If you’re trying to build a brand on social media, then you have probably read a lot of articles. You know the kind I’m talking about. The ones that give you tips and tricks for success and coach you on timing and post frequency and video length.
We see them all the time in writing groups. “Follow me!” or “How do you build a following? How do you do this without a book?” Or “How do you do this without feeling spammy?”
The truth is this: There is not one way to succeed at social media. Period. You can chase trends all day long. Will they get you views? Possibly. Once in a while. But what are you adding?
I’ve done digital strategy and social media my entire career, and there are a couple of things that I’ve learned that I want to pass along. Hopefully, they help you.
Figure out who you are first.
This is the hardest part, but it is the most important. Nobody is one-dimensional. Your social media presence should reflect you.
Usually, my advice is to think about three things that you truly love. Three parts of who you are. In my case, three things would be:
- Creative life/writing
- Mom life/parenting chaos/Transition to WAHM life
- Plants/travel/pretty things/inspiration
My ideal reader would likely relate to a lot of these things. Even if they aren’t directly related to my book, they are related to me and give my audience a way to connect with me. It helps me feel authentic and makes content so much easier to create.
Figure out who your audience is.
Are you writing YA? Are you writing romance? Horror? Whatever it is, you need to identify your readership. And not in a broad “I want everyone to read this!” way, but in a real, practical “I know who this person is” way.
In marketing, we call it “creating a persona.” For example, if you write romance, your ideal reader could be Jennifer from Pearland, TX. She’s a 43-year-old white woman with a husband, 3 kids, and a dog. She works in a medical office full-time and is lower middle class. She loves football and decorating her house for holidays and spends all of her free time on her family. She’s busy and tired and uses her books as an escape. She wants more time to herself.
Or maybe your audience is Angela. Angela is a 28-year-old Hispanic woman living outside of Los Angeles. She has no kids, loves to travel, and works too much. She’s single and frustrated by the dating scene. She loves cocktails and fashion and really doesn’t like animals.
Can you see how the content you create for Angela would be very different from the content you create for Jennifer? They’re both romance readers, but they’re coming from very different places with very different lives and passions.
Take some time and think about your ideal reader. Maybe create 2 or 3 of them and find the overlapping pieces that you can speak to. This will help immensely.
Choose your platform.
You don’t have to be good at all of them. No, seriously. Pick one. If a platform is frustrating for you or you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, then go ahead and give yourself permission to stop.
Some people have success on TikTok. Awesome! It works for them. Some people would rather die than make short videos all day long. That’s fine too! Insta or Twitter may be a better fit for you. It’s all going to depend on your strengths, your comfort level with different types of media, your communication style, your audience, your personality, and a million other things.
All of the choices are valid, and all of them can work. It is not a failure to focus on one and do really well and phone in your presence on the others.
There isn’t a silver bullet.
The truth is that no matter what you do, you could fail. You could follow all of the “rules.” You could post 3 times a day and use the “correct” video length and do all of the right things and still get 200 views on every TikTok you post.
And then get 2 million views on a throw-away video you shot while you were sitting in your car.
Being honest about the fact that you have very little control over what works is important. Colleen Hoover herself will tell you that when she started going viral on TikTok, she was not even actively posting. She had nothing to do with her success there—the readers made it happen.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you’re destined for failure or that it’s all doom and gloom. What I’ve noticed is that there are a few things that everyone who is successful has in common:
- Consistency. You have to keep showing up. You can’t post once or twice a month and expect your reach to grow. Regular posting is important.
- Authenticity. This word is a bit played out now, but it’s important. People know when they’re being lied to. If you’re trying to build a brand, then you want people to trust you and know what you’re about. If you start pretending to be something you aren’t, then they’ll see right through you. Also, it’s a lot easier to create content when it’s just a part of who you are.
- Value. Without fail, people who succeed as creators are people who add value. They know what they’re good at and what they have to offer and they lean into their expertise. Sometimes, your value is humor. Sometimes, your value is reminding people that they aren’t alone. And sometimes, your value is a depth of knowledge in a particular area. Whatever it is, identify it and embrace it. Someone would love access to whatever is in your head.
In short, learn what works for you.
You can’t replicate someone else’s success. Take some time and learn who you are, who your audience is, and what you have to offer. If you can do that, then you have a great foundation for social media success. Consider this permission to stop chasing trends and views.
The truth is this: Views do not matter if they are not in alignment with what your work brings to the table. You can go viral with a funny video of your kid or your dog, but how does that benefit you? If you gain 50k followers who are expecting funny animal videos, and you start serving them author content, then you’re going to lose them very quickly.
So do you. Know your limitations. You can succeed in a thousand different ways, and learning what works for your audience and your mission is key to all of it.
About the Writer: Allie Gravitt is a mom of 4 and lives in metro Atlanta with a house full of animals and plants. Her debut poetry collection, prisonbreaks, and second collection Killing Ghosts are available now on Amazon. Follow Allie’s writing journey on TikTok and Instagram.
Book Highlight: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Do you want to get out of the social media world and reconnect with your creative side? Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is the fantastic dose of creative recharging you need to remember why you do what you do. We love this book around these parts. Take a look!
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