PUBLISHED MARCH/APRIL 2021
by Matthew Winner, Head of podcast, A Kids Book About —
Give your social media presence and voice the boost they need to draw others in and grow your accounts.
- The most basic goal of social media is helping others understand the “you” behind the account.
- it’s crucial to consider who is viewing your content and what relationship you are reinforcing between you and your viewers with each post.
- Growth on any social platform can be slow, but it can also be deliberate.
Who are you?
At its most basic level, social media is seeking to answer this question with every post, comment, like, or share, regardless of platform or tool.
Consider the following reasons why folks in publishing or publishing-adjacent roles participate in literature-specific spaces over social media. Regardless of where you fall into the categories of reader, author/illustrator, or publisher, challenge yourself to identify why you have stepped into those digital spaces in the past.
If you’re a reader posting on a social media platform, are you …
- Looking to signal to others your interests in terms of books, authors, genre, or topic?
- Seeking a community to engage with in conversation about books?
- Hoping to share correspondence with those who write, illustrate, or publish the books you love (or those you want to challenge)?
- Pursuing notoriety for your posts, style, voice, etc.?
If you’re an author or illustrator posting on a social media platform, are you …
- Advertising your book in order to support future sales or author events?
- Seeking to engage with your readers and the reading community at large?
- Researching by building connections with experts in a given field of study?
- Participating in a community of like-minded individuals sharing a common interest or skill?
And if you’re a publisher posting on a social media platform, are you …
- Communicating in a presentational mode (most commonly visible in advertising) with your viewers/followers?
- Gathering data on how other people are sharing or talking about your books?
- iving away books and materials through free resources, giveaway contests, etc.?
- Inviting other voices onto your account, such as authors, experts, etc.?
- elebrating favorable reviews, accomplishments, and awards your titles have received?
Remember what I posited as the most basic goal of social media? Helping others understand the “you” behind the account.
What you post on social media, how you use your voice, and whether or not you engage with others all contribute to how folks will come to know and understand you, your books, or your company via social media. It’s also how folks will come to know your values. And that’s not something to take lightly.
But before we go any further, I think it’s also important to take a moment to acknowledge that social media is meant to be social. There are real human beings posting content on social media platforms, just as there are real human beings viewing, consuming, interacting with, and/or responding to that content.
Your end goal might be to sell more books or to gain more followers or to raise greater awareness around your work or company, but if you’re not considering who is viewing your content and what relationship you are reinforcing between you and your viewers with each post, you’re doing it wrong.
I often start presentations on social media by asking attendees two questions: What is your online presence saying about you right now? And are you OK with the answer to that question?
Based on personal experience, growth on any social platform can be slow, but it can also be deliberate. And there are actions you can take to give your presence and your voice the boost it needs to draw others in and, in turn, grow your social media accounts. And since we all like a handy acronym, let me encourage you all to be a bit more SOCIAL with the following tips.
Start with one.
Every social media platform has an audience, but that does not mean you need to be on every platform. Investigate the tool (the big ones are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). Understand how content works on said platform (e.g., Instagram is all about eye-catching photos while Twitter leverages hashtags to amass large communities in conversations together). Create accounts to secure your username across platforms if you’d like, but rather than spreading yourself too thin, focus on getting really good at one platform. Then, once you feel like you have a handle on how that platform works, turn your attention to others if that feels appropriate or necessary.
On the regular.
While the algorithms for visible content change from one platform to the next, every platform benefits those individuals or accounts who use it on a regular basis. Keeping consistent by posting daily and around the same time(s) of day will help bring more eyes to your posts. Think about it this way: You have certain times of day when you are more likely to browse content on social media. Similarly, so will your viewers. By sticking to a schedule, viewers will come to watch for or rely on your posts to be published. This can also help you set boundaries on how often you post, helping you to work smarter, not harder.
Content. Content. Content.
It’s exciting to have followers. It’s fun to read comments. It’s cool to see your voice and your content being read and enjoyed by others. But if you’re not posting content, all of that just sort of grinds to a halt. Similarly, if you’re posting nearly the same thing over and over, it’s going to become boring and indistinguishable for your followers. Be sure what you share is quality before you hit that “post” button. Does it serve a purpose? Does it help followers to better understand who I am/we are? Is it different from the last post (or last three posts)?
If you’re an author, you’ll need to decide whether or not you’ll share personal content. Regardless, the account and the content should represent you, not just a single book. You are more than that. And your followers are reading your posts in order to know you better.
If you’re a publisher, sharing your books is always a go-to, but what else can you share that’s adjacent to the books you publish? Could you publish quotes from your books or your authors? Process art shots? Favorable reviews? Photos of readers holding your books? Bookstores where your books are carried? There are so many ways to give voice to who you are and what you do through simple posts.
Invest in time management tools.
Unless you have a dedicated social media staffer, setting boundaries for when you hop on social media to share content is key. You can do this by literally setting aside blocks of time each day to post on social or to check your social media notifications. You can also take advantage of social management tools such as Hootsuite and Loomy to schedule your content to automatically post whenever it works best for you. By scheduling your posts, you’re now free to interact, respond to comments, and be social during your time spent on social media.
Allow new voices onto your platform
Who says you need to be the only one on your social media account? Handing the reins to someone else for a time can be a great opportunity to highlight a different voice or perspective on your platform. It’s also a great way to bring new followers to your account. If you’re a publisher, consider inviting one of your authors to “take over” your account during their release day/week. They can give firsthand accounts of writing the book, share process or inspiration shots and insights leading to the book’s creation, and they can invite others to follow them or check out the book if they’re curious (which many will be!). If you’re an author, watch your notifications for when others tag you on social with a review of your book or a photo of a reader with your book. Request permission to share the image on your account or repost or retweet it with a quote. This not only serves your book, but also your readers. I know it always means a lot to me when an author or illustrator shares the words I’ve been sharing about their work.
Like other people’s stuff.
It is a social media platform, after all! It’s important that you not only share great content but that you also like the great stuff other people are posting. This builds reciprocity and also helps establish you or your company as part of a community. Plus, telling other people that you appreciate their stuff is nice. It’s good to be a good human.
It’s a great, big, connected world out there, and you’re going to be great! Just be yourself and know that what you post says a lot about you.
Matthew Winner is the head of podcasts at A Kids Book About where he leads the company in creating a podcast network dedicated to helping kids and their grownups have honest conversations by making podcasts about challenging, empowering, and important topics hosted by individuals from diverse backgrounds who know the topic firsthand. He’s also the host of The Children’s Book Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators, and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. Winner also co-hosts Kidlit These Days, a Book Riot podcast pairing the best of children’s literature with what’s going on in the world today. You can connect with him on Twitter, on Instagram, and on his website at matthewcwinner.com.