May 18, 2015

I posted previously general thoughts of which social media outlets I really engage with and why. And then the first round of an author’s point of view on the whole thing (or at least this author’s point of view). But that draft was far too long and so we have the undiscussed, the leftovers, the remnants of using social media to build an author brand.

As a quick recap, we’re looking at the benefits each venue provides (other than having fun). The prime benefit is obviously book sales and new readers.
Another benefit would be notoriety (how many people are looking at you and listening when you talk). And finally there’s the currency value – is it something that provides influence or leverage with agents or publishers?

Each social media outlet has its strengths in building a brand, in leveraging your platform in the publishing industry and ultimately in engaging with and building your audience. The question is, how well am I leveraging each outlet 🙂

Let’s pretend I rock pinterest. My boards are filled with pretty pictures for writing inspiration and spectacular bookcases, great book links, helpful crafty type guides. And I have 5k followers. Not that I’m that good at pinterest, but if I were, how effective is that?

The thing with pinterest is it doesn’t really offer a direct connection to someone the way twitter does or even goodreads. This goes back to my earlier post about conversation and pinterest isn’t really a venue for conversation. So, you’re not going to get a high level of engagement with your readers.

You might get some notoriety, though, but there’s also a question of content with pinterest. It’s a good place to organize visual inspiration. But if you’re not the photographer, there’s not a lot of self-generated content. You could also be the digital artist, and then generate a certain degree of content but it’s still probably not the majority of your boards. So, even with 5k followers, people aren’t really looking at you – at your work and your creativity. They’re looking at your ability to find and organize recipes and fun outfits and awesome photography.

But maybe looking is enough. Maybe if enough people are looking at you they also see the pins from blog posts or the self-generated content you do offer. And then the question is, does that content lead to repinning (and thereby amplifying the effect) and click throughs? Does pinterest increase blog traffic or sales?

And in the currency of social media, would 5k pinterest followers provide any leverage in the publishing industry? Would it sway an agent into giving me a chance because I bring an audience of enthusiastic pinners?

A lot of analysts talk about how effective pinterest is for blogs and businesses. I read this article just after drafting this post and I thought it was insightful. It got me to look at what I was doing on pinterest differently and accept that pinterest is most effective for blogs with pins that lend themselves to click throughs; pins that promise instruction or information or 6 pack abs in 5 minutes. None of which are the sort of content my blog tends to offer.

While it may not be the most effective tool for building a fantasy author brand, it is a wealth of inspiration and beautiful and fun images.

I will admit, I don’t get Tumblr. I follow a couple of established authors and their tumblrs are a lot of fun. They post interesting photos or stories and repost fan artwork. They answer questions from fans. It seems like a good way for them to connect with their readers in more than 140 characters.

But, say you’re not an established author. So, you don’t have that audience. Is tumblr really a venue where you can build that audience?

Tumblr, from my observations, faces the same limitation as pinterest when it comes to content. I can tumble a blog post. Or a quote from my novel. I could create some digital art inspired by my novel. Or if I’m getting really crazy, put the quote on the art! I’d be generating my own fanart. Which seems weird.

Outside of that, tumblr is reposting quotes or thoughts from other people, fanart from other stories. It’s a great way to intersect with a fandom and if you happen to have fans, that’s great. But if you don’t… well we’re back to the building an audience question?

Theoretically you could build an audience, or at the very least increase your notoriety by posting and reposting interesting pictures or fun gifs…of other people’s work. But I don’t want to build my popularity by creating (or reposting) fan images for someone else’s copyrighted work. I’ll repost because I’m a fan of that work – but not to build my own brand.

And how high is the click through rate on tumblr? Does having a lot of followers on tumblr (presuming I could get a lot of followers) bring more people to my blog? Or sell more books? It makes me a popular tumblr-er but how do I parlay that into something more effective than, “hey look I’m cool”?

I’m still very new to Instagram but I feel like I understand it a little better. It seems to be a venue balanced between engagement and attention. The hashtags (if used effectively) allow you to expand your reach and connect with new people. Comments allow for that social connection. Cool pictures would garner new followers and noteriety.

If the benefit is just the social interaction (which is a totally worthwhile benefit) then instagram is a great place.

But Instagram, as much fun as it is, seems to be an insular social media venue.
– Like my blog? Check out my instagram!
– Follow me on twitter? Go see my instragram!
– Cross post tumblr and instagram!
It’s a great way to collect the different photos I take. But where does someone liking what I’m doing on instagram link outward to anywhere else?

Here’s the question Instagram raises: Is being popular in a social media forum enough these days? If people know your name on instagram, then they see it in a review of your book or browsing on amazon – are they more inclined to read or buy your book? If they like you enough on instagram, would they seek you out in other places (again like a blog or twitter or… somewhere that you can leverage in other ways)?

And of course, there’s the currency question. What is 10k instagram followers worth to an agent or an editor? More, probably, than 17k on tumblr, maybe. But is it as valuable as 5k twitter followers?

Youtube is an odd one. It can create a lot of visibility and is a very different medium than the others. If you want attention, a good video is a great way to get it. Especially since youtube makes it so easy to share content, whether it’s tweeted, embedded in a blog or posted on facebook (or pinterest or maybe even tumblr – can you tumbl videos?).

Youtube lets you post book trailers (to create awareness and possibly garner some attention). You can create all sorts of cool or interesting ancillary content (like a pronunciation guide – what I never claimed I was subtle). It seems to be a great way to get attention. And I think the attention from youtube can be leveraged better than something like tumblr. I mean John Green certainly uses it well. But did he sell more copies of The Fault in Our Stars because of his youtube channel? Or because he wrote a well loved book that people reviewed like crazy. I’d totally believe his popularity was leveraged in negotiation of the sale of the film rights. But I’m curious, if you’re John Green before he was John Green, is people knowing your name and loving your youtube channel enough to make them buy your book?

Am I missing anything? What do you think of the different social media outlets? And how do you use them to build your brand (whether it’s an author brand or a book blog brand)?

Posted in: in numinous productions ~

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