Stop being so original on social media
A while back, I made the point that many creative people underperform on social media because they’re creative people. Ironically, the thing that makes them amazing creators makes them horrible social-media managers — originality. Let’s talk about why that is — and how to turn this to our advantage.
Creators are usually pretty obsessed with originality. “Has somebody used this idea before?” “Is this a new approach?” “Am I breaking new ground?” It’s a definitive trait. The need to stand out makes us creators who we are.
None of this is particularly rewarded by social media.
In fact, if you remember the Three Cs of Social Media, you’ll recall that fully one-third of your social-media strategy should be guided by Curation — the sharing of other people’s thoughts and ideas!
Now, consider this. According to Moz.com, the average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes. (That is, unless it gains a large amount of engagement very quickly.) PostPlanner.com suggests that a Facebook post receives 75% of its engagement in the first five hours. Engagement on Instagram is trickier still — likewise for sites like Reddit and Imgur.
Now, consider the Rule of 7 from the world of marketing. Marketing’s Rule of 7 states that a prospect needs to “hear” the advertiser’s message at least seven times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.
Put it all together and you’re left with a landscape that’s quite unforgiving to original content. In fact, social media rewards repetition. Why? Because with a shelf life that’s measured in minutes, it’s nearly impossible to be repetitive on social media. The chances that a single follower will see a repeated message each time it’s re-issued are pretty slim. (And, if they do, they’re likely to simply scroll past it without a second thought.)
Keep that in mind when you feel as if you’re tweeting about your Patreon too much — or when you’re feeling as if no one could possibly stand one more post about your Kickstarter. Not only is this probably not the case, but, according to the Rule of 7 they need to hear that message a few more times — and the odds of that happening are stacked against you without frequent re-messaging.
Use your archive
Aside from breaking out of the “I’ve tweeted too much” mindset, consider what this means for your archives:
- A post that garnered healthy engagement should be filed away and brought back in a few months for another go-round. (As long as it’s still relevant.)
- Seasonal tweets — cartoons about holidays like Christmas and halloween — should be reused in following years.
- Your comic’s archive is a vast — and growing — repository of future social-media posts. Sharing a post from your archive should be as frequent as sharing new work. If you’re like most creators, this is a tremendous untapped resource.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t be striving for originality on social media? Of course it doesn’t. You should always be angling for that devastating tweet that’s going to turbo-charge engagement and gain new followers. But let’s face it. Those posts are few and far between — even for the best of us. When you find yourself between flashes of brilliance, you should be making good use of your social media to do what it’s there for — promote you and your work.
And that’s going to include a healthy does of repetition.