It would be a beautiful thing if we lived in a world where we writers didn’t have to market for ourselves and our writing always spoke for itself. But alas, we do not. Instead, we live in a big ol’ world filled with millions and millions of writers/creators all vying for the same attention on the same platforms. So it’s important that we make ourselves stand out by having social media profiles that are as up to date, interesting, and engaging as possible. As a notorious Twitter junkie, I figured I could help with this little predicament by providing some tips on how to keep people interested in your posts, whenever you post them.
Do Not Just Promote Yourself
This might sound a big counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the whole point of social media to market yourself?
Well, yes. But one thing you need to understand the moment you start your writer social media profile is that no one likes an ad. No one. Okay, we might make an exception for the Super Bowl because—let’s be real—most of us only watch it specifically for the ads. But in nearly every other situation, you get in someone’s face with something you want them to buy and only that, and you will lose them. Fast.
Unfortunately, the same often goes for blog posts, asking people to follow you on other social media accounts, and asking for subscribers. The fact is, you have to do more than post ads about your blog, your books, and your short stories to grab peoples’ attention because otherwise, what’s keeping you from looking like every other writer trying to get the time, attention, and money of their followers?
“But Brioche,” you might be asking, “How am I supposed to get people to check out my stuff if posting about it constantly doesn’t work?”
Great question, dear reader! That brings me to my next point.
I’ll be completely candid with you right now: we all like to talk about ourselves and what we’re passionate about. We also all like to feel like we’re being heard and that our voices and opinions matter. It’s why self promotion doesn’t always work–we’re all the protagonists in our own story and the last thing we want to devote our attention to is some random person’s attempts to market their new sci-fi novel. Most of us will just filter that out in our brains and scroll on by.
I learned that the hard way the first time I tried marketing for my site (then Satyr Central). I realized that not only was I not having fun just trying to promote myself, but that it didn’t even work enough to justify doing it constantly. So I went another route: I started asking fellow writers questions about what they’re working on. I would create polls giving followers input on upcoming posts or just goofy polls asking for their opinions on random things. And one of The Angry Noodle’s most popular types of posts ended up being our small collection of personality quizzes, which were shared far more widely than any of our other types of posts as people compared their results.
The other type of posts that tend to get a lot of traction are the ones that give relevant advice to our reader base. We have a lot of writers from the Twitter writing community check us out every now and then, especially for posts like this one that give them advice they (hopefully!) will find helpful. It’s part of why companies often have blog posts offering advice about succeeding in their respective industry–it draws in potential clients by providing them with something they might find helpful in their own professional journey.
Find a Balance Between Marketing and Engaging
One of the most important things about keeping your writer social media interesting is to have that healthy balance between marketing your work and engaging with your readers and fellow writers. Believe it or not, too much of either thing can hurt you. When I started out, I obsessed with marketing for myself, but no one was interested because, well, no one knew me. So why would they click on this random site by some random person on Twitter when I hadn’t even told them anything about me or given them a reason to support my work?
On the other hand, there came a point where I only engaged, which was great, but it got to the point where no one even knew that Satyr Central was my site. They would be very surprised when I would talk about it and they realized it was mine, or that I even had a blog at all. Now that I’ve found a brand that fits both my marketing half and my “engaging” half in the form of The Angry Noodle, I’m closer to having that balance that could make people engage with me and maybe even check out my work if I’m so lucky.
Don’t Be Afraid to Retweet, Repost, Repeat Yourself
I touched on this in my Twitter For Writers post, but I find it useful enough to mention again here: do not be afraid to repeat yourself. Whether that means retweeting your own post on Twitter, making multiple pins for the same post on Pinterest, writing several different posts on Facebook, or posting several different images on Instagram, do what you gotta do to get the word out.
Now, I’m not saying spam. Don’t go absolutely nuts and retweet yourself every five minutes. That’ll get on peoples’ nerves real quick and probably get you muted/unfollowed. Usually I like to wait an hour or so before retweeting something I post on Twitter–a half hour at the very least if I’m really looking for traction. This is particularly true for something like Twitter because the posts go by so fast that it’s very easy for people to miss any announcements or posts you write if you only post it one time. In my experience, Twitter posts have a lifespan of about 10 to 15 minutes before they’re lost in the void unless someone retweets or comments on them in that timespan. Retweeting them every now and then gives them new life.
In the case of platforms where posts have a longer lifespan like Pinterest or Facebook, you can spread out how often you post or repost something a lot more. When I had Facebook, I liked to write one post a day. On Instagram, I don’t post as much as I should, but I’d say it’s most ideal to post about once or twice a day and maybe sprinkle in a few things on your story as well.
And because Twitter is my main go-to for social media, here’s another piece of advice: remember to comment! Not only does that engage you with your audience, but it also refreshes the post without having to retweet yourself.
Never, Ever DM Someone You Don’t Know to Market to Them
Just don’t. I really don’t have much more to say than that. It’s annoying. No one likes it. I have never been DM’d by a random person I just started following and thought, “Oh wow, I’m so happy they either immediately decided to ask me, a stranger, to buy their book or have a soulless auto-DM set up to message everyone the moment they get followed! What smart marketing! I shall do as they ask and purchase their book!” No. Nope. Noooooope. It usually ends in a block and a mental note to never, ever buy anything of theirs.
