As many of you are aware, Facebook is currently under fire for their haphazard approach to privacy. While I don’t disagree with that (as of this writing, Facebook privacy is a cluster), I still believe strongly that social networking is important for artists to market, promote, and communicate with their audience. For this article, I will attempt to explain a common sense approach to social networking for both business and pleasure, while still maintaining your own privacy, and the privacy of your users.
1. Start a Facebook Fan Page
OK, so now “Fan Pages” are just called “Pages”, and yeah people don’t have to become your “Fan” anymore, they just have to “Like” your page, but you know what I mean. If you have a business, be it selling your art, commissions, or promoting your comic or webcomic, YOU NEED A FAN PAGE! Keep your personal Facebook account ONLY for close friends and family. Your Fan Page is for your clients and fans that buy your stuff. I love my customers, clients and fans, but I do not want them to see photos of my children, or photos of me from high school that old “friends” decide to post and tag. That’s just not safe, or smart. Even when I break the no kid pics rule, I do so fully aware of the risk I am taking. Be smart.
2. Use Facebook Connect
Facebook Connect allows your website users to log into your site with their own personal Facebook account. They can post comments on your blog, and use their Facebook avatar, and have the option to post their activity on your site to their Facebook stream, in essence helping to promote your website to their friends, potentially increasing your website traffic. If the user just isn’t cool with signing into your site with their Facebook creds, then they simply don’t. They would have to click the connect button on your page to make the connection, so you are not infringing on their privacy, you are simply offering a convenience to make their experience on your site more interactive and familiar. If they choose not to use the Facebook Connect feature, they can still post comments and be part of the conversation, and maintain their complete anonymity. It’s a win win for everyone.
3. Incorporate Twitter
Guys, Twitter is here to stay. Sign up, use it, embrace it. Especially with all the problems and controversy over Facebook privacy lately. Twitter is the next best alternative, and it’s a great way to reach out to your audience. In my experience, I’ve also found that Twitter users are actually MUCH more social than Facebook users anyway. Let your users interact with you on Twitter, incorporate it into your blog, and tweet yourself silly!
4. Add a LIKE button
I think “Like” is sorta dumb, but what are ya gonna do? Facebook owns the web, and they want us all to “Like” everything. Don’t miss out on this minimal modification. Just add the Like button and let your users click it if they choose to. It will feed to their Facebook stream with a link back to your website. It’s a good thing.
Here are some links to the social media plugins I use on my website, CDowd.com. There are hundreds out there, so try using Google to find some others. Keep in mind that I run a self hosted copy of WordPress, so these may not work for you if you run something else.
WP-FBconnect Integrate Facebook and WordPress with Facebook Connect. Provides single-signon, avatars, and newsfeed comment publication.
TwitMe This plugin allows you to automatically post your new posts on the twitter website.
Twitterlink Comments Plugin to show a link to follow the comment author on twitter if they have entered in their username at least once in the comment form
Add a LIKE button Requires minor template hacking
Wickett Twitter Widget Adds a Twitter feed to your sidebar
Post your favorite tips & tricks in the comments below.