say that at least 90 percent of the friend requests I sent were accepted, and many people asked good questions about my ministry. Because they were then my friends they knew of the party through my Facebook stream.
Preparation of the quizzes, surveys, and other items
- I took very much to heart the warnings from my agent (Janet Grant) that such parties must be totally without obligation to buy anything. Therefore, any prizes I offered could not require a purchase from me; nor could any of the quiz questions I asked require the participant to have read or bought any of my books.
- My subject matter (Mormonism) is so broad that I chose a really cool aspect of it that one of my books highlighted: the 19th century "cipher" alphabet of Brigham Young called the Deseret Alphabet. I discovered to my delight that there are entire sites written in this code, that one man in Nevada has declared himself a one-acre "nation" and the DA is his way of communicating, and lots of other interesting online resources about the DA. My quizzes (you can see them in this PDF) all related to these online resources that have no direct connection with my books.
- I checked out several online sites that provide surveys (Quiblo.com, surveymonkey, viznu, and others). Though they provide spiffy-looking surveys, the one I chose also put in their own question at the end that had to do with a product the site was promoting. In the future, I don’t think I’ll use such sites.
- I made a master list of all the questions/quizzes/surveys (along with the correct answers for the quizzes for my own information) ready to cut and paste, one question/quiz at a time, before the party began.
The Party Itself
- You simply must have at least one other person on a computer in the room with you. This isn’t a one-person project. In my case, Facebook was acting weird and would not let me post my questions. Because I had a techie son-in-law right there, he quickly showed me how to post directly to Facebook using Tweet Deck.
- I began loading the questions, one at a time, onto the site.
- My son-in-law and daughter were also looking at my wall and helped flag questions and comments I needed to answer.
- As people began to answer questions, I responded to them and told them they had won a contest.
- Some of my deciphering questions were too hard, but most of them were answered with just a bit of research on the sites whose urls I provided.
- The grand prize winner was chosen completely randomly after the party ended when I entered all the party participant names (some, by answering questions, got their names entered multiple times) into random.com.
What I would do differently next time
- I would post the rules on my own site and ask party participants to go to that site and read the rules. By posting all the rules in my newsletter and on Facebook to begin the party, it was TMI (too much information.) They didn’t need to know the dates I would ship the prizes, for instance. But I was gripped by fear that someone would think it wasn’t fair or equitable.
- I would also make the invite simpler. Just a listing of the prizes, the date of the party, and a link to a page with more complete information.
- I would try to build more interest in the party by asking people to suggest questions/quizzes.
- I would find more simple questions and not so many deciphering questions.
- I made some prize winners really happy.
- People I didn’t previously know well got involved and had fun.
- My books and those of Patti Hill will be in the hands of people who might not have read them otherwise. In addition, I enclosed in all the prize winners’ packages some bookmarks of my books, and those of my fellow authors at NovelMatters.
- Some of the party guests made new friends with each other and began corresponding and ministering to each other. I am very pleased with that.
- My two books showed a dramatic improvement in Amazon sales rankings beginning a few days before the party and continuing for some time afterwards.
- Both my publishers know that I am willing to be proactive and creative in marketing. Perhaps they will remember that the next time my agent pitches one of my books to them.
About the author
Latayne C Scott is the author of hundreds of magazine articles and poems, and over a dozen books published by Zondervan, Baker, Moody, Word, Waterbrook Press and others. One of her most recent books is Latter-day Cipher: A Novel (Moody Publishers, 2009), of which bestselling author Michael Arnzen said, "This is the kind of book that Anne Rice ought to be writing, post-conversion." Also newly-released is The Mormon Mirage: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today (Zondervan, 2009), which is also available as an audiobook and soon to be released as an e-book. She blogs with five other "upmarket" Christian novelists at Novelmatters.blogspot.com and on her own site, Latayne.com. Her agent is Janet Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency.0