Branding is a word heard a lot in the publicity department of any company—what’s your brand? What makes you recognizable? What’s that Instagram aesthetic, that tone in your tweets, that marks you as distinctly you?
Authors are, in a sense, a business unto themselves. In a digital age when personal presence is what sells the book on social media, it is critical for authors to have a consistently branded page or account for users to follow and engage with. But this consistency, this need to post only certain tweets or pictures, might be considered the epitome of the “social media as a false reality” argument. Does having a consistent brand make someone inauthentic online?
The need for authors to put themselves—rather than just their books—online comes from readers’ desire to really connect with the writer behind the stories that they’re reading. Now, fans can not only rate the book on Goodreads, but they can also feel as though they are participating in a community to help build the author up and promote their book. This is especially true in the young adult genre. With the internet making young people feel increasingly disconnected from the world, any kind of interaction and community they can participate in makes a huge difference in how they feel they are impacting the world.
With fans out there ready and willing and even longing to participate with authors on social media, engagement and presence become absolutely necessary. But it can quickly go from a few fun responses to an overwhelming flood of things to post, like, retweet, and reply to. The more an author is engaged with, the more they (and, subsequently, their book) are boosted in SEO (search engine optimization). The more an author engages with their audience, the more engagement they’ll receive. Branding helps control this overwhelming social media presence. Not only does it give the author a clear vision of what to post, but it also saves them time when they jump online and have to figure out what to share and engage with.
Fans love consistency, whether they know it or not. Seeing a consistent Instagram feed draws users in. Seeing consistent opinions and shared book news on a Twitter account attracts followers. A brand essentially helps an author to create and keep this consistency without losing their mind. So is this brand inauthentic?
Not at all. Brands take one dimension of someone’s personality and show that to the world. Just because other dimensions of that personality aren’t on display doesn’t mean that one side isn’t real. In fact, if we were to post everything about ourselves at all hours of the day, the chaos that came out of it would quickly destroy our social media following. Fans follow authors to see the author side of them, and there’s nothing inauthentic about that.