THE BLOG
12/15/2011 05:24 pm ET Updated Feb 14, 2012

Why Authors and Social Media Are Meant for Each Other

"As authors, you have exactly what you need to make it really big in social media."

That's a quote from Amy Porterfield, social media expert and co-author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies. It's also encouraging news for us authors, given how many of us still feel angst about social media. Fortunately, Amy shared with me exactly how authors should be using social media to grow our platforms. It's such valuable information, I wanted to be sure to share it with you.

First and foremost, which social media outlet should you focus on, given that there book deadlines to meet, businesses to run, jobs to do, and let's not forget, lives to live? Facebook, Amy says, "is the platform for true engagement." While Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and others can play important roles, Amy explains, Facebook is the one that allows you to really connect with your fans.

So what can you do to make your Facebook page the hub of social media buzz you hoped it would become? The first issue, Amy says, is that "most people give up way too soon," before they have a real chance of attracting fans. "You create a Facebook page. You're so excited about it. You don't see a lot of activity, so you give up." The simple fact is, she says, "you've just got to do the work."

It's not a matter of spending hours and hours each day on Facebook, Amy adds -- it's a matter of staying committed to updating it consistently and frequently, and, most importantly, using your fan page wisely.

There's a formula Amy uses -- one, I should mention, I've adopted for my own pages -- that is almost guaranteed to produce results. It's Amy's 3 C's -- Capture, Connect, and Convert. Here's how it works:

Capture: To get people's attention, you need to create a unique offer for a free "goodie," which can be a content-rich video series, eBook, recorded Webinar, or other. Ideally, you offer this free "goodie" on a custom tab on your Facebook page, and you absolutely must have your fans opt in by providing their email address, in order to get the prize.

At this point, you've gotten people's attention, so your next challenge is to build a relationship with them, which is why the next phase is both the longest and, arguably, the most important.

Connect: This is where you allow people to get to know you. You earn their trust, and become the author they're dying to hear from. This, Amy says, is where authors really shine. This phase is all about offering great content -- the very thing you, as an author, do so well.

The key to creating compelling content, she adds, is the three E's. "Educate, Entertain, and Empower... every single one of your posts should do at least one of these," she explains. "That's how you move a fan to a super fan."

As you create your content, your goal is not to showcase your expertise, but to start a conversation with your fans. Asking questions of your fans, and paying attention to their answers, is critical. People love talking about themselves, so be sure to give fans the attention they inevitably desire. For example, if your fans are repeatedly asking certain questions, or wanting your input on certain issues, create new content around those topic(s). The more you cater to your fans and treat them like friends, the more they'll want to follow you -- and then recommend you to their friends, family, and so on.

Throughout this phase, you also need to get your fans in the habit of interacting with you. While your content at this point is all still free, be sure to consistently make little demands of your fans. Ask them to subscribe to your newsletter, click here to watch your new video, sign up for your free Webinar, and so on. Getting them in the habit of following your lead primes them for the next phase, when you turn fans into customers.

Convert: However daunting this phase may initially sound, if you've invested sufficient time and resources in the Connect phase, this third and final phase is mostly about providing your fans with social proof -- ideally, testimonials.

Because you earned your fans' trust during the Connect phase, they already know and like you. At this point, they just need one extra nudge to pull out their wallets and buy your book, products, services, and programs. Testimonials are the perfect way to accomplish that because they demonstrate how well your products have helped others. Ideally, Amy says, you want to "put your testimonials on your Facebook page... and then tell [your fans] where to buy" your book or other products.

While your Website is your first hub, Amy says, Facebook should be "your number two," because it's where conversations happen. By making yourself and your content available through your Facebook page, you're making it that much easier for fans to follow you--and if my success is any indication, using Amy's three C's -- follow you, they certainly will!

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. EverythingYouShouldKnow.com