Facebook Archives - In 30 Minutes Guides

How to set up a neighborhood Facebook group to cope with Coronavirus

By Tips

There is no IN 30 MINUTES guide about Facebook and I never write about the social network, but today I’ll be making an exception. That’s because Facebook has a chance to shine in the current Coronavirus health crisis, as a place for neighbors to come together in hyperlocal Facebook groups. This post will show how to set one up.

Because Facebook is so widely used (around 70% of U.S. adults have accounts, and three in four use the site daily), small Facebook groups for individual streets or small neighborhoods can serve as a virtual gathering spots while people are quarantined or practicing social distancing. Through these groups, residents can marshal support and resources for vulnerable/at risk neighbors including seniors and people with underlying health issues.

This is what our neighborhood Facebook group is doing. The group includes members of about 60 households. Via a post to the group, a subset of people have volunteered to help with picking up groceries or medicines, helping with technology questions, or just checking in.

Does this sound like something your neighborhood would be interested in? Read on to see how to quickly set up a local Facebook group in a web browser.

  1. Open facebook.com and select GROUPS on the left side of the page, under “Explore.”
Facebook groups

2. In the top left corner of the page, select CREATE GROUP.

Facebook create group

3. Name the group, and set privacy & visibility settings. You can also add some people from your network.

Facebook group privacy settings

I advise keeping it really local – a street or small neighborhood as opposed to a large neighborhood or district. If it’s too large or too widely dispersed, people may be unwilling to join (“I don’t know any of these people!”) or members will be too far away to ask for or provide help.

I also advise being strict about privacy and visibility, to avoid the group being overrun by spammers. If you know everyone on your street and they are Facebook members, you can invite them to the group in the next step so you don’t have to wait for them to discover the Facebook group on their own.

4. Invite more people by selecting MORE > INVITE MEMBERS or using the INVITE MEMBERS widget on the right side of the page.

Facebook Groups invite members

In addition to current residents, you may also want to invite adult children who have moved away. They will have a better idea of the needs of parents who still live in the old neighborhood, who may not even be on Facebook.

5. Select MORE > MODERATE GROUP to review member requests, create rules, and more. Consider adding another administrator to help you keep the group on track.

6. Other settings such as description, location, etc., can be accessed through MORE > EDIT GROUP SETTINGS.

More information about groups can be found here.

Marketing self-published books: There is no magic bullet

By Blog, Industry

A Lifehacker reader commenting on my recent How to Self-Publish a Book article had an interesting question: How do you advertise self-published books?

I believe his/her question actually had more to do with the entire spectrum of marketing, rather than just advertising. It’s a valid question, considering it will be nearly impossible to attract readers to a self-published work without a marketing plan in place.

Facebook ads books

However, there is no magic bullet for marketing self-published books. I have experimented with low-cost advertising, such as Facebook ads and Google AdWords. The results have been poor. Relatively few people click on the ads, and still fewer actually end up making a purchase. As for traditional advertising, I would never throw away money on expensive broadcast or print advertising — it’s simply not worth it, considering my sales channels are restricted to Amazon and other online stores, and the results are so hard to quantify.

There are other marketing activities that do not involve paid advertising, including social media, community websites (such as Goodreads), blogging, and media/press appearances. None will instantly transform a new title into a breakaway hit, but they can help build awareness of the value offered by your book, which can lead to additional sales or other positive results, such as user reviews and recommendations.

My own marketing efforts center around the following activities:

  1. Ensuring that the online product pages for IN 30 MINUTES titles have attractive, compelling copy that lets people know what information the titles contain.
  2. Creating websites that not only make it easy for potential readers to buy the titles, but also provides helpful “how-to” information for free that demonstrates the expertise of the authors. This can lead to additional sales.
  3. Encouraging existing readers to buy other IN 30 MINUTES titles, and leave honest reviews online.

I don’t waste a lot of time on activities that fail to generate results. For instance, I could spend many hours per week searching out and participating in media opportunities — interviews, guest blog posts, podcasts, “expert” quotes, etc. However, I’ve found the success rate is low and not all media appearances, interviews, and mentions lead to sales.

A corollary: I don’t do things that risk alienating readers. For instance, I see way too many new authors stuffing their twitter feeds with non-stop plugs. This is low-value content that is not authentic, has the potential to scare away new followers as well as existing followers/readers, and at the end of the day doesn’t deliver much in the way of sales. While social media can certainly help a marketing effort for a new book, there has to be more than links to Amazon product pages.

What do you think about marketing for self-published books? What works, and what doesn’t? Leave your comments below.