by Ronnie Morris
Published at 2022-06-15
These days, social media has become by far the most common way for people to forge new social connections and to stay connected with loved ones all over the world. But for some of us, this really only began to resonate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic caused us to lose opportunities to meet new people in person, or to join like-minded groups. Regular social interaction, it turns out, gives meaning to our lives, decreasing our risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, and low self-esteem. Indeed, the enforced physical distance from what had been our nearest and dearest brought us face to face with the consequences of social isolation. As a result, digital connectivity has never seemed to be more important.
For a while now, I have been manging cultural content on The Editing Company’s Twitter page (@EditingCo). While other social platforms have their own distinct characteristics, which often makes one better than the other depending on your intentions, I have found that the text-friendly world of Twitter provides a great space for engaging with others and promoting your work for those with a literary bent.
Even before the pandemic, many online gurus were already trumpeting the benefits of social media for business—staying in touch with clients, sharing information about products and services, receiving feedback—all of which are certainly made easier by social media applications like Twitter. For writers, this even opened up the possibility of successfully self-publishing their work. Social media has provided many people with a space to build their brand, content, and audience on their own terms.
But regardless of your own aims, on Twitter you need to keep in mind that you have a strict limit of 280 characters to work with. This might seem limiting, but there are benefits to keeping your copy lean: you can make sure your posts are clear and easy to read for as many viewers as possible, for instance. Use your posts to develop a consistent voice and tone and to promote your business’s key services.
And if you have content to draw on, great! At The Editing Company we’re lucky to have a wealth of resources we can draw on—we have this blog, for instance, which takes on different topics every week. Designing content that resonates with your intended audience in this way increases the chances that followers will want to stay followers and keep coming back.
As much as possible, also include an eye-catching image to draw attention to your posts. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but visuals are even more valuable in a forum that limits you to 280 characters. GIFs, emojis, quote images, and memes have thus become the language of the social media space. These graphics can show your personality, making your content more engaging, relatable, and shareable, but they can help to bring your brand to life.
Just like in the real world, online communities are social units that are bonded by a sense of commonality, based on shared interests, goals, or attitudes. This means you can find a real sense of connection with others, even if it is virtual. You can share information with past, present, and potential clients, for example, or you can build relationships with other professionals in your industry. You can even keep tabs on the work your competitors are doing. Others will want to follow you if the stories, lessons, and ideas you share can apply to their own lives.
But it is important to engage with your followers, so that they want to continue to interact with you: engagement produces engagement, after all. Instead of just continuously posting your own content, you need to listen and to interact with the content that others create—to share the stories of your followers, and to follow relevant accounts yourself. You might be surprised to see how many people are inspired to follow you in return.
If you really want to be part of a community, you need to treat social media as a two-way street. That means being responsive to your followers: engaging others by responding to their posts with a comment or a “like” can humanize your brand and motivate them to regularly engage with your posts.
Followers need to know that you care about them and their comments, and that you aren’t only there to promote your business. Nobody likes to feel like they’re only being spoken at; people want to feel like they’re engaged in a conversation.
This means not all of your content should be about promoting your business. In fact, the majority of your interactions thus need to be helpful to the community, even if they ultimately reflect the ideas that you believe in. The remainder of your efforts can, and should, be about your business—that is what you’re trying to promote, isn’t it?
Take advantage of retweeting and mentioning others, as well as #hashtagging, which can help you reach new audiences and make sure your posts are found by people interested in the topic concerned. People searching by those hashtags might even be inspired to follow you for more content.
Here are a few hashtags in the writing and publishing sphere that are already used a lot right now: #writingcommunity and #amwriting for writers, as well as #amediting or (my current favourite) #edibuddies for editors.
In sum, if you want to be successful in the Twitterverse, you need to think of yourself as both a content creator and a curator—making, but also sharing and engaging with content.
Pay attention to what resonates with your audience, and if necessary, optimize your strategy accordingly. Before you know it, you will have built a thriving community—or become an integral part of one that already existed. Then you’ll know that you’ve done your part to put the “social” in “social media.”
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