January 19, 2015

8 Facebook Book Launch Party Tips

I like to be prepared, which is interesting because in the writing world, I'm more of a pantser than a planner. But when it comes to just about anything else, I prefer doing my research and knowing what I'm getting myself into, so that I can handle any contingencies.

While live parties seem fairly straightforward to me (venue + refreshments + with a book launch, a reading & signing = done!), a virtual party is an entirely different animal. People don't automatically mingle and chat, so the host needs to keep them engaged much more actively than at a live party. So, I sought out other authors' tips posts, asked fellow Swoon Romance authors for their suggestions, and spent quite a bit of time planning my Facebook parties.

Here are my tips: 
  1. Figure out a schedule for the entire duration of the party.
    • One of the best suggestions I saw was to write out an actual moment-by-moment outline, alternating types of activities. Besides giving you the opportunity to know what kinds of visual aids you'll need (see below), this helps everything run smoothly the day of, so you can focus on interacting with the people who attend rather than figuring out what to do next.
    • To start, split your party into 10-minute chunks (in many cases, I added additional moments to my plan at 5-minute intervals, like announcing a winner — posts guests would be unlikely to interact with much). Then figure out a basic frequency for each type of activity, like playing music at the 10- and 40-minute marks, running a contest every 40 minutes, offering your guests refreshments on the 30- and 00-minute marks, etc. You can always shift things back or forward as needed, but having a general idea before getting into details is helpful.
      • Your schedule should start at least 20 minutes before the set start time of the party, and you should plan to be wrapping up for at least 30 minutes after. If people are really getting into the swing of things, you don't want to run off!
    • Write out a script. (Sorry if this ruins the magic!) For every post, write out exactly what you want to say. This way, when the time comes, you can copy/paste (and adjust or fill in names as necessary). 
    • Figure out exactly which links and photos you'll need, and organize them in one place — even better if they're in order.
    • Remember that the schedule may need to be adjusted the day-of. I ended up posting some things a bit earlier than planned, other things a bit later. Having a schedule & script to pull from made this infinitely easier!
  2. Use visual / auditory aids with your posts.
    • Many social media gurus have studied the effect of adding a photo to your Facebook post. People simply interact with them more. The good news is, Facebook parties offer many easy options for visual aids:
      • Food and drinks you offer your guests
      • Prizes, when you announce either the contest or the winners
      • As part of your games, if applicable
      • Sharing a link to your reviews, many social media sites, and Youtube videos will automatically add a visual too
  3. Alternate activities, to keep people engaged and to give them some time to work on any contest entries. Some types of posts you can include are:
    • Food and drinks
      • I split these up, alternating offering drinks and food, except at the very start of the party, when I offered both.
    • Music your characters would like, or, if there's a type of music mentioned in the book, music of that genre (or both!).
    • Questions for discussion, simply encouraging conversations among your guests, and giving you the opportunity to mingle as well. Anything even mildly related to your book or characters counts.
    • Contests! These can be effort-based (like trivia), or random (like using random.org to choose among everyone who comments on a post), and you should offer both, since different people will prefer participating in different ways. 
      • Make sure the rules are clear for each contest and that you offer everyone enough (but not too much) time for each one.
      • Don't forget to schedule winner announcements in your script!
      • Types of contests I ran:
        • A random door prize, selected from all the right answers to a trivia question.
        • A word search, finding words using the letters in the book's title, with a bonus prize for the longest word found.
        • A caption contest, where participants offered book titles for this lovely book. For this contest, I let other guests' "likes" determine the winner.
        • A trivia contest with 5 questions, most correct answers winning (but since more than one person had all the correct answers, random.org chose the winner among them).
        • I also asked two more independent trivia questions throughout the event.
        • A grand prize pack, to thank everyone for coming! I chose winners from all the comments on that contest announcement post.
  4. About those prizes: 
    • You can give away copies of your book, of course, as well as any tie-in products you order (magnets, keychains, mugs, etc.).
    • You can also solicit (nicely) prizes from fellow authors, including giving away donated copies of their books or swag, even if they aren't official guests at your event.
    • Make sure to offer a variety of prizes, in case one person wins multiple contests. But of course, plan ahead which prize goes with which contest, so that you know exactly what you have left over if you need to substitute a prize.
    • Of course, make sure you order them in plenty of time for your party, with some lead-in time to take photos you can use during the event.
    • Keep track of winners, but contact them about the prizes after the party is over. You'll have plenty to do during the event! 
      • Announcing the winners and what they won actually helps! You can always look back through your event's posts after the fact.
    • Don't forget that physical prizes require shipping costs.
  5. Don't be afraid to share your own links, but work them into your schedule so you don't post them too often.
    • People are there to support you and your book, so you can and should share social media links or any great reviews from bloggers. Another great thing to share are links to your book tour posts and giveaways.
  6. Don't overwhelm yourself with your own plan!
    • Some people's parties run for 12 hours, some even do multi-day parties. Every tip I've seen from people who tried multi-day parties said their guests' interest fizzled out fairly quickly (within several hours). 12-hour parties seem to work best when you have an entire lineup of authors as guests, each responsible for an hour. However, if it's your party, you'd likely have to oversee that entire duration. 
    • I knew that 12 hours was far too long a party for me, so mine lasted 3 hours (plus lead-in and fade-out time). I scheduled it from 4pm-7pm Pacific time, or 7pm-10pm Eastern time, trying to get a time that should work for the most people across US time zones.  It ended up working for some people, not for others, but that's the name of the game.
  7. Invite everyone!
    • Just because the party is happening on Facebook, doesn't mean you can't spread the word on other social media sites! 
      • Post the info on Twitter, in advance and during the party itself. 
      • Create a Goodreads event inviting everyone to the event. (Goodreads even lets you automatically remind your guests!)
      • Ask your friends to help spread the word. And of course, make sure to invite them as well so you're sure to have some engaged guests! 
  8. Fake it 'til you make it.
    • If your party feels quiet, don't panic! You may need to move up your next activity, but otherwise just keep going as enthusiastically as if you had hundreds of eager guests. Try to respond to people's posts, encourage them to interact, and just be the perfect host who never lets on that there's a problem.  
      • Think of it this way, if you burn the entree at a dinner party, you aren't going to give up and kick your guests out — you'll figure out a plan B, and then a plan C if necessary, and you'll do it with a smile. (A schedule helps here too.)

So there you go, a bit more than eight tips for your future Facebook launch party. Have any questions? Would you have done something differently? Let me know in the comments!

2 comments :

  1. I have already saved this terrific post to my files because it lays out a Facebook launch event perfectly, Aria. I attended the party and thought it went smashingly well for this type of event. (Personally, I've thought offering food and drink to be silly, but I get it, to lighten the mood.) I've wondered how to keep guests involved and different contests are great. I thought playing music snippets was terrific and I had not seen it used in other parties I've attended. Thanks for laying out, what seems to be super-tough, the steps to a successful Facebook launch party! :0)

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    1. Offering food and drink seemed like a silly thing (that everyone nevertheless did!) to me too, but some people actually interacted more with those posts than the contests or questions. So it's all about having something for everyone, is my take.

      So glad you found this post useful! And I'm looking forward to the first time you host one of these!! ;-)

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