Getting Started: Social Media for Lit Mags

Black and white photo of women reading on verandah photo by: State Library Victoria Collections

Nearly everyone these days is keen to the fact that authors, artists, nonprofits, and publications need to be on social media, but that doesn’t negate the fact that sometimes, the whole thing can be overwhelming! When I started working with Hayden’s Ferry Review’s social presence, it was clear that many publications (not to mention authors and creative foundations) were making an effort but somehow missing the mark. It doesn't have to be that way, though! In an effort to streamline my efforts and to ensure that I was only posting interesting, valuable content, I stuck to a three-punch approach that spun our one-way conversation into a true community. I hope these work for you!

Schedule posts about your publication’s upcoming events

If you don't yet have a service for scheduling social posts, this is step one! Services like Hootsuite are free and allow you to write and schedule posts far into the future, so you can batch your work and get it done quickly. Use this service to schedule posts about your upcoming events, and link to a page that contains more information. As a practice, I usually scheduled a total of three posts about a single event: one about a week before the event, one the day prior, and one the day of. In addition to your own events, also post about events where your staff or contributors will be involved. Make time to schedule these types of posts once a week, and your social feeds will always be relevant and never silent.

Join in current community conversations

Every day, take a scroll through your incoming feeds (which should be populated with peer publications, authors, and your industry's publications), and find a conversation to join in. Share an article on the ongoing conversation, and add some valuable insights to the conversation or post a question regarding the situation. Being involved in and knowledgeable of ongoings in your field is a way for you to engage with peers and authors, as well as show some thought leadership.

Strike up a conversation with questions to your community

Whether playful or serious, taking the time to ask your audience what they think about something is a great way to really engage with your community. Instead of being a blasting horn for news and events, take the time to ask people what they're up to or thinking about! (It should go without saying, but the conversation doesn’t stop with your initial question. If someone answers you, engage in conversation!) No one likes a narcissist in real life, and that goes doubly for social media. If you want people to stick around and care about your events and updates, they need to feel like they're in a true relationship, where communication goes both ways.

Getting into the habit of posting three times per day in each of these categories ensures that your social content is varied, informative, and engaging. There’s more that can be said about social media best practices and how to get better engagement rates, but if you stick with the foundational principles at work in any type of conversation, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating a rich, vibrant social community.

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