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Authors and Social Networking: Part 2 (Facebook Identity)

In Part 1 of this blog series, I discussed the use of Twitter for promoting books and establishing a social network presence. In this Part 2, I will provide some of my insights from the past few months of using Facebook to continue building my social presence on the web.

Facebook was created originally by Mark Zuckerberg to provide a portal for friends to connect and keep up regular contact with each other. As of early 2014, Facebook boasted 1.28 Billion users. Facebook has very specific terms of use that include:

* Facebook users must provide their real names and information

* Each person can only create one personal account

* You will not use your timeline primarily for your own personal gain

As most of you know, there are many reasons why an author might prefer to use a nom de plume, or 'pen name', which may include: 1) avoid confusion, when the name is similar or identical to a famous person (especially another author); 2) make it easy for readers to recognize and remember; 3) avoid problems in personal life that would be created by disclosing your erotic works (for example); 4) enhance marketing and promotion; and 5) enable writing as the opposite gender. There is undoubtedly additional rationale for using a pen name.

Despite Facebook requiring 'real names', there are many examples of people using pen names as their Facebook personal profile (we'll discuss Facebook "Pages" in a moment). For example, E.L. James has a personal profile on Facebook, although everyone knows that's a pen name.

To be fair, I should clarify: Facebook DOES allow pen names as part of the personal profile ... but the real name must also be included. For example, "Tittie Love Author (Jen Smart)". However, this approach has the drawback that #3, above - creating problems in your personal life - will still be an issue. Another example of creating an issue is when a children's book author also decides to create erotica (or erotic romances); this could significantly impact the perception of her customers.

It is not only celebrities who use pen names on Facebook; a simple 5-minute search will yield hundreds of 'fake' names for Facebook personal profiles. I will not cite examples, but I don't have to: I'm sure that many of you use a pen name, and some of you probably have a Facebook account under that name. This violates Facebook's rules. And, if you also have a Facebook account under your real name, you've violated another rule (having more than one account).

Of course, I didn't know any of this stuff just a few months ago. My publisher suggested that I have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, so I joined them, using my pen name. This was the source of a huge issue, that I describe in Part 4 of this blog series.

What I have learned, is that the 'proper' way to create a presence on Facebook, for purposes of marketing (yourself, and/or your book), is to use a Facebook "Page". When I finally started researching this, it was very confusing: I saw information on a "Business Page", and a "Fan Page" (although I now know there is only one type of Facebook "Page").

It wasn't clear to me how i could create a page, and not have it link back to my personal profile. I now know that Pages can be managed by anyone (or more than one person), and that they will maintain the privacy of those managers, UNLESS they "Like" the page ... in which case, it will show-up on their Facebook timeline. (I didn't even know what a 'timeline' was, 3 months ago!)

If I was going to use social media for promoting my books, I would need to learn about linking Facebook and Twitter, joining Facebook groups (which I'll discuss in Part 3 of this blog series), how to post from a mobile device and using e-mail, and many more technical things ... not to mention learning the proper Facebook 'etiquitte' - such as how often to post. I am still in the process of learning some of these things, and gaining experience wih social media.

I gathered Friends on Facebook, as I had obtained Followers on Twitter and ended-up with more than 1800 Facebook friends. I had joined more than two dozen groups, on which I was posting regularly. And I made sure that my personal profile had consistent artwork, style, and information as my website, author bio, and books. At one point, I was 'communicating' with up to 400,000 people (!).

Then, disaster! Facebook required me to "confirm my identity" before I could access my account. Unfortunately, it is not easy to confirm a pen name. This resulted in my absence from Facebook for more than two weeks, and an incredible fiasco in trying to obtain information and help from Facebook. This is the story I'll present in Part 4 of this blog series.

However, before I do that, I'll let my blood pressure go down, and present some of the things I learned about Facebook "Groups", in the next part of this blog series. Stay tuned!

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