Saturday, July 30, 2016

Monthly Matinee July: 19 Twitter Tips for Webcomic Creators!

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19 Twitter Tips for Webcomics Creators!

-Glenn Song-

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If you build it, they won't come.

It's not enough to put up a website and host comics.

I know from experience. Maybe you do too.

Eventually, I did have readers for my webcomic, and I built traction but it took time. There are many different ways to promote your comic and build an audience. Twitter is one of those channels.

I'm by no means an expert at using Twitter or social media, but I decided to start learning the ins-and-outs so I could leverage this tool better. I want to share what I learned with you in the hopes that it will give you a leg-up on how to use Twitter to better effect for your webcomic.

9 Tips for Using Twitter

You get 140 characters to say something witty.

That's about as simple as it gets.

But here's some basic and advanced tips for using Twitter.

Basic Tips

1. Hashtags

As you compose your message adding 1-2 hashtags will help it spread further in the Twittersphere. I once posted a piece of art with the hashtag "#oc" (that is, "original character") and to my surprise, it did get a like because someone searched for that specific tag. It doesn't always work like that, and this is an isolated case, but it's a way of increasing your tweet's visibility.

2. Fill out your profile

Folks do look at your Twitter profile and might follow links from it. Twitter has statistics for user engagement with your tweets, and I've always seen several hundred pings against my twitter profile. You get 160 characters for your bio so include a blurb about yourself, relevant hashtags, and a link to your webcomic.

Social Media folks also talk about having a good profile picture. This is probably more necessary if you're running some kind of consulting firm and want to show people that you're trustworthy and approachable to earn their business. But hey, if you're doing conventions it could be a way to let people know who you are.

3. The Twitter period

If you reply to someone on Twitter, the tweet will start with their handle (@AlbinoGrimby), and if that's the case you'll only tweet to that person. If you want your reply to be visible to everyone on your feed make sure the user handle isn't first. Move it to the end of the tweet or just stick a period in front of it like so: .@AlbinoGrimby and everyone will be able to see it.

4. Pinned tweets

That's how you find the pinning option for a tweet.

If you have an important tweet, such as a webcomic update or news about your Kickstarter you can pin it to the top of your Twitter profile page. This way when people visit your profile it'll be one of the first things they see. To pin a tweet, go to a tweet and click on the ellipsis ('...') and choose the option "Pin to your profile page". Twitter will want to confirm with you after you select that option.

5. Direct Messages

It's a private message on Twitter and similar to IM or texting. There's no character cap, so write as much as you'd like.

Advanced Tips

6. Link shortening interface for making short links

Putting a huge link in your tweet eats up a lot of characters. Sign up for which is a URL shortener to save characters. It can also track statistics like how many clicks the link got.

7. Hashtagify

Hashtagify for #webcomics, which gets you more hits than just #webcomic

Which hashtags will get you the most traction? Yes, you could tap into trending hashtags and if your comic is topical and timely that makes sense. If you're looking for hashtags to build audiences in certain niches, then a site like Hashtagify can help you research which tags are useful to you.

8. Tweet Scheduling

UI for Buffer. Obviously your accounts won't be blurred out. :)

It may be nice to schedule all of your comic updates all at once so you don't forget to do it later. For scheduling I am a fan of Buffer, but there's also Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. Buffer and Hootsuite also let you manage other social media profiles as well. They're all free to use but will only let you schedule a limited number of Tweets.

9. Multiple Twitter accounts

Do you have a twitter account for your webcomic, yourself, and your comic book character? It's probably a pain in the butt to log out of one and into another. You can use the Twitter app on your smartphone and stay logged into multiple Twitter accounts and switch between them easily. It does get confusing to know which one is pinging you at any given moment, but once you adapt to it, it's useful.

9 Tips for Building Engagement

1. More Than Self-promotion 

Yes, you want to self-promote on Twitter, but if you're a person reading your Twitter stream, how boring will that be if it's only self-promotion?

Engage with other folks on your feed.

Chat and share things that interest you. One of the things I enjoy about Twitter over other social media platforms is it's chatroom-like nature. It's a lot more fun when you can hit up people (or your twitter friends) for random conversations.

2. Retweeting

Retweeting helps messages and ideas gain virality. If you don't have time to compose tweets consider retweeting material in your feed that interests you, because it may interest your followers, and it's a cheap way of adding content to your stream that isn't entirely self-promotion. Your followers will definitely appreciate it if you retweet their stuff, and hopefully that means your followers will also retweet your messages too.

