COM0015 Blog #2 – Strong and Weak Social Media Strategies

By Cindy Macdonald

It’s no surprise a writer would have a good social media presence, but some transcend the ordinary. Kevin Hearne is one of those. He has a funny, personable, positive social media feed on Twitter and Instagram.

Hearne (@KevinHearne and KevinHearne on Insta) uses his social media platforms to build followers and promote his books. But it’s not all promotional material. He personalizes the feed with photos from his walks and recipes for favorite his drinks. Hearne writes fantasy novels and seems to have a bit of a quirky personality, so he uses this engage with his followers.

Here’s an example from Sept. 23 on Twitter:

I got on the Buckleberry Ferry just ahead of the wraiths and now I’m taking the ring across the river to meet Gandalf in the village of Bree. Sure hope he’s on time. (But seriously the ferry was fast and fun and the wraiths hardly screamed at all.)

And from Instagram Dec. 7:

Hearne has 10K followers on Instagram. Since COVID began, he’s been doing Instagram Live events, often related to him creating cocktails. His readers would be adults and likely skewed more heavily toward men, so this fits his audience.

Related to writing and books, another stellar social media account is the Twitter feed of Sotheran’s, an antiquarian bookseller in London. How could such a boring niche have an outstanding social media presence? Well, it hinges on poking fun at oneself, pop culture references and a great writer.

Sotheran’s can be found on Twitter at @Sotherans. The tone is set by this first pinned Tweet:

we are Sotherans & we sell old/rare books

we are so old that no-one remembers we exist, thanks to centuries of polite marketing

we have a clock that doesn’t work, a stuffed owl and at least one relatively amenable ghost

find us at http://sotherans.co.uk

The account has 22.2K followers.

One particularly amusing thread from Nov. 24 goes like this:

today I get to discreetly drop off a package of occult books at a train platform in an exchange with the butler of a man I’ve never met which should give you an idea firstly of the lengths your bookseller will go to for you and secondly how much of a caricature my life has become

Later:

delivery made

he was very handsome

alas duty calls elsewhere and I know better than to be lured into a dark magic cult by a pretty face, been there done that, got the pentagram

Posts are made by Oliver, according to the company’s Twitter bio. Oliver does a great job of building up an image of his store as old, stodgy and queer. He rarely discusses products but does provide many insights into the business of rare books. Mostly, he produces amusing vignettes of his work life. I, and many others I’m sure, follow simply for the entertainment value.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Township of Rideau Lakes is taking baby steps into the social media sphere but it could benefit from an infusion of personality.

The Township uses Facebook frequently (2 -3 times per week) but would also benefit by using another platform as well. Many of the Facebook posts are photos or graphics (event posters, etc.). These could easily be posted on another platform with little extra effort. If the posts were repeated on Instagram it would be more likely to reach residents in the Millennial and Gen X groups.

Rideau Lakes should also inject some personality into its social feed and use hashtags and keywords. For example, announcements related to COVID-19 don’t have any hashtags to connect them to the larger issue and a larger audience. Currently, there is little sharing of posts, very few comments, and no response from the organization on the rare occasion there is a comment. Using hashtags and keywords, plus engaging with the community, would help raise the visibility of the page and get it noticed by Facebook.

The Rideau Lakes Facebook page has 3000 followers, compared with an adult population of about 9000 in the Township.

The Township’s mayor produces a monthly video message posted to YouTube and Facebook, which is a great idea. Video posts attract much more attention than static posts.

Good social media comes down to personality and good content. We’re all there looking to be entertained, after all.

About me: After more than 25 years as an editor of trade publications, I’m now learning social media techniques. I’ll be writing about news, communication, social media and travel as I go through this career transition. Please join me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog, and we’ll chat.

3 thoughts on “COM0015 Blog #2 – Strong and Weak Social Media Strategies

  1. I have noticed that the social media accounts of authors include both promotion of their latest works and insights into their lives. A couple of authors who I follow are Stephen King, who spends much of his time commenting on the news of the day, Neil Gaiman, who seems to talk very little about himself but rather focuses on retweeting and sharing content to his 2.8 million followers.
    The antiquarian book store sounds like a charming place which I would love to visit. It seems like the kind of place which is full of overstuffed chairs and has the smell of old books in the air. Many of the books are probably in tall stacks and I feel that an old cat wanders the aisles, looking for a sunbeam to nap in.
    Municipalities, especially smaller, rural ones, are often slow to adopt new technologies. Part of the problem could be a lack of high speed internet in the area and a lack of expertise within the ranks of the public service. I checked their website and it does not appear that they have anyone on staff (at least listed in the directory) who takes care of social media or communications. They are likely just dipping their toe into the social media world finally.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Twitter keeps suggesting I follow Neil Gaiman, but I’ve resisted since I don’t read much of his stuff. Re: municipalities, I agree. That’s the kind of part-time work I’m hoping to pick up once I have my certificate.

  3. Hello Cindy, when I tackled this assignment I didn’t think to assess the social media campaigns of individual people but your analysis has been eye opening. Of course, individual people have their own brands and their own stories to share and sell. I think it’s actually much more impressive when someone can build their own brand and attract thousands of people simply due to their good humour and interesting identities. I really enjoyed reading your blog post as it had a completely different perspectives. Thanks!

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