Do you know what’s hard? Making comics. Do you know what’s even harder than that? Understanding, and thus, correctly using social media for a business. Well, for me it is anyway. I can make comic after comic and slowly get better. But throw me into the world of Twitter and algorithms, and I’m lost. I try one thing, and it works. I try that same thing later, and it doesn’t. Sure, I know how to send a tweet or post a photo on Instgram. But when trying to gain exposure as an artist/business, what I don’t know is how to really make these platforms work for you.
OK, I don’t want to complain too much, or sound like a man out of time who doesn’t understand the Internet. I do “get” social media. But what I found out was there’s a big difference between running a personal account and a professional (business/artist) account. See, back in the youthful days of…two years ago, I thought you could slap a picture on Instagram and call it a day. But now I’ve come to learn there’s a lot more to it than that. There are all these articles telling you how to best use your social media presence. I’ve read several and they all say the same thing: timing is key. That is, each social media platform has a pique time to post your content. However, I ran into a bit of a problem: every article I read had different suggested times. What I mean is, it seems like every article I read had different answers for the best time to post. One would say it’s best to post on Instagram during these hours, then another would say completely different. Thus, I was no better off than when I started.
This sort of preamble you just read was simply me getting a little stress off my chest, and I promise the rest of this experience will be much more positive. Now, these days you must consider social media in your game plan when getting your comics out to the world. I know it sounds like a pain, and I didn’t make it any better up there, but it’s the reality of the situation. Getting on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and whatever new platform they create in between the time I write this and you read it, is good practice. There are some out there who are quite adverse to the idea. But personally, I don’t understand that. If you’re putting your work out there, any social media you use is literally free advertising. That, being the bottom line (money!) for me, is quite enough.
This is not to say that using social media will always come easy or naturally. There are many times I complain about having to write, draw, ink, color, and letter a comic, then, after all that, I have to find the time to advertise myself numerous times. It can be hard. Especially if you’re like me and, while you love comics, they don’t quite pay the bills. Thus, I have to run between comics, my day job, and whatever else is happening in my life. So, every now and then, it slips my mind to stop and post. This may not be a problem for those creators younger than me, as social media is more built into their lives. Don’t worry, that’s not a “kids these days!” remark. That’s a positive for them. But for me, sometimes I just don’t have the energy or presence of mind to go into the social media landscape and peddle my wares. So yes, it can be hard. But, let me tell you, it’s good practice and it really can help.
Let me toot my own horn for a second. Recently, I did a review for the book Macanudo, a collection of Argentinian comic strips by Liniers. I went to Twitter, sent out the link, and Liniers himself commented and retweeted it. Hold on, I’m not bragging here. What happened next was my website had a huge boost of visitors from Argentina! All in all, my website had the most views in a long, long time. That means my writing and my comics got some great exposure. All this because of someone I’ve never met. This would not have happened without that little blue bird. It was actually quite surreal for me, getting attention not only from the author, but from a country outside of my own. It was great.
So, yes, the best thing about social media is, when the conditions are right, it will give you exposure. Let’s look at another example, the often mocked hashtag. These are an easy target in our culture, but they are actually great tools. When on Instagram or Twitter, using hashtags will help other people find you. I have made many artists connections by going to Instagram and searching the hashtag “making comics” or something along those lines. This lets me see anyone in the literal world who used this hashtag. And that means when I use that same hashtag, people who never would have seen Egghead, will find it. They’ll read it, and occasionally I’ll get a like and a follow. More follows means more people see the strip, and all is right with the world. As a quick aside, let me say that I learned the true power of the hashtag in a much different setting. I once jokingly hashtaged “beard” on a photo of mine. Within minutes three attractive women, from different parts of the world, had liked the photo. It was then I understood.
Now, yes, often times social media is quite negative and time consuming. But if you set up a regiment (i.e. I will tweet three times a day, and scroll through for ten minutes), it’s much easier to avoid the toxic atmosphere. Plus, when dealing mostly with other artists, it’s far better an experience. And I know that after a long day, it’s not on the top of the list jump onto various social medias. But, if you’re looking to have your work seen (why else are you making it, really?) then there are great benefits to the dreaded social media. I mean, every week on Instagram, I put out my entire Egghead strip so everyone can scroll through and read it. This has, on average, improved the interaction with and viewing of the strip. It’s pretty great. And, ignoring the articles mentioned in the beginning about timing, you will eventually find a pattern that works for you. The activity you get will start to present itself…probably.
Like all things art, you have to set up a bit of a schedule for yourself in order to properly use your medias de social. But, in time, it will become another arm and will give you exposure. And, seeing how it’s free, there’s not much to lose. The moral of the blog is, social media can be a powerful too if you let it. Just look at me, I’m a big deal in Argentina now.