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Social Media and Marketing in Comics (part 1)

Shadowline Comics’ handler of Promotions and Social Media shares with PCU readers some invaluable tips on how to best utilize social media platforms to maximize their capability.

We all do it. Many times throughout the day, when we are home, at work, at the dinner table, hell… even in the bathroom.

All of us are checking our social media pages throughout the day, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or one of the oodles of online interaction havens where confidants and strangers are all considered friends.

But what most people — particularly those aspiring to grow their standing in the comic book industry, but even those already well established – often fail to realize is that the social media tools that you use day-to-day are an invaluable resource that can be, and should be, utilized to help build your “brand” and develop a following.

For the past nine and a half years I have been working with Shadowline Comics in an amalgamated role of Promotions, Communications and Social Media marketer. What that basically means is that I run all of their social media platforms and help to coordinate the promotion of the comics published by Shadowline and help to also promote the professional creators who do work for our company.

In September 2016, during the Artistacon event in Burlington, NJ, I presented a “Social Media and Marketing for Comics” symposium for those who were interested in learning the ropes on how best to utilize their online tools in growing their visibility.  I have since refined this presentation and in early April delivered a shorter version of the class to the folks in attendance at the Camden Comic Con (at Rutgers Camden campus in New Jersey).

But this is important information and I wanted it to be shared with a wider audience; so the folks at Pop Culture Uncovered have graciously allowed me to provide to their readers (and the Internet as a whole) a three-part series as a less interactive way of sharing what I talk about during these symposiums/classes.

While this is certainly geared towards those who wish to work in the comic book industry, much of the information is relevant to anyone who uses social media – whether it’s daily or only occasionally. These insights and tips and instructions can make your time on social media more efficient, effective and hopefully a more positive experience for you and your fans, friends and followers.

With all of that said, the simplest place to begin is at the beginning – which is where I usually answer the very first question: Who should be on social media?  And my answer to that is EVERYONE.

Are you a writer? Then you should already have a Facebook page (personal or fan page, you decide), a Twitter account and a Tumblr account — at minimum – because words are your weapons and those pages are best for that.  As an artist (and this includes colorists and letterers) you should be on all of the platforms mentions as well as Instagram because you want to access anything that is geared towards visuals.  And if you are working as a publisher or run a company site, then you should be on every single platform out there, even if you’re not quite sure how to use it. You will learn and it’s best to own your name before someone else does.

Now that you’ve created online homes for yourself, you have to learn how to maximize the collective effect of your accounts. You can’t just set them up and leave them alone. You need to use them to their fullest to really achieve the sort of traction to grow via social media,  and not just stagnate or waste time.

The first thing to consider is whether to keep your pages private or public.  There are many reasons for either. Keeping your page private means that you screen out who follows you and who doesn’t, but the tradeoff is that no one can share your posts publicly. For someone whose goal is to spread your influence and work to as many people as possible, you’re hamstringing your attempts right off the bat.  I’d recommend a public page for all of your work and if you’re really worried about stalkers or trolls to create a “personal” page for yourself than can be made for interacting with family and “real life” friends on a more private level.

Two of the biggest mistakes that people make online is that they create pages and let them go untouched and that they post bland boring stuff when they do use their social media accounts.  Once you have your profiles set up and ready to go, be sure to help stand out by using as many visuals as possible (this of course doesn’t apply towards sites like Instagram which are visually based). This increases your visibility when people are scrolling through their various feeds and walls.  Additionally you want to keep your online content fresh. You should be using your pages daily. If you just don’t have the content suitable for that, make sure you’re at least posting once a week. Otherwise people will tend to forget about you.

If time is a concern, you can help by linking accounts together. You can set up most social media to post to multiple outlets at once. I have my Twitter posts automatically post the same content to Facebook.  I also have my Instagram set up to do the same. This helps streamline my time taken as well as syncs up all of the information I’m sharing with friends and fans.

Another big thing to consider is that not everyone uses their social media accounts at the same time, so it’s imperative that important posts are repeated as ICYMI (“In Case You Missed It”) posts. That way if you live on the East Coast of the U.S. and post something at 8 am when most of your West Coast friends are asleep, posting the same thing later on in the day can reach another audience.  You can also set up times posts to help reach other folks across the globe by having your accounts do the work for you while you’re asleep.  This helps reach more followers on their schedule without inconveniencing yourself.

And speaking of followers, many folks are still hung up on follower count.  Yes, it’s great to have tens of thousands of followers when you’re a comic creator – after all, they are all potential customers for your next big project.  But I always value quality over quantity when it comes to online interactions. Social media is rife with follow-back spammers and pornbots, almost all of which I immediately block from any platforms when I see them pop up. No reason to inflate your numbers with pointless followers. Devote your time and efforts to people and fans who actually matter – not those who are merely trying to build up their own follower base and will leave you a week later.  100 loyal fans are much more valuable than 1,000 inactive followers.

You also do not need to follow everyone back. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t follow people back on social media or to let your own perceived fame go to your head when it feels like you’re developing a fan-base. There is a certain level of authenticity that is granted when you see someone who has 10,000 followers and only follows 1,000 people back. Conversely, when someone has 35,000 followers and follows 35,000 back it almost delegitimizes their account because it’s difficult to imagine them utilizing social media in any positive way or interacting with people on a genuine basis. There’s no way anyone is paying attention to what 35,000 people are saying.

Come back next week when I continue this series with information on understanding the benefits of using your social media accounts and avoiding the typical social media mistakes that rising stars can make.  And if you have any questions relevant to the first part of this summary please leave them in the comments section.

About Marc Lombardi (11 Articles)
Marc Lombardi is a proud geek of the comic, movie and television variety with a dash of gamer. He's a social media maniac on Twitter (@marclombardi) and Facebook. Marc also handles Promotions/Social Media for Shadowline Comics, a partner company of Image Comics, and is a former Writer, Editor and Talent Acquisitions Specialist for GrayHaven Comics. Marc lives in Pennsylvania somewhere between Philadelphia and Allentown with his wife Nicole and their 3 cats.
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