It’s widely accepted that successful entertainment professionals should cultivate a social media presence. The same thing applies to publishing—of course for authors, but also agents, editors, and others involved in the industry.

But just having social media and posting occasionally isn’t enough. In order to garner engagement, you need to know who you are; you need to build a brand. Here are a few tips for cultivating and maintaining your brand in the publishing industry.

Your posts are your comp titles.

Post the kind of content you’d like to see in the world. Just like an author finds comparative titles when selling their manuscript, publishing professionals should understand that the way they use information reflects their professional interests. That means that yes, you should be talking about books, but you should also be talking about the content that interests you. If you’re a writer, maybe you’d like to give writing tips or talk about your process; if you’re an agent or editor, you can talk about the content you’re looking for. But you should also talk about your interests outside of your profession. Agents interested in Queer YA should be involved in the queer community. Editors who specialize in sci-fi/fantasy can talk about the video games, movies, and TV shows they’re interested in at the moment. Books don’t exist in a bubble and neither do you.

Your posts represent your role in the workplace.

The content you post is representative of you as a professional. That doesn’t mean your posts should be uptight and refined, but it also doesn’t mean they should be casual. A good social media presence is like a pair of jeans—casual and versatile. Don’t let your social media be slacks or sweat pants.

Everyone can see your social media profile, and that’s kind of the point—you’re trying to express yourself to a wide audience. This means that you should take care as you’re posting. Sometimes, social media can feel like a private journal or something only your friends will see, but that’s not the case. Don’t post anything on your social media account that you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with your boss or peers.

Your posts should have a purpose.

What are you trying to get out of your social media experience? New readers? Peers to workshop with? Writers who are interested in your services? Professional connections? Narrowing this down is the key to knowing what sort of content you should be posting. You should always be posting with a specific person in mind. It’s okay if your social media profile is aimed at more than one audience, but you should always be attempting to engage at least one person. In a field where likes and retweets are king, your posts should be appealing and engaging.

You should also know your audience, and by extension, know where your audience will be. If you’re trying to engage with the YA community, try a platform like Tumblr. If you’re interested in a visual medium like comics or picture books, Instagram is the place for you. No matter who you’re trying to reach, though, I can’t recommend Twitter highly enough. Twitter is the easiest platform for engaging with strangers on topics you’re interested in. It’s the best way to express yourself, and a measly 280 characters allows you to limit yourself and show your writing and editing prowess. It’s also the easiest platform for storytelling and shareability.

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