Hello! Rylan Hynes here again, sharing tips about digital platform assessment strategy. In my last post, we talked about taking stock of your current digital presence; where you have established roots; and which platforms you’re currently using. Be sure to grab your notes from part one as we dive into part two—how to improve your overall presence and content.
To start, let’s assess whether or not you are maximizing the potential impact of your content across the different platforms available to you. Say you had a short story published recently—did you post about it on all of your social media platforms? Did you add a link to it or a publishing credit on your website? What about your newsletter contacts—have you shared the good news with them? Make sure that you’re making the most of your content across different channels. And here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Social Media: As you review your social media accounts, take stock on what you’ve been posting. Does it align with your identity as a writer? Do your followers even know that writing is an important part of your life? If not, it’s time to rectify that!
- Website: How current is your website content, and can people find your written work online through your site? If you’re not providing links to pieces you’ve published, you are missing out on sharing your work with more readers.
- Email: Do you send updates to your email contacts about your work? If not, it could be time to develop a plan to stay in touch with your contacts more regularly. Create a newsletter and a schedule to reach out to folks in your circle, and check out the professional email marketing services available to give your content a more polished presentation.
Be honest as you review your profiles about how often are you share content. You might find that you are neglecting some platforms while others are getting more regular attention. If there are big gaps in your activity, consider whether or not it’s helpful to maintain that particular platform. If the profile/platform feels important to keep, set some reasonable goals for yourself to grow your presence.
Consistency doesn’t just count in terms of activity—visual consistency is also important. As you go, check out your profile pictures, the colors you use on your website, email templates, etc., and ask yourself whether or not you are recognizable across the different media. If your brand feels discordant across platforms, think about ways to unify your presence by using similar images, colors, and fonts.
Social media isn’t just a way to crow about what you’ve accomplished (although by all means, please do!), it’s also a social forum. Consider how you are connecting with others through your profiles through what you share, like, and comment on. In terms of your own presence, are you responsive to comments, messages, and questions? Do you tag relevant organizations and individuals through your posts? Are you following literary journals and other publishing stakeholders? As far as email is concerned, do you have a regular newsletter, or do you send updates sporadically? These are all opportunities to join in the broader writing conversation happening online.
In terms of your website, check how accessible you are for people to reach out to. Make sure that you are available to connect with, whether through an embedded contact form or by providing your email address. You never know who might want to get in touch. If opportunity comes knocking, make sure that it has a way to reach you.
Just like a houseplant, your platform can flourish with some nurturing or wither through inadvertent neglect. A simple but important step is to review your privacy options on your platforms. Can people easily find you and follow you online? If you prefer to keep some strict privacy settings in place, that’s up to you, but make sure you are reviewing friend or follow requests regularly to let the appropriate folks into your network.
If you have an email newsletter service in place, give people the option to organically sign up through your website. Most email platforms have pre-built forms and features to add to your site so folks can subscribe to your emails. If you just have a contact list through your personal email, be sure to regularly update it with new folks you meet through writing workshops, readings, and more.
I hope you’ve identified areas for growth through this assessment process. Now is the time to create a realistic plan for expanding your platform in those directions. The first quarter of the new year is an excellent season to set aims and intentions for the months ahead. Just as you no doubt have goals for your writing in 2021, you can develop your author presence by taking stock of your current platform and moving forward with informed purpose.
Rylan Hynes is a communications manager and author. Hynes is a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, which awarded them with a 2020 Martin Dibner Fellowship. You can find their work published in THE RIVER.