How to Social Network Online

You can go from being an unknown artist to becoming a content creator or an influencer on your favorite social media site. From there, you can advance into selling your own merchandise and even securing endorsements from major brands. But how is this done? Social networking is the first step.

What Is Social Networking?

Social networking involves engaging people on social media sites and social platforms with a goal in mind, whether it’s a social or a business goal. People aiming to grow their careers often social network with the goal of building their brand, or unique identity, online.

According to Thea Von Engelbrechten, a content creator on TikTok, staying true to what you enjoy most is key to building a following on social media. It’s also important to make sure you’re producing high-quality content.

Von Engelbrechten decided to take her old Sylvanian dolls, a line of collectible animal figurines, out of the attic while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, and had the idea to feature them on TikTok. After the first episode of Sylvanian Drama posted in January 2021, Van Englebrechten had over 20,000 TikTok followers. Today she has more than 2 million followers. She also sells merchandise, has collaborated with Burberry and is on Cameo, a site where users request personalized video messages from celebrities and social media influencers.

Most episodes touch on social issues that she cares about. “I hope that it helps people find some humor in the struggles of their lives like I do,” Von Engelbrechten wrote in a Cameo message.

[Read: Why Your College Major Does Not Define Your Career]

How to Build Your Brand Online

There are many social media sites and social platforms, and myriad ways to showcase your talent as an artist, a storyteller or a personality. One important factor to consider is the platform you’ve chosen for social networking. Here’s how to get started.

Learn how the platform works. Each social networking platform has unique features. On Tumblr, for example, because there isn’t a large emphasis on follower count, content is the focus. “A very unique thing is that there is no public follower count on Tumblr — creators are more free to focus on their work as opposed to feeling pressured to perform for a number,” says Cates Holderness, head of editorial at Tumblr. So the time you spend on this platform should be focused on high-quality content, not amassing followers.

Join or grow a community. If you are an artist, photographer or writer on Tumblr, three of the largest communities on the platform, the best way to social network is to tag your posts to make them easily searchable, as well as reblog others’ posts. Reblogging is another powerful tool on Tumblr that helps you build a community with those who enjoy or produce similar content.

Goncharov is a strong example of how powerful reblogging is on Tumblr, Holderness explains. Now a popular meme on the internet, Goncharov began as a parody artwork of a fake Martin Scorsese movie poster. The creator, Beelzeebub, is an artist in the Czech Republic who specializes in drawing art related to gangsters and dark themes, according to their Tumblr page. “It went wildly viral on Tumblr, inspiring a massive meme that has been reported on by places like The New York Times, The Guardian and Gizmodo. This is a completely unique Tumblr experience — creators put their work on Tumblr, and anything has the potential to go viral through other users sharing it,” says Holderness.

Going viral is rare, but artists and other content creators on Tumblr have a unique opportunity to directly engage the community even after they leverage posting, tagging and reblogging strategies. For example, through Creator Spotlight, Tumblr promotes creators who post frequently, including both established and new artists. Creators submit their own work for recognition, and Tumblr selects creators to promote for interviews that showcase their projects. These interviews feature globally across the platform, giving creators a chance to explain and share links to their work.

[READ: How to Become a Filmmaker and Why.]

How to Reach Your Audience

Feed them content. Sue Johnson, chief content officer of Wattpad, a social story sharing platform, advises that to be successful on Wattpad, writers should commit to providing readers with content on a regular basis, including bonus content. Engaging your audience is important; this is the way that you cultivate your fandom.

Sustain the momentum. Wattpad has algorithms that help people find stories they love, but writers should tag their work to help it rank with similar stories, as well as promote their work on social media and share it with friends and family, similar to the way an author would promote a book.

“It also helps if the audience the creator is trying to build is actually on Wattpad. Our biggest writers tend to fall into categories like romance and young adult, since these are genres many readers specifically come to Wattpad for,” says Johnson. The Wattpad Creator Portal has even more resources for writers who want to learn how to reach their audience.

To earn an income on the Wattpad platform, writers have several options.

— Receive publishing, TV or film deals with Wattpad Books or Wattpad Studios.

— Work with Wattpad brand partners on sponsored stories.

— Be selected to participate in Wattpad Paid Stories, where they can make money directly on Wattpad. Wattpad’s Paid Stories are available for purchase by chapter or as complete books using coins, Wattpad’s virtual currency.

In June 2022, Wattpad announced a new Creators Program, which includes $2.6 million in stipends to help writers earn an income. “Those who are invited to join the program are eligible for marketing and editorial support, sponsored brand partnerships and cash stipends,” Johnson explains.

What Do Social Media and Social Platforms Look For?

Social media sites and social platforms each have their own formula for identifying successful content creators and promoting them. Here are some ways to increase your chances of promotion.

Be an active user. When looking for content creators to promote, Tumblr factors in a lot of variables. But a key factor is to be a creator who is regularly active on the platform. “I try to promote a mix of creators, whether that be traditional artists, GIF-makers, textile or glass artists, poets, meme-makers … you name it. We promote established creators, but we’re also very keen to seek out new or aspiring content creators for promotion as well,” says Holderness.

Feature your content on the site. To help promote content creators, Tumblr additionally provides global promotion. Tumblr artists can additionally submit their work through Meet the Artists profiles and the Tumblr Radar. Artist Alley is another place for content creators to make submissions on Tumblr, and it is also a partnership with creators to sell their work straight from their storefronts.

Remember that it could happen to you. Johnson advises that Wattpad’s storytelling technology platform enables writers like indie authors and web novelists to share their stories with a global community of approximately 90 million readers. So getting noticed for great content could happen to anyone. Johnson shares Ariana Godoy as an example of one of Wattpad’s most popular authors, known best for her Wattpad novel-turned-Netflix hit “Through My Window.” According to Johnson, the story accumulated more than 350 million reads on Wattpad before it debuted on Netflix. Originally from Venezuela, Godoy quit her job as a kindergarten teacher and is now writing full time. Godoy has another web novel, “Sigue Mi Voz,” on its way to the movie screen.

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