Two years ago, I wrote a blog post, “Fishing for Social Media Followers” about my plan to take my platforms to another level now that my new book was done. Today, most publishers require that an author have a good following. I did not have much experience in the phenomenon, and did not have anyone to tutor me. I’m jealous of people who have a young social media genius willing to give pointers in their homes. If I did have one, I wouldn’t care if he ever “left the nest.” I’d even cook for him every night!
Frankly, I was intimidated as I ventured out, and feared it might make a zombie out of me as it has some smartphone addicts I’ve seen. For that blog, I posted a photo of a man looking out into an intimidating vast ocean.
After I set sail, I read three books, including Social Media Marketing for Busy Authors by Fauzia Burke. I devoured online articles like cheese and crackers. They were a huge help. I began asking young people and others for bits of advice during my daily travels. (Unfortunately I still haven’t been able to adopt a “yute.”) I’ve learned a little at a time about using various platforms, and my knowledge has dramatically accumulated over the past couple of years. I keep working to increase my number of “friends” and “followers” and to learn more about each platform.
I’m happy to report that I’m having fun on social media and am getting good results as I promote my book, Norman Rockwell’s Models, In and Out of the Studio. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers will release it in Feb. 2023. Here’s a few things I have learned.
Social media has sold books for me. Many have told me they have purchased it after seeing it in my posts. People have told me they enjoy my comments, such as comments on Rockwell paintings. It’s a nice feeling. I offer bits and pieces about models that appear. I have reconnected with old friends and have had nice chats. Hopefully my encouraging posts have brought good feelings to friends, especially during their rough patches. I’ve even “friended” people I didn’t especially care for from grade school on up. However, I’m not “friending” the guy who never paid three month’s rent. He sends me friend requests. I’m not kidding.
It’s important to “Like” other people’s posts and encourage them as well. Not only do I enjoy them, but let’s face it. it’s good for business.
Steady Wins the Race
I need to work at social media regularly, but can’t let it consume me. A half hour a day is sufficient, although I’ll have to do more during my book launch, which begins Jan. 15, 2023. But I can’t afford to spend long hours doing social media at night because it can get wearing. I refuse to succumb to Zombieism. I believe a slow, steady march is the best way. I’ve gotten like 1,200 followers on my S.T. Haggerty, Author page and 4,600 on my personal page.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linked-In are my best platforms. Facebook is a fit because my readership has many in the 40-100 year age group, although younger people are also interested. I do a fair bit of direct messaging, and I do hear back from people. For example, it pays to go to a FB Norman Rockwell page and send direct messages about my book to people who “Love” the artist’s paintings. I sometimes feeling I am being a pest, but a good number write back and tell me they are thankful I’ve told them about my book because they’re big fans of the artist. No one has told me to tie an anchor to my neck and go jump in a lake.
I haven’t spent as much time on Instagram, but I get attention there too. I send messages to libraries and museums who may be interested in my book. On Twitter, I’ve developed a decent following, like 2,200 people, and I engage in some dialog there too. Some people have said they’ll buy my book, but Facebook works better for me.
I’ve learned many other things. I can’t always post about my book, or else it’s too “salesy,” as they say. People don’t like to be see the cover of my book like buttered bagels in a basket by the coffee in a gas station snack shop. The “1:5 ratio” means 1 post about my book and then 5 posts unrelated to it, such as nature photos, re-posts of other people’s posts, famous quotes, and comments on media articles. I was surprised to see that my photos of trees with bright colored beds of leaves around them during fall foliage received as many likes as I’ve ever gotten.
Short Video Clips
Now I must take another step into the world of video clips. Posting these clips is all the rage now. People consume video clips like hot dogs at a baseball game. However, they demand clips be short, about 1-3 minutes. Experts say no more than that. (I wonder how short the average human attention span will eventually become). I already have some that a video editor has prepared from interviews I conducted. It is imperative that I do more. That means taking some trips to visit Rockwell models in Vermont and dragging someone along to videotape short takes. We can videotape with my smartphone. As long as a person can center me and my interviewee in the phone’s camera, and hold it steady, it’ll work.
I’ve become more skilled at smiling for photos and conducting interviews. No more of those fine art pouting expressions. However, I recently had a photo taken with a U.S. Marine General who is a relative. I figured I’d show it to my daughter. But after I loaded it onto my computer, I saw that my hair was sloppy like that of Boris Johnson, the British Prime MInister. The camera highlighted a coffee stain on my shirt. Darn! How could I have not known? I’m learning to do better with the help of a friend who works in NYC on television crews doing interviews with media stars. I try to remember to make sure my hair is combed, wear a stain-free bright shirt of darker shade, look awake, and smile to appear charming. I’ve learned to speak more concisely and stay on point.
I’ll keep marching onward, learning a little more each week. For God’s sake. If I’m ever with you and someone’s going to take a picture, please tell me if my hair is a mess.