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.
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?