Part 8: Feel the Love?

Or suffer the consequences. Blurb it?! How do you describe the romance between you and your followers on social media in under a few hundred words? It can’t happen.

[New Here? Missed the previous chapters?]

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What You’ll Learn:
  • Love is always a two-way street
  • Never mistake the love for something else
  • Turning that love into money or support shouldn’t be easy
  • Lines of Communication Matter
  • Giving leads to receiving

You say you love them, but prove it

Start by taking their time & energy seriously. Not relying on it like they were your own personal focus group, cheering section, or at worse people’s whose influence you can exploit to get more work.

That is what they are, and also probably your close friends and family. They will be supportive, but they are not going to either sustain or be lasting lifetime sources of income. What is not ascertainable is the amount of love they have for you, but what is measurable is how much they can love what you are doing beyond the vanity metrics and what they are willing to do to promote it.

Measure, Pivot, Measure Again, Repeat

It seems to go against convention, or common wisdom, if they like it or comment, then you are doing something right — not exactly. As if your personal or professional branding was nothing more than an exercise in self-empowerment. While selfies can arguably be defined as exercises in self-improvement or the height of a narcissistic age, they really exist on a spectrum. There isn’t a fast & hard rule for them.

What you can expect however is that using that as your strategy for selling your art or building your business up, is very limiting. It only allows people to applaud, give you a standing ovation, and your nearest or dearest to pat you on the back. What value does it have for that person you’ve yet to sell to?

Switching the strategy from a simple happenstance, narrated through pretty pictures and a few words to provide setting. Or worse trying to sound like [M]ad men, no matter how much self-deprecation you bake into it in the name of irony is going to fail. Even if what you are selling to them is humor and ironically driven.

That aside from the likes and comments, the real hurdle to overcome is to get them to share it. Not just share your post of it, but to actually get them to seek it out, find it enthralling, and write a convincing testimonial when they share it. If that isn’t your goal, then you need to realign what you are doing.

They like it but they don’t love it

Many creatives have gone broke, more than we report on, from an abundance of likes & comments. That these things will guarantee you a spot in the algorithm, but won’t line your pockets or stuff your bank account. This happens repeatedly in this new economy of attentions. Setting what you do apart from these ‘viral’ strategies is key. If what your offering is bespoke, one-of-a-kind, then why are you hawking it like a street peddler or busker?

There is nothing wrong with aiming to get some virality to what you are doing, wanting the world to notice, but that is like playing with fire. That while you are stressing over it, make sure your house is in order. Don’t get caught unawares when or if it happens.

The most common theme among creatives is throwing all their weight & energy behind the lastest platform in a gold-rush mentality. Oh, everyone is using Instagram it says, so let me put all my work there and get as many followers. Then the commissions or jobs will come rolling into my inbox. Not exactly. If you’ve just read that ___________ is the latest and greatest thing, it has already piqued, and there are joke / spoof accounts there already hogging the algorithm, with pointless and needless clicks. Tons of comments they hardly bother to respond to, and they are a young adult or unemployed comic with tons of time on their hands to swipe content and repackage for their audience. It sounds depressing, but being them and not monetizing that in any way, is even more deflating.

Virality is not vitality, don’t forget that

You can become necessary and worthy in the eyes of the person you want to hire or read your work only after you’ve thought like them. Put yourself in their shoes, and remembered that context is more important than the content. If the content isn’t the be all & end all, and social sharing only allows you to share the work unless it is snackable, easy on the eyes, and leaves people wanting more, why bother? If what you do is more comfortable & relatable in a book club, for writers it should be, then you have to ask yourself where do they go on the web, where do the connect.

Usually this looks like off-the-shelf-advice as in go to GoodReads, Medium, or some other smaller outlet. And while these are huge entities they really operate on and center people with huge followings. Having seen nearly the same thing written before on a blog, and then seeing those ideas repackaged and take off for someone who just happens to have more share-happy, endorsement wielding followers is sad.

They always miss the crucial aspect, while also telling you to get on a Facebook Group, or put it out there on Twitter, each worthwhile in certain regards but if you are just talking to other writers, and others in your subgenre, are you really getting sound advice from the people you want to be your base source of income?

In the case of writers, we hope you know that other writers read avariciously. So yes, in some ways they are your base. Yet if you are taking & getting advice from them, some of which will be good, their experiences, etc… if they aren’t at the point you want to be, I’m not sure their advice won’t just put you in the same position they are. Also what qualifies them to look at the whole picture and not filter simply through their anecdotal evidence? Yet they are the people who will use their platform to connect you to their readers.

An act of generosity is better than a hard sell

At 99 cents for your book, or art, you can hardly afford to give it away. So the next best thing is to be generous with your blurbs. That is what writer’s twitter is full of blurbs for others work, or thoughts, or tweets. It works, but if everyone is doing it then it has very little meaning. That your work has to passionately grab them, the loud mouth influencer, and well power protects power, so you can’t be critical of them, it has to be palatable to the masses, and then it will get traction.

Activists online disprove this everyday. Taking an issue like diversity, street harassment, representation, and other things which to most of us might be important. In thinking about your brand, which is wondering what they will say about you (outside the comments under your social media post), are they excited to recommend what you do? Have you tried to build up that excitement? Have you considered them beyond getting them to just pony up with the 99 cents and hit buy?

Certainly you must humanize this, but most creatives feel so self-conscious about their work or talent, that they’d much rather someone else do this. Not being able to afford that they write what we jovially call: “I, me, my” biography, or worse a third person heresy, and think this is what people are looking for. It is the dating profile paradigm.

You are not dating your followers, they do not like or love you, this is not a contest for their affection. They follow you for whatever reason, and most you won’t ever understand why, but shouldn’t curtail you from just doing what you are doing. Monitoring or being mindful of what and how you post. They should like or love what you do, not you. You are in some ways irrelevant.

That sounds dire, but it needn’t be, you are more than your creative efforts, certainly more than what you post on social media, and do an elaborate calculation most of the time before you post anything, even just on your personal account. It is a means to an end, and you must respect that connection.

Tomorrow we will discuss all the ways these connections manifest themselves between personal accounts and your branded ones. It is more than just coming up with a business-adjacent tone or language to help you.

Part 9→

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