It can be hard to keep up with social media best practices as algorithms seem to change on an hourly basis, and it can be tempting to try shortcuts to make promoting your web series less of a slog. However, many common social media tactics, while efficient, are actually probably hurting your chance to be taken seriously online. Below are 5 of the worst social media habits I’ve noticed, and what to do instead.
Tagging companies/people/press in photos they aren’t in
I didn’t realize how prevalent of an issue this was before I took over Stareable’s Twitter account, but tagging press and people you want attention from in generic promotional photos of your series is not the way to get them to retweet or interact. Why would a company with no connection to your project and no relevance to the post want to get every single notification associated with said post? All it does is clog up their notifications, making them significantly less likely to want to help you then or in the future.
It’s the more annoying social media equivalent of sending a mass email not personalized at all asking for help with a crowdfunding campaign or asking for press coverage. People want to feel special, as do companies, and if they’re obviously just one of many and you haven’t done any work making sure the post or request is specific to that company’s mandate, they have no reason to help you out.
What To Do Instead: If you want a company or piece of press to know about a post, tag them in a separate reply to it, or DM them the tweet you’d like help with that includes a personalized message as to why they would want to help. Even better, if the company or publication you want promotional help from has covered you in the past, or you’re listed on their site (coughStareablecough), personalize posts using their links (like to an article or your particular listing). Example: “Watch our new episode now! You can find us on Stareable here: [link].” or “Thanks again to The Daily Fandom for this great article about our series! [link to article]. We’re actually crowdfunding now to make more episodes- would you be willing to help us spread the word? [link to crowdfunding]”
Auto DMs for new follows
In theory, setting up a casual-sounding automatic direct message to thank people for following you on Twitter and offering links to your work makes total sense. After all, they’re following YOU, so there’s gotta be some level of interest in your work already.
In reality, it is 100% obvious when it’s an auto-DM message, and it always rings false. It makes you seem less authentic, less legitimate, and less worthy of following because you couldn’t take the time to legitimately personalize a message. Efficiency in social media and marketing is rarely effective.
What To Do Instead: Put in the work. It’s less efficient, but far more likely to actually get you results. Write up your standard template, then personalize each DM you send to the person who’s just followed you. Are they another web series? Are they a fan of more mainstream content that’s thematically similar to yours? Use that as a reason for them to check out your work!
Posting promotional materials without links
If you are going to post a promotional image or GIF or video, especially one with a call to action (“support us on Seed&Spark!” “watch our latest episode!” “stay tuned!”), there should be a link somewhere in the post. I once watched a friend post 17 individual crowdfunding images on her Facebook page over the course of several weeks, and not a single one had the actual crowdfunding campaign link. There wasn’t even a text overlay on the images of the link (example below).
What To Do Instead: Make it as easy as humanly possible for people to carry out your call to action. Put a link in the tweet text and overlay the vanity URL on the promotional image. The point of a promotional post is to promote, but if someone sees your post and can’t engage further because you haven’t given them a link or a direction, that’s where their engagement with you ends. You don’t want it to end! You want to redirect them somewhere to keep the party going.
Auto-posting Instagram photos to Twitter
I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: stop auto-sharing Instagram posts to Twitter. It looks bad. Especially when the caption gets cut off so it’s not even an intelligible tweet in its own right.
What To Do Instead: Just share the photo on Twitter again. This one’s easy.
Top example: good! Bottom example: bad!
Only posting in communities when you need something
This is the big one, and one that came up several times during the podcast I recorded with Tom Pike about marketing. You cannot expect people to respond favorably to you when you only reach out because you need something, and you also can’t expect people to not know Exactly What You’re Doing. They do. Everyone on the internet knows how the sausage gets made.
What To Do Instead: Engage with communities as a member of them, or as someone who has made something with that community in mind. Then join conversations rather than showing up, posting a link to your content, and ghosting. There’s a reason if you post an out of context promo post for yourself in Community.Stareable.com I immediately take it down and send you a personal message- if I let everyone do that, that’s all the community forum would be! (Looking at you, Web Series Today Facebook group)