UPDATED 21 Oct 2017: It seems Facebook has removed the authorship tag from social shares as reported by Social Media Today.
A special shout out to Mike Allton who does a phenomenal job of explaining Facebook Authorship and how to set it up. I had a chance to chat with him about it and his help and insight were invaluable. I highly recommend you read his article Facebook Adds Authorship. Bloggers Take Note!
Authorship was designed for journalists as a way to further connect with readers who engage with their content. This provides the author a larger audience and an incentive to further share content to Facebook. With 44% of users getting their news via social media (according to a 2014 study by American Press Institute) Facebook is clearly looking to capitalize and keep readers in-house.
But I’m A Small Business Owner, Not A Journalist
The beauty of Facebook Authorship is that it can’t discriminate. Anyone can take advantage of it and small business owners and freelance bloggers SHOULD! Authorship provides a valuable tool in the form or personal branding and great tool for driving exposure for your business profiles (on any social platform).
Personal branding often gets overlooked. We focus so much on building our business’s branding we forget about ourselves. That can be a major issue if you sell your business, change careers, jobs or in the case of Realtors and other professionals, if you change brokers, brands or distributors. If your following is tied to the brand or business, when it goes, so does the audience. (Back in July I closed a business, changed industries and moved halfway across the country. It was a conscious personal branding effort over the years that enabled me to smoothly make the transition and build a following for Tactical Social Media. I didn’t have to start from scratch.)
Never selling your business or changing your brand? Social media is a valuable networking tool. When you meet someone, how do you introduce yourself? I’m guessing you introduce yourself as, well, YOU and not your brand or business. It can often be easier to build a personal following than one for a brand. As with journalists, it allows you to connect on a deeper level with customers and clients. Once in place, you’ll have opportunities to leverage that following for your business. In this case, the “Other People’s Audience” you’re leveraging is actually your own personal audience!
Leveraging Facebook Authorship and Other People’s Audiences
Driving traffic To Brand Pages
While you can directly share content from our blog or website and you can always post new content on your personal profile, it won’t drive eyes to your brand page. The best advice still remains to post new content to your brand page, then share publicly from that page to your profile. Those shares will pull attribution in the form of the ‘via tag’ (just make sure you aren’t using the ‘Share Now (public)’ option)….
This attribution will not only provide exposure for, but also a link to, your brand page for those following you personally. You’ll also have posted content on the page itself for fans.
The added benefit to Facebook Authorship is the ability to leverage your personal following, grown within Facebook, to build your brand, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn or other social channels by sharing content from those pages.
Want to drive exposure for multiple pages at the same time? Consider sharing content from your profile on another social channel to your Facebook page. Then share it to your personal profile. The initial content will provide the link to your of social channels while shares within Facebook will promote your brand page.
If you do choose to open up your personal profile, one simple recommendation – look at some of the content you have already shared. For anything you’d deem safe for public consumption, change the visibility of that particular content. Why? When someone does choose to follow you, there will already be some content in place. There’s nothing worse than showing up somewhere and finding it a ghost town.
A Word of Caution
A greater risk of being unfriended and negative feedback: If the goal is to leverage your new following to grow your business, it could backfire. Leveraging authorship means posting more business content and doing so publicly which limits control over targeting content.
Most of my friends are actually business colleagues, acquaintances and in some cases, people I don’t know but accepted as a friend. This might seem odd but Facebook has always been more a business tool for me than personal (I’ve been using Facebook for my businesses since 2006 and started using it solely for business). Facebook, through lists, also provides great control over who can see what I post. I have lists for specific locations, business professionals, targeted interests and personal friends (I do actually have a few!).
The point to the lists – I have long taken advantage of my personal profile and brand to drive visibility to my business content. What I’m careful to do, is limit what and how much I post and who sees it. The idea is to not inundate the friends I do have with business content they likely don’t want or care to see. With most people on Facebook to keep up with friends and family, posting too much business content can get you unfriended. Worse, they could click on the content shared and choose to hide all content from your page. That negative feedback has an impact on post visibility and organic reach. When I share business content, I control the audience for that post using the lists I have created. When I choose to post publicly (content my followers can also see and engage with), it’s done very tactically in terms of the content, timing, and frequency so I don’t offend anyone and risk the negative feedback.
Facebook’s own rules: Another concern with Facebook Authorship – “It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (ex: your business). If you’re using your account to represent something other than yourself, you could permanently lose access to your account….”. Journalists might be able to rest easy since their providing news and information, not selling or promoting but business owners and bloggers could create a headache for themselves For businesses, Facebook could take action if you’re posting too much business content or being overly promotional on your personal profile.
The huge value in Facebook Authorship is still personal branding and using it as a relationship building tool. If you’re solely using it in this regard, posting predominantly social or personal content, adding in the occasional commercial post won’t send up red flags.
So Now What If Don’t Want To Use My Personal Profile?
The Public Figure Option: While mine was set up as a business tool and still used for networking, over the years I have added more friends and made my profile more personal. To allow for personal branding, I set up a public figure page under Robert C Nissenbaum years ago. Since it is a business page, I can easily cross share business content for Tactical Social Media and more personal content. It’s actually the URL I have used under my user name for this blog. It does provide the same authorship link as a personal profile within the shared post.
The one piece lost – the follow button. As Mike pointed out in a conversation it makes sense since you cannot follow pages. You can still mouse over the link and “Like” the page. You’ll get the added benefit of being of having your Call To Action button clickable as well as the Save feature. According to Facebook, you should see the larger ‘Like’ button triggered when you return to Facebook after following the link.
Of course, if you don’t already have a public figure page in place you’ll have the daunting task of building and maintaining more than one page at a time. If you already have a Public Figure page or can handle the second page, this is my recommendation for how best to leverage Facebook Authorship.
The Business Page Option: You can always opt to use the actual URL for your business page for the authorship attribute if you don’t have a public figure page. The only downsides here – it does look funny having the author show as a business, you eliminate the personal branding option.
The External Link Option:
Thinking outside the box, there is the possibility that one can use any link in the Facebook URL field. This would allow you to add the link to your LinkedIn profile (very tactical idea), your Google+ profile or any other site. For the purpose of this post I’ve updated my Facebook URL to my LinkedIn profile for testing.
UPDATE – After publishing this post and sharing it to Facebook using LinkedIn URL, no authorship link was included. Changing back to my public figure page URL and updating the post did not reinstate the link. Hence, until further testing – it would appear that Facebook Authorship attribution won’t allow using a link outside Facebook.