Gaining A Following

Growing a Social Following from Nothing (article) - Matthew Barby

Remember how I said marketing is all about attracting new supporters and maintaining existing ones? Well when you’re first starting out, your focus should be primarily on the former.

The best way to gather new followers is to share new, interesting content.

Post pages or even specific panels that you’re really proud of, time lapses of your art, your raw pencil work, portraits of your characters… There are a ton of things you can post about.

The key here is to get people excited in your project. You want people to look at your stuff and want to see more.

There are a lot of different techniques that can help you achieve this but basically, you want your posts to both stand out from the crowd, and be immediately eye catching. Because of this, the more visually engaging you can make your posts, the better the response will be. Posting a colourful painting of your characters in action will probably get you more engagement than simply making a generic text post about it. Wall of text posts tend to get scrolled past unless the message is short and interesting.

Also, vary your content when possible. Posting the same promotional art over and over is boring. Show off line work, your character art, drawing time lapses, etc… By mixing up the content you produce, you’ll be able to stay fresh as well as attract different people to your profile.

But I’m just starting out! I don’t even have any finished art yet!

Don’t worry.

Everyone has to start somewhere. Fortunately, not everything you post has to be a finished product, especially in the beginning. When I was first starting out, I was posting pretty basic stuff like concept art, thumbnails and character designs.

Even if you have absolutely no art to post at all, you can still spice up a text update by adding stock art to it. There are plenty of sites (like freeimages, and pexels) where you can search for royalty free photos to stick into your posts. Just make sure you stay within fair use.

While you may think these things aren’t significant enough to post about, just showing them off to your audience can reveal to them that you’re actually making progress and that eventually you’ll have something really cool to show off if they stick around. Lots of projects end up not going anywhere so by posting about your progress, you’ll be able to earn a degree of confidence in your product from your followers. Plus there are plenty of people out there who are genuinely interested in seeing the full comic making process, so don’t be afraid to share! Just make sure you don’t post too much that you overwhelm or annoy your followers.

I also found that posting rough work was a good opportunity to engage directly with my supporters. I would do things like post multiple versions of our main logo to Facebook and get people to vote with their “likes” for their favourite design.

We’ll talk more about this later, but some of the best marketing campaigns focus on engaging the audience. By getting your followers directly involved in the process, they’ll start becoming more invested in your product because they feel like they played a part in its creation. It doesn’t matter how small the contribution, they’ll want to see your project succeed because they put effort into it themselves.

It’s also a good way to get some extra feedback as to what works for your audience and what doesn’t, which is always a nice little bonus.

Oh, and don’t try and boost your numbers by going on Twitter and mass following a bunch of random people. While you may get some people following you back, those numbers won’t actually mean anything. In fact, they could actually be detrimental to your campaign!

Lots of social media sites are now deciding what content shows up on people’s news feeds based on the “quality” of each post. The quality of a post is often determined by the number of people engaging with it relative to the number of followers you have. If you get a bunch of people following you simply because you followed them, odds are they’re not going to “like” or share your content. This would mean that your percentage of engagement would actually drop (more followers but little to no increase in engagement), resulting in your posts dropping in “quality” and thus showing up on fewer people’s feeds.

Ultimately you want to remember that your goal is to gain loyal supporters. The kind of people who will actually step up and support your project when the time comes.

While having an extra 1000 followers is great, getting another 50 loyal supporters is even better.