Crunching Numbers on Your Network

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the various responses—good and bad—my editorial cartoons get on Twitter. And honestly, there are times when Twitter feels like a particularly hellish part of the social media landscape, especially when it comes to political commentary, where the critics and trolls (and likely more than a few Russian bots) run wild. Thankfully, though, there’s more to Twitter than just political gristle, and in terms of general comic creation, it’s a great place to emphasize the “networking” aspect of a social network. 

 

In this COVID era, where face-to-face meetups with comic creators at conventions and signings are nil, online interactions have new importance. And Twitter—for all its political vitriol—makes comic book creators and publishers easily accessible. Want to reach out to a creator whose work you admire? They’re just an “@” symbol away. Want to stay up-to-date on the latest projects by your favorite comic artist? Just follow them. As you build up this network, it’s valuable to contribute to the platform just as you take from it. It’s easy to sit back and scroll through the tweets (and retweets) of those you follow, but to build an audience for your own work and projects, you need to put yourself out there. (Just like IRL.)

 

Luckily, Twitter provides analytics to track your “performance” on the platform. To view a dashboard of your tweets’ activity for the past 28 days on your desktop browser, open your Twitter account, and click More, and select Analytics. From this dashboard, you can track all sorts of statistics with a month-to-month comparison.  

 

 

Some lessons learned to help keep your stats growing and in the green month-over-month:

    • Engage in conversation. If you see something of interest on Twitter, such as a new Kickstarter project you’re excited about, it’s easy to just retweet and move on. And while the original tweeter no doubt appreciates the signal boost, that’s not really putting yourself out there outside of the implied endorsement. Rather than just retweet, you can retweet with a comment expressing your opinion or explaining why the project has your support. You can also reply to the tweet to spark a more direct interaction, which opens the door to a more meaningful (and memorable) conversation with others on the platform.
    • Share images. Luckily, comics is a visual medium, which means it’s well-suited for Twitter. As Twitter itself points out, tweets with a visual component get more traffic than just text alone. Blame it on everyone’s attention span, but it’s a fact that can work to your benefit. As your followers (or people checking out your profile from your thread with another comic creator they admire, hint hint) scroll through your feed, having samples of your work or art from the project you’re involved with is great free advertising and a way to build a fanbase.
  • Practice your #hashtag game. A good way to expand the reach of your tweets outside of your direct followers is to include hashtags. For the uninitiated, think of hashtags as a way to index your posts into categories or related topics. Working on a creator-owned Kickstarter project? Throw on an #indiecomics hashtag, maybe another for the genre (#scifi, #capes, etc.), and so on—these all help those already primed to like your work discover it. Also pay attention to the Trending category in Twitter to see what hashtags are currently the most active; if one ties into your work or project in some way, it’s prime time to get it out in front of a new audience.


Any personal lessons learned from Twitter or social media? Share them in the ShoutFyre forum!

Steve Stegelin

Editor, Artist, Letterer, Colorist Steve is the long-running cartoonist at the Charleston, SC alt-weekly Charleston City Paper, where he skewers politicians and criminals (and criminal politicians) alike with editorial cartoons and police blotter illustrations every issue. Steve was best known his indie comic book (and subsequent webcomic)  BOONDOGGLE