One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media


One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media


One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media

Good Monday morning, Seekerville! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author, photographer, and graphic designer, Emilie Haney, as she shares about being genuine on social media!

When I talk to authors, one of the things we usually end up discussing is social media. Often this focuses on Instagram. Whether that’s due to my presence on the app as a content creator, or just the fact that I love books and photography and IG combines both of those loves, it’s always a fun topic. When asked my “secret” to growing and maintaining my following, I’ve come to realize my answer hovers around the same things: being consistent, being creative, being genuine. 

I’ve decided to further boil this down to my heart for social media: being genuine. 

Before we go any further I want to make sure you know this is not a ‘get followers quick’ scheme. It’s not a magic bullet, a recipe for growth, or a way to beat the algorithm. It’s my personal approach to social media that I have found to generate real community.

When I started my Instagram account I didn’t think “how can I get a bunch of followers.” I did it because it was fun and I wanted to connect with other book nerds. As my writing became a constant, I realized I needed an “audience” if I wanted to go into publishing someday. Rather than gather a group of people around the idea of “my book,” I drew them with common interest: books, reading, bookish things, and writing. This not only gained me an audience, but it also helped me connect with that audience. My focus then (as it is now) was one thing: to be myself.

Now, I don’t think you need to share everything to be an honest content creator, but I did come up with two aspects that I think require you to be genuine.

Being genuine in your post content: 

When I say you can be honest without sharing everything I’m talking about finding a balance with your audience. I think it’s important to ask yourself what you are comfortable being vulnerable about on your social media platforms. Your honesty in this will help you connect to others, but that doesn’t mean that you share everything in your personal life online.

I like to ask these questions when thinking about what to post:

What is the purpose for wanting to share this personal thing?

Could this help someone else?

Do I have solutions or helpful tips to share?

If I can see why I want to share something personal, I’m more willing to post it. My goal is not to garner sympathy or draw attention to myself; instead it’s to either help with useful tips or open up a window into my life that can let others know they are not alone.

Being genuine in your presentation:

I don’t believe that you have to post unfiltered photos or messy photos to ‘prove’ that you are human, but I do think it can help to share struggles behind a curated facade. This goes along with the point above, but if you want your social feed to be curated and color-coordinated, great! Do it! I don’t think you have to ‘ruin your aesthetic’ just to appear honest. But I do think it helps to have moments of honesty – perhaps in your caption or in your stories. These moments help your readers (or potential readers) to see you as a person and can often make them more willing to support you and buy your books.

Again, the goal is not to get something from your audience, but it is often the result. 

To condense this—my honest approach to social media is built on the fact that my brand is me. It means posting captions that detail my struggles in addition to my triumphs. I don’t try to sugar coat some of the more difficult aspects of publishing, but instead pair those hard truths with encouragement. I also show my face (not often, but sometimes) via my Instagram stories—no matter my ‘state,’ camera ready or lazy day—in an effort to make a personal connection with those who follow me.

For those of you who may struggle with some of this: keep going. I know that it’s hard to put yourself out there. No matter how many followers I have or how much I may ‘influence’ others, it’s not easy to admit I struggle with feeling accepted or that I often experience fear over putting my writing, artwork, or photography out there. But every time I’ve been honest with my followers about my struggles, I’ve had an overwhelming positive response from them. 

The truth is that we’re all human—writer or reader or whatever—and social media connects us in a way that makes it possible to appear very different than we are. Breaking down those barriers with your genuine interests, appearance, struggles, successes, and quirks can be one of the best ways to ‘market yourself’ in a world filled with feeds. 


One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media
Emilie (Hendryx) Haney is a self-employed freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer living in Northern California with her husband. She’s a member of ACFW, writes adult romantic suspense and young adult fiction, and spends more time on Instagram than she probably should. With a degree in music and youth ministry, she has heart for youth and a love of genuine social media connections. She has built a thriving community around her Instagram platform and brand CreateExploreRead, with a focus on bookish merchandise sold on Etsy and Society6.

Connect with Emilie on her website and Instagram

What questions do you have for Emilie about being genuine on social media?
What are some things that have worked for you in building community among your readers?


9 Comments on Seekerville: The Journey Continues: One Thing That Works For Me with guest Emilie Haney: Being Genuine in Social Media

  • Jan Drexler
    on January 10, 2022 | 08:35 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "Good morning, Emilee, and welcome to Seekerville!

    I definitely agree with you that being yourself on social media is the key to handling that tricky medium. People (my readers and friends) want to see ME, not some idea of the me they might like to see. And my family already knows the difference!

    And you addressed that tricky part - where do you draw the line on how much to share? That's a different point for everyone, isn't it?

    Thanks so much for your thoughts!"
  • Debby Giusti
    on January 10, 2022 | 10:58 Debby Giustisaid :
    "Emilie, thanks for being with us today and for your great blog on social media. I'm on FB and pulled back during 2020. I don't like censorship and I see that everywhere, which makes me cautious about using the platform. Not that I posted anything controversial. It's more that I don't like supporting something (FB) that goes against my core values. However, I do enjoy engaging with readers so I haven't gotten off completely. A conundrum, for sure."
  • Jan Drexler
    on January 10, 2022 | 11:40 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "I did the same thing with FB, Debby. I compromised (sigh) by being active on my author page, but rarely showing up on my personal page. I pinned a post to my personal page directing people to my author page. Did it work? I think so."
  • Mindy Obenhaus
    on January 10, 2022 | 11:51 Mindy Obenhaussaid :
    "Wonderful post, Emilie. Since I tend to lack in my social media presence, I'm always looking for advice. And I totally agree about being yourself. And one can be real without being TOO real, if you know what I mean. People will eventually see through a facade anyway. Now if I could just nail down that consistent part. ;)"
  • MeezCarrie
    on January 10, 2022 | 11:59 MeezCarriesaid :
    "that's always a great compromise - because that's WHY you're still on that platform - to engage readers, so you should definitely be referring them to your author page. Good strategy if you're not going to be active on your personal page. But then, try to be active on your author page - or at least consistent (post once a month at minimum to keep readers engaged, in my opinion)"
  • Emilie
    on January 10, 2022 | 12:37 Emiliesaid :
    "Thanks so much Jan! I'm so happy to have been a guest. :) "
  • Emilie
    on January 10, 2022 | 12:41 Emiliesaid :
    "Hey Debby! I can definitely understand where you're coming from but I do think that the principles I mentioned in this post work for all forms of communication with your audience - not just social media. I've run a book blog since 2009 and I have taken the same approach there - being genuine and interacting as best I can. In some ways it's even easier to be more open there through blog posts and sharing images etc. This also works with a newsletter or even an online Zoom meet up :) But I think each author has to decide what works best for them. My audience was primarily young adult readers (who are all on Instagram) so it was easiest to connect with them there. Thanks so much for this perspective! "
  • Glynis
    on January 10, 2022 | 19:01 Glynissaid :
    "Great tips, Emilie. Thanks so much for sharing. "
  • Edwina
    on January 11, 2022 | 10:43 Edwinasaid :
    "Excellent tips! Thank you for sharing!"
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