First and foremost, because I really enjoy them floating past my social-media feed.
Everything further down from here is pure conjecture.
If you’ve been around on social media, especially if you are a beginning author still building up your fan base, you’re probably wondering how to get noticed. The following are ideas about what might help you.
WAAAAIIIIT. I didn’t get to the point yet, don’t just rush off to post a cat meme.
First, let’s dispense with the obvious. Unless you’re Stephen King, don’t – ever – drop a “buy my book” kind of link. Social media is for social interactions, not for advertising. Just place yourself in the eyes of the person scrolling past your post. Would you stop what you’re doing, click that links, and rush to buy the book? Didn’t think so.
Second is a corollary. Don’t be an asshole. In other words, be nice. Provide value. Again, just think of what would engage you and make you take notice of a new author (or any indie artist, really).
So what gets noticed?
Well, cat memes do, duh. Don’t believe me? Experiment for yourself. Post a funny thing, post an rant, and post an advert. See which one gets the most reactions, consistently.
The reason is twofold. First, people respond to the upbeat posts quicker. Second, social networks will distribute those further. That is not to say that there is some sophisticated artificial intelligence that judges the entertainment value of your post. Rather, the main networks will display your post to a small select group. It will then monitor how many and how fast people engage with it. If people react, it will get distributed further; if people ignore it, it will get buried. In other words, the network AI that makes the decision about whether to distribute your post further rewards engagement.
SIDE NOTE: When someone shares your content, be sure to like that share and comment on it. Not only because this increases the distribution of your original content, but because your mama raised you to be polite.
Back to getting noticed. You are competing for people’s attention. You have a small chance to grab it. You need to use it wisely.
Which, of course, raises the question of what is wise usage? Let’s take a step back and look at marketing theory. Specifically, branding. Your personal brand is not a logo or a signature at the bottom of your posts. Your brand is what people feel when they see your posts, what they associate with you. Seeing your post, they should know it comes from you, and evoke all those (hopefully positive) feelings.
Think about the adverts for major soft drinks, fast food, or anything similar. Chances are, in a blind taste test no one will tell the difference from the competitors. Equally important, no one will go out to buy their stuff immediately after watching the commercial. What the brand advertisement is doing, is cementing a feeling. Then, at the shops, when people are ready to make a purchase, facing two competing products, those feelings will arise. You would reach for the product that resonated with you.
The principle for an indie artist is similar, even if the budget and techniques are not. Don’t post a “buy my stuff” message, because people don’t go from an advert to the shop. Don’t be a negative asshole, because that what people will associate with you.
Important side note. As an indie artist, people don’t buy your wares for utility. They are buying an experience. You are selling yourself first. People need to trust you (your brand), before they will risk their time and money (time probably being the more important factor) on you. The concept is well known, and you will find it in a lot of other industries too – e.g. people will buy insurance based on the agent, not the policy; same with a used car; same with a movie, based on director and actors. They trust that their investment of limited resources will be rewarded based on how they judge you and your capability to deliver this.
So first figure out what your brand is. What image you are trying to project. Whatever genre you’re writing, however you are interacting online, in whatever content that you put out there – there needs to be that fine essence of positivity, that promise of a good experience, so that when the time comes to make their next book purchase yours would rate higher than others.
Cat memes are just an eye-catching thing, a trivial example. There are plenty of other ways you can provide value to potential readers, without directly reflecting your wares. It could be thoughtful articles. It could be funny posts. It could be advice. It could be snippets of experience (lines and micro stories). It should be all of them.
If you’re an author, you’ve probably heard the concept of a through-line. That subtle but important theme that runs throughout your work, that inexorably pushes the plot forward in certain directions, that keeps the focus. This is not much different, just applies across all your social media interactions.
Be honest with yourself, and be honest in your interactions. Put out a consistent message, one that provides value, builds trust. It will take time, but this is how you build your personal brand, your following, your sales.
Anwyay, here’s another Roman-inspired funny cat-meme. Because internet.