It’s annoying, and it doesn’t work. Stop it.
Let Your Readers Have Some Input
Fun fact: I actually wrote this post because it was one of the options I gave my beloved Patrons, and it won the vote!
Now, if you know me, you know I love polls (and spreadsheets). They are a fantastic way to get people interested in what you’re up to because they got to have a say in how it turned out. If you’re a writer, you can poll your followers on so many things: what happens in the next chapter? Who is your favorite character? Who should I commission fan art for?
If you’re a streamer, you can poll your followers on things like which game to play next, which game streamed in the past you should stream again, which Twitch emotes to create, and which days to stream.
If you’re an artist, you can poll your followers on things like which art piece to create next, which drawing/painting should be turned into merch, and which past art piece is their favorite one.
All of these ask your followers different questions that either let you gauge what they think of your work and what you should focus on doing the most as well as what you should most consider working on in the future. And it will definitely keep them interested in what you’re doing because, well, they’re the ones who got to choose what you would do and see it come to fruition!
Know How to Balance Your Social Media Accounts
It’s safe to say that most people have their “favorite” social media site that they use to market their work. For me, that site is Twitter, but of course it varies for everyone and depends on the kind of posts you most feel comfortable making. Someone interested in photography, for example, probably leans towards Instagram. Someone who likes writing short text posts, like myself (and probably you if you’re a writer), might lean towards something like Twitter or Facebook.
Embrace the one that you feel works best for you and that you get the most engagement on, but don’t forget to occasionally mix things up. Got the first hard copy of your book in the mail? Post a photo on Instagram with a ton of relevant writing hashtags, even if Instagram usually isn’t really your thing. Got a new blog post? Try to post it everywhere it could be relevant. I like to take screenshots of the cover photo and title of my post to put on Instagram and put the link in my bio. Then I post the link and a GIF or image to Twitter. Then I use the same screenshot I used on Instagram to make a pin on Pinterest. And though I don’t have a Facebook account anymore, if you do still have one, make sure to post any relevant links, posts, and announcements there too.
Don’t Just Follow People Blindly
If you’re a rampant Twitter user like I am, you know exactly what I’m talking about: writers lifts. I used to be obsessed with them. It was how I got my first few thousand followers. But the vast majority of the people who were following me did so because I gave them a follow back, and vice versa. It’s a silent agreement that usually doesn’t result in any engagement, just pure numbers. And while it can be a good way to lead you to readers who will actually engage with your work, it’s not something you want to do in the long run. Doing so puts you at risk of becoming one of those writer accounts with tens of thousands of followers, but no actual engagement or interest in posts. I see many large accounts that do a ton of writer lifts, but I don’t actually know anything about them or what they write. Their accounts only interest other writers who want more followers, not actual readers who will buy their books or read their blog posts.
I’m not sure if the same is true for the other platforms, though I do see a lot of “follow for unfollow” kind of people on both Instagram and Twitter. That for me just reinforces the fact that following people just because they followed you isn’t always a great idea. After all, chances are you won’t even keep them. And now your feed is clogged with posts written by people you’re not actually interested in because you blindly followed hundreds or even thousands of people just to up your numbers as well.
Take it from me: not worth it. Don’t do it.
Develop Your Own Style!
I am genuinely not sure how I became The Angry Noodle on Twitter, but I did and I love it. I ended up revamping my entire site, changing it from Satyr Central and refreshing every single link, image, and social media profile to brand myself accordingly. And you know what? I don’t regret it one bit. I love being tagged in posts about brioche or noodles, or seeing people joke about my “Angry Noodle” moments on Twitter. It’s the style that ended up working for me, and I promise you that you have a style that works for you too.
I’ll use a good friend and Patron as an example: Reyadh Rahaman is one of the Dark Lords on Twitter, and if you follow him, you definitely know it. He frequently does delightfully baffling polls about magic and writing and occasionally makes eldritch-style personality quizzes like which demon you should summon. That, my friends, is his style. And because he writes horror stories often inspired by Lovecraft, that style works really well for him and generates interest in his blog and books.
Desastr, another great friend and Patron, posts her progress on her art, which often involves characters from her books or her World of Warcraft toons. Anytime anything to do with vampires or World of Warcraft comes up, I immediately think of her. Whenever I think of human rights and speculative fiction as social commentary, I think of J. Austin Yoshino and his wonderful Fresh Pulp Magazine, a science and sci-fi magazine focused on BIPOC, because of how unique a focus it is. Yes, I am relentlessly shilling for all of these people. No, I was not asked to. They make great examples and it’s also a good excuse to shill for them though, ha!
So figure out what people know you for and run with it. Maybe you’re known for your angry political posts. Maybe you’re known for your obsession with aliens because all of your books and sci-fi short stories center around extraterrestrials. Maybe you’re known for being supportive as hell of everyone in the writing community or setting up cool writer events like Jon Aaron Sandler. Whatever it may be, you are a unique human being who has something to offer. Use it!
#socialmedia #writing #publishing #blogging #Twitter #Facebook #Instagram #Pinterest
Bryanna Gary is the founder of The Angry Noodle and a current editorial assistant at Del Rey Books–science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint of Penguin Random House.