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Social Media and Marketing in Comics (part 2)

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.

Picking up from last week’s first part of this three-part series on Social Media and Marketing tips for aspiring comic creators (and for anyone else who just wants to get the most out of their time on various friend and follower apps), I want to dive right into how everyone should understand the benefits to a well-rounded social media presence.

Using social media is all about building your brand. Some people (and I’m not naming names) like to create an online persona and pretend to be someone they’re not. That works for some but is rare. The most successful way to run a social media account is to do so by being as much of a true version of yourself as possible.  Sure, you may want to tone some things down (and I’ll get into that later) but ultimately you want your social media accounts to be an extension of who you are.

And just like any dating app, you want to be sure to highlight the positives and push back any negatives.

If you’re an artist, for example, you want to make sure that you treat your social media accounts like you would your art portfolio.  This is not the place for your worst art. This is where you want to show off your best work.  Providing process work is also great, but just make sure it’s good work. The practice stuff and work you’re not fond of yourself isn’t worth sharing.

For writers it’s the same. Don’t post your rambling old livejournal work and say “Oh boy, look at how terrible I used to be.” Share snippets of the work that you’re most proud of and keep the other stuff buried deep in the ether of the internet.

Your accounts should also be a way to advertise any convention appearances. Switch up your banners and photos to promote what cons you’ll be doing, where to find you at those conventions and encourage people to stop and see you when you’re there. Use pinned posts to make sure that information stays available until the convention is over.

And just like conventions are a great way to make new fans, your social media platforms are the same thing.

As an artist it’s imperative that you use watermarks and signatures on the work you post online. That way – since the Internet has a dirty habit of frequently reposting things without credit – when your work goes viral people at least know who is ultimately responsible.

You should encourage reblogging, retweeting and sharing of any posts that you make. That way you can reach the friends of friends/fans and help cultivate your following that way. Your work is the flower – let your fans be the bees that go and spread the pollen.

One of the greatest things about social media in general is the accessibility it has provided us to those we admire.  (Contrarily, it’s also probably one of the worst things, depending on who you ask).  But places like Twitter and Facebook make it simple to interact with comics professionals and comics journalists on a regular basis to the point where discussion with them can reach a level of chatting with your peers.

Wield that knowledge wisely, and understand the difference between networking and spamming pros and the media.  By all means, feel comfortable discussing topics with well-established folks in comics. But what you should never do it start sending unsolicited “@” messages or private/DMs to industry professionals and media outlets asking them to share the link to your comic page or crowdfunding campaign. That’s on the same level of door-to-door sales tactics and most people don’t tolerate such behavior.

Likewise, posting your art and then tagging tons of unrelated creators in your post doesn’t just get their eyeballs on it – it gets their blood pressure raised as well. Don’t do it. It’s tactless and is quite often a one-way ticket to getting unfriended by someone whose work you respect. Even if you are drawing Deadpool, tagging Rob Liefeld on that post is not how you should approach it. If it’s good enough, he’ll see it.

Another faux pas in regards to tagging creators on social media is offering unsolicited reviews via Twitter and Facebook.  This isn’t Yelp. If you want to give a review on a comic, write for a website or start a blog. Don’t drop a message on someone’s page or tag them in a Twitter post giving them a lousy review of their comic.  I’m not saying that you should only communicate with someone when you like their work, but just put yourself in their situation. You wouldn’t want someone to walk up to you at your job and say, “You’re terrible at what you do” and then walk away.  Unsolicited reviews are spam and can have a very negative affect on how people perceive you.

A negative reputation on social media can stunt your professional growth. You may be immensely talented, but if you act like a jackass online you can develop the reputation of being someone that no one wants to work with. Behave, and your prospects will develop faster.

The same goes for working with various media outlets. Unless you want to end up in the comics tabloids for some rather unscrupulous behavior, your interaction with comics news websites can help develop those places as valuable resources. Respond to their links of articles, develop a rapport with them (and their reporters), and at some point they may come to you for an interview or to promote your new project.  By all means, ask them for email addresses where you can send them samples of your work and send press releases for big projects you’re working on – just don’t spam them on their social media accounts.

Speaking of press releases, learn how to craft one. They can make a huge difference in how people consider your work and specifically how the media outlets will treat you. You’d be surprised how many outlets are excited to receive well-summarized information of you and your work to provide to their readers. Same goes for asking media outlets if they would like PDF review copies of your work. This increases the chance of someone covering your comic work as well as opens up opportunities for interviews and podcast appearances.

Any by all means, once you get those reviews or get booked for an article or an interview on a podcast, make sure that you are using all of your social media resources to share links to these reviews and interviews.  And don’t forget to retweet/repost/reblog the website’s posts as well.

One of the most overlooked aspects of social media networking is the ability to find creative partners for upcoming projects.  Places like DeviantArt and Penciljack are great, but there are countless artists (and writers) out there who are becoming easier and easier to find thanks to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to join various artist group pages both to share your artwork (for artists) and to discover new art talents (for writers).

Follow and join various publishers’ pages to discover new talents that are just starting with them who are still looking for other opportunities. You may not be able to poach away talent from DC or Marvel, but you’d be surprised at how many artists are working at places like Aftershock, Boom!, Zenescope – even Image Comics — and other independent or small-press publishers who are looking to take on more projects and do so at rather affordable rates.

Social media pages for conventions are also a great place to scout for the next break-out art stars.  Scour those places to see who are appearing there in artist alley, and it’s an added bonus if you are attending the show and can talk to them face to face to pitch an idea for a collaboration.

Another big benefit to having a strong following is being able to find new talent or partners by asking your network for recommendations. I know of a handful of comics that strictly came about because one creator asked his fanbase to recommend artists and lo and behold, the recommendations panned out into comics gold. Brian Michael Bendis and Justin Jordan have had tremendous success with this and you can do the same thing.

Speaking of success, check in here next week when I finish this series with information on how to best utilize social media in conjunction with your crowdfunding campaigns and offer some common “DOs and DON’Ts for social media in general.  Like last time, if you have any questions relevant to what has been laid out so far, 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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