3. Use Images and Video

This is a no-brainer since we draw comics.

For Twitter, engagement with images or videos is often higher than text-only tweets, so I always try to include an image. If an image catches your eye it might stop your scrolling inertia. There's more of a chance you'll follow the associated link.

For webcomic updates, I wouldn't use the whole comic page unless it's a strip, but in general, you want to tease the user with something catchy to have them click and view the rest.

4. How often should you tweet? 

Let's take it from a follower's point-of-view. Someone following you may have a few hundred other people he's following and that's a lot of content in their Twitter feed. If you tweet once a day it may get lost in that flow of tweets. So tweeting a few times during the day may increase your visibility.

But, when do your followers check Twitter? On the subway to work? During lunch? On the way home? Late at night watching TV? There are tools to help you analyze the best time to tweet. You can probably also go by some common sense guides like late in the afternoon when folks are heading home. Of course, tweet when you're inspired as well.

5. #WebComicChat

@WebComicChat's profile page

#WebComicChat is an hour long conversation between webcomic authors on these days/times:

Saturdays East Coast chat at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST
Sundays Central European chat at 8:30pm CET / 3:30pm EST / 12:30pm PST (keep in mind daylight savings will change the time in the US).

I recommend using Nurph:

It basically turns Twitter into a chatroom and automatically adds the #webcomicchat hashtag, so that your tweet will be included in the conversation stream. This is a great way to network with other comic creators and have your ideas and voice heard. There's a new topic for every session and a bot moderates and presents a new question every 10 minutes to keep the conversation flowing. Don't be stingy with the likes, retweets, and definitely reply and engage with folks to make the most out of the hour. In other words, it's a good time to network.

I don't think this will help you build webcomic readership, because these folks are other creators like yourself, but you could look for other twitter chats like this that might help you build readership, so go forth and explore.

6. Building Followers

How do you decide who to follow? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below. I've read of many different methods. You can follow up to 5,000 users a day. There's some statistical math stating how many of those people might follow you back, but the question is: will this audience engage with you? 

You want to find like-minded folks (i.e. webcomic creators, comic readers) who will chat with you, retweet/like your work, etc. So yes, there's a spammy way of doing it and a more surgical one. The surgical one will take longer, but you may have more engagement on Twitter that way.

7. Reply Back

You have followers and you tweet about your comic, WIP art, favorite media, etc. You figured out how to schedule tweets. If folks like, retweet, or chat back with you, don't leave 'em hanging.

Reply back to them and show them you're present.

I think that's where the true power of Twitter comes into play that other social media platforms don't really have. You can hold a 1-on-1 conversation with someone even in a stream of noise. Facebook is about your friends; Instagram is photos; but Twitter is conversation (if you want it).

I realize we can't be distracted by Twitter like this all the time. If your number of followers are small then doing this 1-2 times a day won't be a chore and will pay off in the long run.

8. #ThrowbackThursday 

It's a chance for you to tweet something you've done, maybe some old artwork for your webcomic. Hashtag it #tbt or #ThrowbackThursday. This is a weekly reoccurring, global Twitter hashtag.

9. #ff for Follow Friday

On Fridays, as a way to give thanks to your followers you can do a "Follow Friday." Hashtag your tweet with '#ff' and add the handles for each person you want to share. It's a way of paying it forward. If you like someone in your twitter stream, then #ff them and allow your followers the chance to know them too.

10. Advanced Search in Twitter

Twitter's Advanced Search

Seek out engagement with new people on Twitter. You can do this by going to Twitter's advanced search and look for specific hashtags, keywords or types of tweets. You could seek out questions and engage with those users. You could find people who have something in common with your comic's theme and talk with them. This is definitely time consuming and it's using the platform in the other direction -- most of these tips are about you broadcasting to followers, but this is about searching out new people who are broadcasting out on Twitter.

Tell Us What You've Learned About Twitter

By no means is this everything you can do with Twitter -- that I know of.

If you have any Twitter tips or tricks, know a great way to connect with folks on Twitter, or have corrections or additional info to add, please share them in the comments below.

Oh, and if you want to follow us: we're on Twitter too!

Tweet to us @StripShowRevue!

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