I recently attended a ten-day residency for my MFA Creative Writing program. During this period, we traveled to some historical places and had a variety of lectures and seminars. One seminar stood out to me with how culturally relevant it is right now: the “Social Media” seminar held by Dr. Katherine Ramsland, American non-fiction writer and forensics professor at DeSales University, and Kristin Laudenslager, Director of Web Communications (also from DeSales).
This was one of the most informative presentations I have attended so far. Not to sound pretentious but being a millennial/gen z’er means that if I am to try to stay relevant today, I am going to have to reach out to as many people as possible, and the best way to do that is through social media. The trick is balancing the management of your accounts and your actual writing, because your main goal is to write. Without the writing, social media does not matter. In terms of agents, you will use all your social media accounts and followers to make yourself more appealing to them.
Marketing never ends, yet your social media is not really about selling your work, it’s about creating relationships with current and potential readers. As a matter of fact, about 90% of what you post on social media is not about selling, but rather about community building so that people will care when you do sell. There is a lot of social media etiquette that should go without saying, such as be kind to your followers, do not tag people in promotional posts, and avoid being annoying, but there are a few pieces of advice that I never thought about prior to trying to market myself as a brand. Knowing your target audience is important, it’s not the quantity of followers, but rather the quality and loyalty of your followers – having 2,000 followers is great, unless the majority of them do not interact or connect with your content, that is why you want to make sure you post posts that are meant specifically for the type of fanbase you want to follow your writing.
Another part of that is curating your Instagram page to paint the image you would like to have; for example, if you look at my Instagram, I would want the setup to be clean and minimalistic, but with colors instead of gray and white. I would also like to include some of my writing in there to pique interest in my work (some great examples of page curation (for poets) on Instagram are Rupi Kaur and Tyler Knott). For those who find that their spoken performance is captivating for an audience, IGTV and TikTok are pretty ground-floor right now for that, so in my case, maybe once some of my pieces are published, I could read them on those platforms as well as good old-fashioned YouTube. Although, I may want to veer away from TikTok due to the copycat nature of the app.
All in all, this was an invaluable and vital presentation for every writer in the program, not to mention it would benefit anyone who is working towards a career in writing, newbie or veteran; but it never hurts to learn new methods of obtaining visibility.