Social Sheila Video: how to let people follow you on Facebook without becoming friends

Curious about the new "following" function on Facebook? This new and handy feature means you can let people listen to your public status updates on Facebook, even if they're not friends with you.

I like the idea of "following", because it allows authors to enhance their social media platform, and hopefully their overall public profile.

Writers like Candy Gourlay and Jane Friedman have implemented the function: go check out them out and click "follow" to see how they use this feature. If you're already convinced, jump down to the Facebook Following how-to video below, where I'll show you how to get started.

"I like the idea of "following", because it allows authors to enhance their social media platform,"  

Why not just set up a Facebook Page instead?

Good question! By "Page," I mean a Facebook brand presence, sometimes known as a "Fan" Page. Facebook explains the difference between a Facebook "Page" and Facebook "following" better than I can: ( Pages have value, and your agent/publisher will probably insist you have one (and, helpfully, publishers can manage the Page alongside you or on your behalf). But in my experience, here are the three areas where Facebook Pages fall down:

1. A Facebook "Page" is not a proper, personal Facebook identity with all the rights and privileges thereof 
That means, although you can click around Facebook "acting as Page", it's actually difficult to properly interact with, comment on, or tag people in your posts. And if you are trying to use the Facebook mobile app, forget it – it's almost impossible to interact properly with fans of your Page through the app. Professionally speaking, you are on Facebook to draw attention to your children's books, but it's difficult to do that acting purely as a Page.

2. Status updates you post as a Page may be hidden from your fans
To keep its users from being overwhelmed with irrelevant posts, Facebook filters out the majority of a Page's status updates from the news feed of your Page's fans. You heard that right: people who "like' your author Page may not see status updates from your Page in their newsfeed, unless Facebook's algorithm calculates that your Page updates are very interesting, relevant and popular. This is the Facebook Edgerank algorithm, and it's the bane of your existence if you've already spent time building up a Facebook Page.

3. It's all too easy to neglect a Facebook Page
You may not feel a visceral, personal connection to your Facebook Page, so you may forget to update it for a while. This neglect will get you on the wrong side of Edgerank, making it decreasingly likely that fans of your Page will see any of your status updates.

Are there any downsides to 'Following'?

Yes: "follow" connects you with people who aren't really your friends. That means you've got to go and hide anything you've already posted that you don't wish to share publicly on Facebook, and the video below shows you how to do that. Going forward, you'll also need to start clicking the globe icon every time you post a Facebook status update, to control whether that update gets seen by the public, or just by friends and family.

Mail me if you have ideas for a video you'd like to see here:

Sheila Averbuch lives in East Lothian in Scotland and is currently working on SPACE KIDS AND THE SPY FROM PLANET 12, a sci-fi adventure for 9-11's. She holds an MA in journalism from Stanford University and a BA from Harvard University in American History & Literature. Sheila is managing director of the content services and social media training agency ENNclick and blogs at



  1. Thanks for the update on the workings of FB. The problem with FB its rules are too fluid to keep to one social strategy. Now it's trying to get us to pay for every post! Another good reason to stick to the profile. I have a book of soon and I'm thinking a Facebook page is not a good idea.

  2. Thanks Candy for your comments...I have read insights online that say "if you are an author and you have not already created a Facebook page, forget it"; I'm not sure if I would go that far, but Pages are looking less and less attractive. You are right, the goalposts keep moving! (and thank you for the idea about "Social Sheila" – that was yours.) I would be interested to know if, as an author who has activated Following, you're finding it difficult to still use Facebook in a personal capacity, or has there been no problem with that?

  3. Thanks for the mention, Sheila!

    If there's one argument in favor of Pages (and I say this as someone who manages one for a publication), it's the behind-the-scenes metrics (data on who likes you) and the ability to incorporate additional functionality into your page.

    But, as is clear, I don't find these features compelling enough to personally manage two Facebook identities.

    1. Yes the metrics are great. But so much effort for such an opaque tool with unpredictable changes. I wonder if Facebook is getting too smug about its reach.

    2. Thanks Jane & good point about the analytics; I too manage Pages (four of them) and the insights are helpful; I can imagine they would be even moreso if the likes on those pages were very numerous.

  4. I'm pretty exasperated with the way Facebook keeps moving the goalposts. Only a select few people see my updates, the last time I went back to Japan I chose to use FB to notify all my business contacts and friends I'd be in town - the vast majority never even saw the post and were completely surprised when I arrived. I've a fan page on FB which few follow despite my efforts to develop it, but a personal page creaking with the weight of people who don't know me from Adam, who ignore my fan page, but still wanted to 'friend' me. I wish there was a way I could slim down my personal page to, well "personal" people, and transfer the rest to the fan page, but I fear it's too late for that. And don't get me start whinging about Google+, that's another story.....

    1. Thanks John - my big frustration is that my Page ( wouldn't let me interact / leave comments on other people's Pages. So frustrating! I like the half-way house of "following" because it lets strangers in a *little* way, without being too creepy. Your illustrations on are following you now.

  5. I have 3 facebook identities by the looks of it. I have an account with my workname for school and work friends. Then I have a writer facebook account where all my friends are in publishing, bookselling etc. Then I created an author page from which I post at least one thing every day and about 85 people have liked the page and I try and get more people to like it.

    The personal work/home facebook - I don't mind if I don't update it often. But I am friends with myself - so the work/home persona is friends with writer persona but I have made sure that the posts from my personal account does not feature in my writer account. However the writer account sends all its posts to the personal - ie. my work and home friends know all my updates as a writer - so I get twice the coverage.

    However, I should say I'm afraid of giving up the author page or the author account and have one identity - because I might be careful of what I post on facebook but my friends might not be. As a children's writer, I worry about weird photos, drunken posts infiltrating into my writer account.

    But I should say having the writer account has helped me in gaining a lot of followers, blog visitors, publishers getting to know me etc.

    The question now is - should I give up the page and use the follow feature more effectively.

  6. I would love to hear an agent's views on this. From my perspective (unagented, unpublished) it seems both the agent and the publisher are keen to have an author page that they can potentially co-administer and actively market. I don't see the benefit in giving up the author "page" if you have already started one but feel more and more strongly that "follow" has value.

  7. The policy should also instruct employees to adopt the highest privacy settings to prevent an employee's contacts from seeing who else the employee is connected with, in order to avoid potential confidentiality issues. Employees should also be trained in how the policy operates. social media consultant


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